Before we dive into the issues and things we'd like to see on Saturday, I had the chance to do some talking with the enemy for Saturday as I was a guest on the Miner Rush podcast "The Rush" so, make sure to give it a listen for info on our opponents and also for what I had to say about Wisconsin there.
It's something new once again for the Camp Randall crowd as we'll see our first 11am Central kick off on Saturday morning, so I'm sure we won't see the Student Section fill up till about the start of the 2nd quarter, 'cause you know drinking your face off for 24 hours is more important than watching the team you've paid good money for and all. But, I digress.
Once again we find Wisconsin having a ton of questions to answer and of course we all want to know the actual answer to the burning question – who will be our starting QB? (We've said Stave all along since Saturday and reports say we were right, but nothing from the man that matters – Brett Bielema)
Anyway, it's time to let you in on what we'll be looking for from the Badgers on Saturday!
1) The Deep Ball: All indications are it'll be Joel Stave behind center and from seeing him in person during two spring games he's got a hell of an arm. We'll be watching to see if the return of Abbrederis, Kenzel Doe's increasing role, and Stave's are all adds up to finally opening up the deep passing game for Wisconsin. It's got to happen at some point, no?
2) Using Play Action: One of the most frustrating parts of the offensive game plan for most fans has been a complete lack of play action passing from this team. I know you actually have to have a running game, but you also have to establish a passing threat to open up that running game. Teams are staking 8 or 9 guys in the box on some occasions, so why not play off of their keying on the running game and actually use some play action passing for a change? Just a thought.
3) More Pressure from the Edges: David Gilbert and Brendan Kelly have been pretty good against the run on the edge and that's all well and good, but they still aren't getting much in the way of pressure against the quarterback. Most of the pressure is coming from the blitz packages Wisconsin is using. We're looking to see if Gilbert, who's been rounding into better form week by week, can live up to his pass rushing potential against the Miners.
4) Kenzel Doe's Role: The coaching staff clearly has faith in him and last week's 82 yard punt return was huge, but with Jared Abbrederis coming back you have to wonder if his role changes. Personally, I'll be watching to see if he can continue to become an increasingly important part of the offensive game plan. He needs to show he can make the big catch as he's had a few costly drops in the first three weeks, but his potential as a game breaker makes him someone to watch against UTEP.
5) Kyle French: Bret Bielema emphasized not making stupid mistakes and while French has been pretty solid on field goals (3 for 4), he has had two PAT's blocked – both were low kicks by French, and he's had some issues with his kickoffs going out of bounds. The blocked PAT last week nearly cost Wisconsin their 2nd straight defeat and Jack Russell was charging hard behind French in camp. Bielema has been quick with the hook for people making the same mistake over and over, so watching French's performance will be a key as well.