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    Tuesday, December 16, 2008

    Three And Out: Wisconsin Primer

    I would like to thank Scott Tappa of BadgerCentric for answering my questions regarding Wisconsin football for "Three And Out". Scott is a former sports editor at newspapers in Fremont,Ohio, and Oshkosh, Wis., and was author of the What's on Tapp sports column for The Daily Cardinal in 1996-97. Here is Scott's take on the Badgers.

    1. Most FSU fans are not that familiar with the 2008 Wisconsin team. Can you give us a brief description of the offensive and defensive schemes that the Badgers employ.

    Wisconsin has historically been a run-first team, but offensive coordinator Paul Chryst has balanced that out. This year that didn't work out so well because of deficiencies at quarterback. Inconsistent and still-learning Dustin Sherer is our guy there now, he can make some plays with his feet but also make some really boneheaded plays.

    Our running game is powered by a huge offensive line. P.J. Hill is a three-time 1,000-yard rusher but is injury-prone. John Clay is our promising freshman who many people want to see get more carries. Florida native Zach Brown is a sometimes third down back who had 250 yards in a game last season.

    Tight end Garrett Graham is our top receiving threat, he was All-Big Ten (All-American Travis Beckum is out for the season with a broken leg). Wide receivers Nick Toon (Al's son), David Gilreath, and Isaac Anderson are young but improving. Philip Welch is our kicker, he's been steady this year on field goals but his kickoffs are on the short side.

    Our defense, long shredded by the Spread, is now better suited to defend it, with lighter defensive linemen and linebackers. Our D-Line features three seniors, two of them four-year starters, Matt Shaughnessy and Jason Chapman. No superstars, probably slightly above-average as a unit. Not much depth.

    Our linebackers are pretty quick, led by Jonathan Casillas, who makes plays sideline to sideline. Fellow outside linebacker DeAndre Levy is a strong leader and occasionally puts his hand down and rushes the passer. Middle linebacker Jae McFadden, another Florida native, has done pretty well in his first year at the position.

    Cornerback Allen Langford was our defensive MVP this year. What he lacks in physically ability and health (he blew out a knee last year) he makes up for with technique, study, and heart. The other two corners, Niles Brinkley and Mario Goins, are new and get tested a lot. The safeties are a weak spot, although little Jay Valai is a big hitter.

    2. What would you say are the major strengths and weaknesses of the team?

    Strengths: Running game when we commit to it. Using the tight end. Defending the Spread.

    : Quarterback consistency. Pass defense. Run defense against big, power running games. Kick coverage.

    3. What would you say are three keys in order for the Badgers to defeat FSU ?

    1.We need to run the ball effectively, because I'm pretty sure we won't be able to pass on you guys.

    2.Getting off the field on third down on defense. We haven't made as many of these key stops as great teams do.

    3.Kicking/return game. Gilreath had a nice year returning kicks as a freshman last year, but he hasn't had much blocking this year. As said, our kickoffs have been sort of short and punts sort of flat, tough on the coverage teams.

    Overall, our team is slightly above-average, with no really exciting wins this season. Our program's identity since its rejuvenation in the early-90s has been power running, fundamentally sound defense, and great special teams.

    This team is capable of these things, but hasn't shown them with much consistency this year. It's going to take a big effort for the Badgers to pull this one out, and while it's possible, I wouldn't say it's probable.


    Eric said...

    Thanks for the informative post. Nice to have a Badger perspective on the team dynamics. Wish they didn't have talent at the tight end position...

    Scott Tappa said...

    Tight end was by far our deepest spot going into the season, but Beckum was hurt for the first several games and never really got untracked. Lance Kendricks, our #3 TE, was a highly-rated WR recruit a couple years ago and was starting to come on before he broke his leg against Michigan State.

    Graham is good too. At times our QBs lock on to him early, but he's good at finding the soft spots in coverage.

    How has FSU struggled in defending tight ends?

    tallynolefan said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    tallynolefan said...

    That is funny Scott. Actually it's not funny. We have failed to cover the tight end in many games. They are usually wide open so if they can catch the ball they can wreak havoc. Florida's tight end scored two easy TDs on us. I would have to go back and look but it has been a common theme. They have been left wide open in many games.