Wisconsin Preview 2006 - Offense
Wisconsin Badgers
Posted Aug 1, 2006

Wisconsin Badgers Preview 2006 - Wisconsin Offense

What you need to know ... Only three starters return to the nation's 14th best scoring offense, but things aren't all that bad with a typically enormous Badger line led by All-America tackle Joe Thomas and with underrated quarterback John Stocco back for his third season as the starter. After that, things are up in the air with a gigantic group of running backs looking to find a number one runner to replace Brian Calhoun and a lightning fast receiving corps with only three catches last year among the top three prospects. 

Returning Leaders
Passing: John Stocco
197-328, 2,920 yds, 21 TD, 9 INT
Rushing: Jamil Walker
18 carries, 96 yds, 1 TD
Receiving: Marcus Randle El
1 catch, 29 yds, 1 TD

Star of the offense: Senior OT Joe Thomas
Player that has to step up and become a star: Redshirt freshman RB P.J. Hill
Unsung star on the rise: Junior WR Paul Hubbard
Best pro prospect: Thomas
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Thomas, 2) OG Kraig Urbick, 3) QB John Stocco
Strength of the offense: Offensive line, size
Weakness of the offense:
Running back and receiver experience

Badger quarterbacks have always been accessories to the running game, but now it's up to John Stocco to use his 25 straight starts of experience to carry the offense until all the new skill players get their feet wet. He was effective last year when he had Jonathan Orr, Brandon Williams and Owen Daniels to throw to, and now he'll have to be calm, cool, and consistent. Tyler Donovan is a scrambler who needs to grow into a more consistent passer. 2005's top recruit Dustin Sherer is deep in the hunt for the number two job, but he has to keep improving to hold off freshmen Scott Tolzien and Maurice Moore.
The key to the unit: John Stocco has to keep his completion percentage at around 60% and can't make mistakes. Tyler Donovan and Dustin Sherer have to be better than they were this spring.
Quarterback Rating: 7.5

Projected Starter
- John Stocco, Sr. - 197-328, 60%, 2,920 yds, 21 TD, 9 INT, 2 rushing touchdowns
Stocco never got any credit for a strong season. After being along for the ride in 2004, he turned into a confident passer showing good command of the offense and surprising efficiency becoming clutch on third downs. Now he'll have to go from being a steady producer to the star of the attack with all the new pieces around him. He struggled throughout spring ball getting in sync with all his targets, but that should change as time goes on. However, things might be shaky early on as he underwent surgery to correct a lingering knee problem and is questionable for the season opener.

Top Backups
- Tyler Donovan, Jr. - 3-6, 49 yds, 1 TD, 5 carries, 30 yds, 1 TD
A promising backup with a little bit of experience, the junior brings a mobile element to the offense. While starter John Stocco struggled with all the new receivers this spring, Donovan really struggled and never got the passing game going. If he's playing, the offense changes with Donovan running as much as passing.

- Dustin Sherer, RFr.
The possible future of the Badger passing game, the 6-4 Sherer was one of the team's top recruits two years ago after throwing 61 touchdown passes in his high school career. He's a pro style quarterback who has come along quick enough to be a serious challenger for the number two job. Most likely he'll spend this season getting ready for a 2007 preseason battle with Tyler Donovan, Scott Tolzien and Maurice Moore for the starting job.

Running Backs
Good luck finding a bigger running back corps in America with the top three tailbacks coming out of spring ball averaging 233 pounds a man with massive fullbacks up front ready to lead the way. There's not a speed back like Brian Calhoun who can turn the corner on a dime, but P.J. Hill, Jamil Walker and Dywon Rowan will move the pile. The real excitement comes this fall when star freshman Lance Smith comes in; don't be shocked if he takes over the starting job. Chris Pressley appeared to be on the verge of being one of the nation's better fullbacks, but he suffered a broken leg and will be out until next year. Backup Bill Rentmeester was a solid number two man and can be used as a tailback.
The key to the unit: Use everyone available. There are so many big backs to work with, the Badger should be able to wear out defenses.
Running Back Rating: 7.5

Projected Starters
- P.J. Hill, RFr.
Hill was the star of spring ball taking over the number one spot after being buried deep on the depth chart. While he doesn't have anywhere near the speed of recent Badger backs like Brian Calhoun and Anthony Davis, he brings more power at 235 pounds and is quick enough to be effective behind the big line. Even though he won't catch 53 passes like Calhoun did last year, he'll be a solid receiver. The key is his health. He suffered a broken leg last season and had a dinged up neck this spring.

- Fullback
Bill Rentmeester, Soph. - 6 carries, 27 yds, 4.5 ypc
While not as bright a prospect as Chris Pressley, the 254-pound sophomore has the talent to be one of the Big Ten's better running fullbacks and a decent receiver. He's a tailback in a fullback's body.

Top Backups
- Jamil Walker, Jr. - 18 carries, 96 yds, 5.3 ypc, 1 TD, 1 catch, 0 yards
Expected to be the new star back coming into the season, the 221-pound junior didn't show the flash or production P.J. Hill was able to this spring. He has the talent to carry the load if needed, but he'll have to become more productive in fall practices to get back in the starting mix.
- Dywon Rowan, Sr. - 13 carries, 34 yds, 2.6 ypc, 1 TD
The former walk-on is a big 243-pound power back and appears ready to be the team's consistent number two back. He's not a home run hitter by any stretch, so his job will be to carve out three to five hard yards each carry using his surprising quickness along with his power. He has the blocking skills to be used as a fullback if needed.
- Lance Smith, Fr.
Certain to be the speed back in the mix sooner than later, the star freshman is coming off a
1,850-yard and 20 touchdown season at Warren High in Ohio. The 190-pound star-in-waiting won't pack the power of the other Badger backs, but he could quickly become the main man in the offense.
- Fullback
Chris Pressley, Jr. - 3 carries, 5 yds
Expected to be one of the top new stars of the offense, the 268-pound junior became a surprisingly effective runner this spring able to pound out chunks of yards. Unfortunately, he'll be out this year after breaking a bone in his leg in summer practices.

