Three keys for Wisconsin in 2015
A new coach is in Madison but it’s business as usual for the Badgers. Paul Chryst came back to Wisconsin after Gary Andersen unexpectedly bolted for Oregon State. Chryst led the Badger offense to a pair of Rose Bowls, which helped land him the Pittsburgh job. Now as the head man in Wisconsin, here’s what it’ll take for him to lead the program back to Pasadena.
Keep on running
Corey Clement will take over Heisman runner-up Melvin Gordon after he led the Badgers to a West Division title in 2014. The list of successful backs to plow their way through Madison is long, and Clement figures to be the next in line. He nearly racked up 1,000 yards as a backup last year and will likely get twice the carries as the feature back. He’s no stranger to waiting in the wings, either. Clement backed up Rutgers’ Paul James at Glassboro High School in New Jersey before he exploded as an upperclassman. For Clement to reach his “2,000 yards minimum,” he’ll rely on three new starters on the offensive line. Tyler Marz and Dan Voltz will take the reins on a unit that’s been as steady as can be in college football. More of the same would get the Badgers sprinting toward another Big Ten Championship berth.
Flip the script
The Badger defense was one of the Big Ten’s most effective while the running game was second to none last year. Surprising is the fact that the Badgers had the second worst turnover margin in the conference. Wisconsin does return a talented veteran secondary with the likes of Michael Caputo, Tanner McEvoy, Darius Hillary and Sojourn Shelton. The title of Big Ten’s best defensive backfield could easily end up belonging to the Badgers by season’s end. A confident group might be willing to take a few more chances in 2015.
Develop serviceable passing game
To Joel Stave’s credit, he’s 21-7 entering his fourth year as the Wisconsin starter. Would he have that many wins without Montee Ball and Melvin Gordon? Probably not, but the senior hasn’t derailed the run-heavy offense. Last year was an up-and-down season for Stave after reclaiming the starting job at the start of Big Ten play. He’s battled accuracy issues throughout his career, but under Chryst’s tutelage, Stave will get all the attention he needs. Clement still figures to provide the majority of the punch behind the Badger offense. Still, there’s no guarantee Clement will be able to bail Stave out of three-interception games like he had in the Outback Bowl. For Wisconsin to maintain its place atop the West, Stave needs to be the steady senior running the show.