2007 Wisconsin Preview - Offense

Posted May 13, 2007

Preview 2007 Wisconsin Badger Offense Preview

Wisconsin Badgers

Preview 2007 - Offense

- 2007 Wisconsin Preview | 2007 UW Defense Preview
2007 UW Depth Chart | 2006 CFN Wisconsin Preview 

What you need to know:
The offense wasn't always pretty, but it produced. Now it welcomes back nine starters, led by power runner P.J. Hill working behind a deep and talented offensive line. The receiving corps is loaded with deep threats with Paul Hubbard, Luke Swan, and top pass-catching tight end Travis Beckum returning. It's all there to have a huge season as long as the quarterback situation is settled. Tyler Donovan and Allan Evridge are each good enough to start, but one has to break free and take the job by the horns. While this is one of the deepest Badger offenses in a long time, most of the top reserves are untested. That isn't going to be an issue for the line or the backfield, but it could be a problem if injuries hit the receiving corps.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Tyler Donovan
37-58, 564 yds, 4 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: P.J. Hill
311 carries, 1,569 yds, 15 TD
Receiving: Travis Beckum
31 catches, 178 yds

Star of the offense: Sophomore RB P.J. Hill
Player that has to step up and become a star: Senior QB Tyler Donovan or junior QB Allan Evridge
Unsung star on the rise: Redshirt freshman OT Gabe Carimi
Best pro prospect: Junior TE Travis Beckum
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Hill, 2) Beckum, 3) OG Kraig Urbik
Strength of the offense: Experience, offensive line
Weakness of the offense:
Backup receiver, pass protection


Projected Starter: While the quarterback battle is still on, the starting job is likely to go to senior Tyler Donovan on experience in the offense alone, but he'll have to become sharper on his reads and has to prove he can be a polished enough passer to make keep defenses off the running game. He's only 6-1 and 187 pounds, but he's a gamer with great mobility and a better arm than he gets credit for. Thrown into a pressure situation late last year against Iowa, he came through completing 17 of 254 passes for 228 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 61 yards.

Projected Top Reserve: The Badgers got a huge boost to the quarterback situation when junior Allan Evridge decided to transfer from Kansas State. With D-I experience, mobility, smarts, and good passing skills, he has it all except for playing time for the Badgers. He's a bigger, not as mobile version of Donovan with the potential to take over the starting job this fall if he becomes more consistent.

Watch Out For ... the quarterback situation to be an ongoing debate throughout the season. Donovan and Evridge are so dead even that there's sure to be plenty of second guessing no matter who gets the job to start the year. However ...
Strength: They can both play. There's not necessarily a wrong choice here considering how good both of them are. Neither is All-Big Ten material, but the Badgers can win with either one.
Could this be a distraction throughout the year? What will happen when the starter has a mediocre game of a slow start? Will he be looking over his shoulder? The coaching staff has to squash the issue right off the bat this fall.
Outlook: Wisconsin missed out on getting Brent Schaeffer from Tennessee, who chose to transfer to Ole Miss last year, but that turned out to be a positive considering Evridge is better. Donovan will likely get the day one call because of what he did late last year, but Evridge will be certain to see plenty of time. Whichever one does the best job of limiting mistakes and making the quick reads will get the job.
Rating: 7.5

Running Backs

Projected Starters: The only question mark with sophomore P.J. Hill will be whether or not he can stay healthy. He missed all of 2005 with a broken leg, struggled through neck injury last year, and missed all of spring ball getting his shoulder right. While he's not gong to bust off many huge runs, he'll use his 222 pounds to power over and through everyone. He was a load last year rushing for 1,569 yards and 15 touchdowns, and he even was a decent receiver finishing fifth on the team with 18 catches for 197 yards and a touchdown, but he wasn't the same over the second half of the season after getting dinged up, and he was effectively shut down by Michigan and Arkansas.