Things aren't as bad as they might appear after losing the top seven pass catchers of last season (if you include the running backs) and projected number one man Marcus Randle El to a knee injury. Paul Hubbard and Jarvis Minton might have only come up with three catches combined last year, but they form one of the fastest trios the Badgers have had in recent years. Hubbard has elite, track-star speed and is just now looking like a top receiver. Incoming freshmen Lance Kendricks and Daven Jones are expected to push for time. The tight ends will be a work in progress with 6-7 former quarterback Sean Lewis a far better receiver than a blocker, Travis Beckum purely a receiver, and former linebacker Andy Crooks a few better blocker than a receiver.
The key to the unit: Everyone has to stay healthy and play up to their speed and potential. Patience will be a must early on..
Receiver Rating: 6.5

Projected Starters

- Jarvis Minton, Jr. - 1 catch, 16 yds
The 6-1, 202-pound junior has the ability to start in three receiver sets and grow into the team's best receiver, but he has to prove he can stay healthy. He injured his foot late last season and had problems with it throughout this spring.

- Paul Hubbard, Jr. - 1 catch, 4 yds

 The UW track star is one of the team's fastest players and has the size at 6-4 to be a matchup nightmare.  He's an elite long and triple jumper and should eventually be a killer around the goal line. He'll start out at the outside X position where he should become the home run hitter who, at times, should be impossible to stay with.

- Tight end Sean Lewis, Soph.
The former quarterback bulked up to 245 pounds and started to look like a natural in early practices. He's 6-7 and has the potential to be an unstoppable receiver because of the matchup problems he creates, but he's not a strong blocker.

Top Backups

- Marcus Randle El, Jr. - 1 catch, 29 yds, 1 TD
With his off-the-field problems behind him, the little brother of NFL star Antwaan Randle El appeared to be ready to be the team's most consistent receiver until a knee injury this summer knocked him out for the year. He has the hands and the quickness to be a top target in the slot, but he'll have to wait for next year. While not as quick as his brother, he has the same sort of punt return skills.

- Luke Swan, Jr.
Able to play inside or out, the 6-0, 200-pound junior is one of the team's most versatile receivers. His progress was set back this spring when he missed several practices hurt. He's a speed receiver with the potential to be a game-breaker when he gets the ball on the move.
- Tight end Andy Crooks, Jr.
While still raw, the former linebacker has been tried out at tight end with great success. He's a big 264-pound blocker who brings the defensive mentality to the offense, and he showed surprising hands and route running ability.
- Tight end Travis Beckum, Soph.
One of the team's most interesting prospects, Beckum is a former defensive lineman with the skills of a wide receiver. His blocking isn't up to par yet, but he has the hands and speed to become the starter this fall. At 6-4 and 217 pounds, he's more like an H-Back than a true tight end.

Offensive Linemen
It's Wisconsin, so take a guess at what the line is like ... big, bigger, and even bigger averaging over 315 pounds per man. The starting five should be rock solid even though only two starters return, but they're good ones in All-America candidates Joe Thomas at left tackle and Kraig Urbik at guard. Improved pass protection will be important after allowing 37 sacks, but the emphasis early will be to get the running game going. The depth is a major concern waiting for several true freshmen to arrive to bring up the talent level.

The key to the unit: Stay healthy. This should be a strong line as long as the starting five has time together to jell; which it wasn't able to do this spring. There will be problems if the reserves have to be dipped into early on.
Offensive Line Rating: 7.5

Projected Starters
- OT Joe Thomas, Sr.
The former defensive end and tight end has grown into a top pro prospect. Used as a part-time defensive lineman in the Capital One Bowl win over Auburn, he tore up his ACL killing and possibility of leaving school a year early. The 6-8, 306-pound senior is expected to be back later this summer and should be an All-American.
- OG Andy Kemp, Soph.
Kemp has all-star potential with his combination of 6-6, 321-pound size and strength. He can play either guard spot and could move around. He started off spring ball at right guard before moving to the left side.
- C Marcus Coleman, Jr.
One of the team's most versatile linemen with the talent to play anywhere, the 6-6, 314-pound junior has some big shoes to fill replacing Donovan Raiola in the middle. He struggled in spring ball and will be one of the most watched players in fall camp.
- OG Kraig Urbik, Soph.
The new star of the line, the 321-pound Urbik started every game at right tackle and now will move to right guard. He's a technically sound blocker who'll quickly grow into a top pro prospect after getting a little experience on the inside.
- OT Eric Vanden Heuvel, Soph.
Back after having problems with a heel injury, the 6-7, 326-pound sophomore will take over at right tackle after backing up Joe Thomas last year on the left side.

Top Backups
- OG/OT Danny Kaye, Jr.
Where he ends up playing is up in the air. He's a huge 6-8, 317-pound blocker who spent spring ball at guard and will start out at left tackle behind Joe Thomas.
- OG Jeff Stehle, RFr.
The former defensive tackle will move over to the offensive side to bring a little depth. He's still extremely raw playing behind Andy Kemp on the left side.
- OG/OT Andre Weininger, Jr.
After practicing at guard for the bowl game, the 6-6, 314-pound junior will also see time at tackle. He'll start out behind Kraig Urbik at right guard.

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