There's just something special about Camp Randall at night, it's a near fortress against Big Ten opponents, let alone non-conference teams. But, this is a different year and a different team, so this game has a lot of things we'll be watching for. I mean, it's not as if the Badgers made any coaching staff changes or have any injuries to deal with right?
Oh wait, we do? Well, here are a few of the many things we'll be watching for from the press box of Camp Randall on Saturday night.
1) New Starter – Sophomore Michael Trotter will get his first career start at strong safety thanks to Shelton Johnson's broken arm and while he's got playing experience, your first start is always special. Utah State isn't exactly a slouch offensively, passing for 260 yards a game (51st nationally) and he'll also need to be stout against the run game.
We also will be watching to see his communication level with Dez Southward, it's something that was lacking last weekend in the touchdown pass from Oregon State and with the relative inexperience of this group it's going to be key.
2) Jared Abbrederis' Role – Right now he is listed as the starter at both wide receiver and as a punt returner, but as of right now he is iffy at best to be ready for Saturday night. Do I fully expect him to play? Yes, but do I expect him to be back on punt returns and playing wide receiver? That's a bit much. I'd much rather have him in at wide receiver and leave the punt returning duties to Kenzel Doe or James White at the moment.
3) Offensive Line Play – Just how dismal has the offensive line been? The Badgers rank 102nd in scoring offense, 105th in total offense (297yds per game), and a horrible 103rd in rushing offense (101.5 yds per game). Those numbers are decidedly un-Badger like and with the firing of Mike Markuson and the promotion of Bart Miller this team needs to show they have some punch up front for a change this season.
4) 3rd down play – For as bad as the total numbers have been, Wisconsin's ability to sustain drives by converting 3rd down's has been even worse. On the season the Badgers are just 5-of-25 on 3rd down conversions. That's simply pathetic if you ask me and it's a combination of bad offensive line play and ineffective quarterback play at the critical times in the game.
It's got to get better and watching to see it improving in this game can be a sign that at least this offense is beginning to figure out just what makes it successful or in a worst case scenario what makes it what it's been over the past two weeks.
5) Taylor's move up the charts – Mike Taylor has a chance to make a severe move up the tackle charts at Wisconsin. With 8 tackles or more Mike Taylor will move into the top 20 of the career tackles list for the Badgers and with the way the Aggies run their offense he should have plenty of chances to get those tackles.