Looking to pave the way will be 250-pound junior Bill Rentmeester, who didn't get any carries but did a good job of blocking. He's a tough player who might have to carve out a role for himself with Chris Pressley healthy again after missing all of last year.

Projected Top Reserves: Sophomore Lance Smith was a superstar recruit last year and was expected to be a speed back in the mold of Brian Calhoun and Anthony Davis, but he was average when he got his chance to shine even though he finished second on the team with 345 yards and five scores. Now he won't be in the mix for a while, if at all, after being suspended indefinitely from the team stemming from charges of robbery and battery involving his girlfriend..

On the way to potentially take over the number two spot is one of this year's top recruits, John Clay. While he's like Hill at 6-2 and 220 pounds, he's faster. The star high school sprinter might see time right away if Hill goes down.

5-11, 185-pound Zach Brown is also expected to be in the hunt for time as a true freshman. With excellent speed, he could be the back the coaching staff is hoping Smith can become.

Looking for the starting fullback job will be 6-1, 271-pound junior Chris Pressley, who was all set to be the starter last year before breaking his leg in fall practices. He's a sledgehammer of a blocker and can even get a few short-yardage carries from time to time.

Watch Out For ... the light to go on for Smith. He has the talent and the measurables, but he needs to become tougher, both mentally and physically. If he rises to the challenge, he'll be one of the Big Ten's breakout stars.
Strength: A combination of talents. The potential is there for something special to come out of the Badger backfield. Hill is the Heisman candidate power back, while Smith could be the speed rusher if he gets back on the team. If not, Clay and and Brown could possibly turn into the thunder and lightning combo.
A sure-thing second back behind Hill. If Smith doesn't live up to the billing, that means it'll be up to a pair of true freshmen to carry the workload. That's not a positive, even if the backs are as talented as Clay and Brown.
Outlook: It's Wisconsin, so there will always be production from the tailbacks, but there are question marks. P.J. Hill won't have to be everything for the running game, but the longer he can stay effective with 20+ carries a game, the better. In a perfect world, Hill will carry the ground game with star recruits John Clay and/or Zach Brown able to redshirt.
Rating: 9.5


Projected Starters: The Badgers have three tremendous targets to count on led by All-Big Ten tight end Travis Beckum. A former defensive end, the 6-4, 221-pound junior made a quick transition to the offense as he led the team with 61 catches for 903 yards and five touchdowns. A matchup nightmare, he's fast, strong and athletic, but he's been more of a large wide receiver than an actual tight end. Now he's looking to become more of a blocker, but if he's making catches like he did last year, no one will notice what he's doing for the running game. 

Seniors Luke Swan and Paul Hubbard are proven receivers who could do even more now that they have a year of starting experience. The 6-4, 215-pound Hubbard was second on the team with 38 catches for 627 yards and five touchdowns, but he wasn't used as much as he should've been. He has track star speed and NFL athleticism, and now he has to be an even more dangerous home-run hitter. Swan made 35 catches for 595 yards and five touchdowns averaging a team-leading 17 yards per catch. While he's a speed receiver, he can play inside or out.

Projected Top Reserves: A good corps will suddenly become tremendous is junior Marcus Randle El returns from a torn ACL suffered last year. While he doesn't have his brother Antwaan's quickness, he can move and has the hands of a number one target. First he has to prove he's 100% again this fall.

Sophomore Isaac Anderson has the speed and the talent to become a dangerous to be a major playmaker behind Hubbard, but he can't shake a variety of injury problems. If healthy, he has the potential to become an elite deep threat.

Until Randle El is ready, redshirt freshman Maurice Moore will play a key role behind Swan. A great practice player, he has to show he can play when the lights go on.

Behind Beckum will be senior Andy Crooks, a true all-around tight end finishing fourth on the team with 19 catches for 206 yards and four touchdowns. He has to get over a shoulder problem and keep his weight to under 270 pounds, if possible.

