Opponent Preview: BYU

Opponent Preview: BYU

Football

Opponent Preview: BYU

Another “W” for Wisconsin brings the Badgers to 2-0 on the young season. It was a slow start early on this past Saturday, with a back-and-forth first half. As mentioned last week, this was going to be a defensive battle against two great offenses. Though struggling early on, Wisconsin was able to wake up and get the hard-earned 45-14 win over New Mexico.

Wisconsin’s next opponent is BYU, a Cougars team that is 1-1 after upsetting Arizona in week one, 28-23, and losing to Cal last weekend, 21-18. Struggling to put points on the board at the beginning of the game hurt the Cougars from making a successful comeback run against the Golden Bears.

Offensively, the Cougars were struggling to anything going because of the inability to establish their run game. With the pressure put on senior quarterback Tanner Mangum to give the team momentum, Mangum threw for nearly 200 yards but two interceptions to only one touchdown. Senior running back Squally Canada rushed for 49 yards on 16 carries, while the defense couldn’t lay a finger on the quarterback and ended up with only three tackles for loss.

Don’t let last year’s 40-6 Wisconsin victory over BYU in Provo, Utah, trick you. The Cougars are a strong and disciplined team who always presents themselves as a threat. This BYU team has players who have got the experience they need to be successful on the field.

The challenges facing the Badgers this game are:

  • Containing Tanner Mangum
  • Winning third down
  • Staying consistent on both sides of the ball.

Mangum is a veteran playmaker. He has an arm but can get the yards needed with his feet.  The front seven need to keep him in the pocket and have him under pressure, which means the defensive line needs to be sound on their pass rush lanes and keep containment on the quarterback. In addition, the middle linebackers need to keep eyes on him, making sure there is not a seam he can escape through.

BYU’s offense and defense are big up front. Wisconsin’s fronts need to move bodies and make plays. Last year against BYU, both the offensive and defensive line struggled early with the competition in front of them. It’s important to know because every yard and inch earned will decide the momentum of the game. I don’t think it will be an easy one-to-six play drive, but more 10-to-12 play drives, so momentum generated on third downs will be important. BYU will stick around and work its tails off to the end.

Consistency is a key characteristic for any player, something coaches look for with who is going to give them 110 percent every play and do their job right. The Badgers need to be consistent in order to keep the Cougars at bay. If mistakes are made on the field, BYU is good enough to capitalize and tip the momentum scale in their favor.  Last year in Utah, there were a couple chances for BYU to stay close in the game, but the Badgers were able to recover from their mistakes and make the plays needed in order to get the win.

Last Saturday’s performance wasn’t spectacular for quarterback Alex Hornibrook, who completed 8 of 11 passes for 148 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Hornibrook has had his highs and lows in previous games but always strives to keep moving forward and not allow a bad moment to get to him mentally, using it to learn from. Five of those eight completions were to junior wide receiver AJ Taylor, who had a career game with 134 receiving yards and adding a touchdown to his stat sheet.  He wasn’t the only Taylor who was balling out.

Though the passing game wasn’t always there, the run game was on point. Sophomore running back Jonathon Taylor had a Heisman performance, rushing for 253 yards off of 33 carries, including three touchdowns. Jonathon Taylor is becoming more of a force at Wisconsin, earning those extra yards up front for the first down and making a big play happen when momentum is needed for the offense to get going.

Football is not a one-man sport, though, taking 11 men on both sides of the ball to make a play happen. Never forget about the big boys up front blocking. The veteran offensive line is a challenge for all defenses. Smart, Tough, Dependable are the three characteristics a Wisconsin football player should have. I believe after this game, the offensive line for the Badgers showcased these traits and gave a helping hand to their young running back.

Allowing the opponent to score a touchdown first at Camp Randall is inexcusable for the Wisconsin defense. The goals for the defense are to limit the run game to under 100 yards, allow three or fewer points throughout the entire game and win on third down. The defensive coaching staff holds high expectations for their players when they are on the field. Everyone needs to do their 1/11th in order for a play to go according to plan.

Defensive Line coach Inoke Breckterfield always expresses to his defensive line to play with phenomenal effort and have fun. As long as you’re doing those two things, you will be successful on the field.  The defense got to see sophomore Isaiahh Loudermilk back in action, recording a few tackles with the limited game time. Senior Olive Sagapolu and freshmen Matt Henningsen creating some havoc in the trenches, both earning them some tackles and TFLs.

The Badgers’ young defensive secondary is raising people’s eyebrows with their performance.  Freshmen safety Scott Nelson and sophomore cornerback Madison Cone both got themselves a pick against the Lobos and senior safety D’Cota Dixon led the charge on the field, registering a team-high nine tackles and making plays where they were needed.

Contain Mangum, win third down and consistency. Those are the challenges facing Wisconsin this weekend. Every week is a new week, with what happened the previous week should not affect the present week.  Who cares if BYU lost last week?  Who cares if the Badgers won?  Nobody Cares, Work Harder.

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