Wisconsin Opponent Preview - Purdue

Wisconsin Opponent Preview - Purdue

Football

Wisconsin Opponent Preview - Purdue

What seemed like a promising start for Wisconsin turned into a poor performance on both sides. After starting with a great defensive stop against the ferocious Nittany Lions’ offense, running back Jonathan Taylor took Wisconsin’s third play from scrimmage 71 yards for a touchdown. As the game went on, the struggles continued for the Badgers and Penn State ended up winning 22-10. Wisconsin will have to shake off this tough loss in order to prepare for the steaming Purdue Boilermakers.

Wisconsin struggled to get it going in the air but had a presence in the run game. Taylor rushed for 185 yards off of 20 carries, bringing in Wisconsin’s only touchdown of the game. As a team, Wisconsin finished with 209 yards rushing compared to Penn State’s 183 rushing yards. While Purdue is 12th in the Big Ten, giving up 426.6 yards per game (only Nebraska and Illinois are worse), the Boilermakers are sixth against the run at 144.8 yards allowed per game.

The Boilers’ ability to stuff the run up front will test UW’s ability to throw the football. Sophomore quarterback Jack Coan got his second start at Penn State and performed poorly, going 9-for-20 for 60 yards, no touchdowns, two interceptions and two fumbles. Wisconsin’s offense had multiple chances this game to score but was unable to take advantage of the opportunities because of the inability to slow Penn State’s pressure from the front seven.

Purdue struggles to pressure teams like Penn State does but has some capable athletes. Sophomore linebacker Markus Bailey had 89 tackles last season (10 against UW) and enters this weekend fifth in the conference in tackles (86) and has added five sacks. The Boilers also have a terrific safety combination in Navon Mosley (74 tackles) and Jacob Thieneman (71 tackles, five sacks) that have a top 20 in the conference in average tackles. Those three players combined for 32 tackles in Purdue’s 49-20 win over No.2 Ohio State, including 15 from Bailey.

Purdue’s defense has exponentially gotten better over the years, and that win proved it, but the Boilermakers are coming off a humbling 41-10 loss at Minnesota. Purdue forced only one turnover, allowed 265 rushing yards and showed an inconsistent discipline that was prevalent early on in its season.

The Boilermakers’ offense also couldn’t get anything going for themselves throughout the game, rushing for only 88 yards as a team and not finding the end zone until the final minutes when senior quarterback David Blough found his mark in freshmen wide receiver Rondale Moore. Moore finished with eight receptions with 76 yards and has become one of the young stars of the conference. Ranked first in catches per game and second in yards per game, Moore has 82 catches for 909 yards and eight touchdowns.

Thanks in large part to Moore, Blough is second in the Big Ten in passing yards per game (282.5 ypg) and third in pass efficiency (148.5). Though a more pass-oriented team, Purdue typically has a decent run game because teams are preparing for the pass play. While senior running back DJ Knox couldn’t find daylight on the field against the Gophers, finishing the game with 10 carries and rushed for 34 yards, Knox had 100-yard rushing games against Illinois and Ohio State, the latter in which he scored three touchdowns.

Defensively, Wisconsin needs more consistency from the young players. When adversity comes knocking at the door, they need to be ready to answer the door with discipline and phenomenal effort.  If the offense isn’t producing, then set some fireworks off on the defensive side of the ball by attacking the ball, getting a strip sack, doing anything to help rally the offense and build the fires in their bellies.  Build their confidence. This goes for the defense as a whole, delivery a consistent production to help the offense build the positive energy to go down the field and score.

Most importantly, Wisconsin needs to figure out its offensive weapons for this game, as the weight cannot be placed on the shoulders of Taylor to score on each drive. Other players must step up and take on the leadership role. There needs to be a sense of urgency from the quarterback, as there isn’t room for mistakes the rest of the season.

More BadgersInsider
Home