Watch Out For ... Hubbard and Swan to quietly be among the Big Ten's most dangerous receiving tandems. While it's not the best twosome in the Big Ten, it could end up combining to lead the league in yards per catch.
Strength: Deep plays. The Badgers averaged 14.1 yards per catch. This isn't exactly a corps of possession receivers. They'll wear out secondaries on deep balls.
Backup receivers. Randle El is a potential number one receiver if he's healthy, but he's still a question mark and he hasn't done it yet in game action. Moore is an average number three, and Anderson can't be counted on to last the season.
Outlook: Beckum, Hubbard and Swan are dangerous and will shine with all the attention on the running game, but it would be nice if backups could quickly emerge, even if it's from Nick Toon (son of former UW star, Al) and the incoming freshmen. While this might not be a receiving corps that can carry an offense, it's fantastic for what the Badger offense does.
Rating: 7

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters: The line will be a rock with one glaring question mark: left tackle. Even a factory for offensive linemen like Wisconsin has a hard time replacing a top NFL draft pick like Joe Thomas, but sophomore Jake Bscherer will give it a shot after seeing a little bit of time in every game last year. He's a typical massive Badger tackle at 6-7 and 297 pounds, and he has the prep résumé to suggest he might be the type of talent who can eventually be an All-Big Ten star, but he's not Thomas. He doesn't have to be, but he does have to be consistent in pass protection. Next to him on the left side will be junior Andy Kemp, a 6-6, 322-pound road grader who'll pick up the slack until the new tackle gets his feet wet.

6-6, 302-pound senior Marcus Coleman is about to blossom into an all-star. Quick enough to play tackle, strong enough to play guard, he's a big, tough anchor in the middle. He earned a little bit of post-season recognition, and now he should take his game to another level as the steady, tough quarterback of the line.

Back at right guard is junior Kraig Urbik, a 6-6, 330-pound former tackle who had a terrific year at guard. He's been a major contributor from day one starting 26 straight games, and now he should be an all-star on his run blocking alone.

At tackle, junior Eric Vanden Heuvel grew into the starting role earning honorable mention All-Big Ten honors last year. While he's not Joe Thomas, he's an imposing 6-7, 323-pound mauler who needs to get better in pass protection.

Projected Top Reserves: While the Badgers are loaded with depth, the overall pecking order among the reserves could quickly change once star recruit
Josh Oglesby comes in. Considered by many to be the best offensive lineman prospect in America, or at least in the top five, he's 6-7, 320 pounds and almost certain to be the next Badger All-America blocker.

For now, all eyes will be on 6-8, 292-pound Gabe Carimi as he pushes Basherer at left tackle. Carimi moves better and should be a better pass protector. If doesn't win the job, he'll be a vital reserve.

There's incredible talent along the rest of the line, but other top prospects are untested redshirt freshmen. 6-4, 310-pound John Moffitt will back up Kemp at left guard,  6-4, 300-pound Bill Nagy will be a backup at right guard, and 6-4, 295-pound Brad Thorson will be behind Coleman at center. They can all play.

Watch Out For ... the line to be better, even without Thomas. Of course the Badgers will miss the Cleveland Brown on the left side, but the overall experience, and the strong reserves, will mean an even better year up front. Overall, this was a young line last year that'll jell going into this season.
Strength: Size and depth. Yeah, all the top reserves haven't seen any action, but they're all good. As always, the Badgers are massive on the front wall averaging close to 320 pounds per man.
Pass protection. Thomas gave up one sack all year, in the opener against Bowling Green, but the line gave up 30 after giving up 37 in 2005. The rest of the line struggled against quick, talented lines, and while the sacks-allowed total will slow down with a more mobile quarterback than John Stocco, it's still a concern.
Outlook: The left tackle situation will be more than fine with the combination of Bscherer and Carimi getting the job done. Overrated throughout last year, the line will live up to its billing going into this year. Loaded with all-star candidates, and good backups ready to breakthrough, this is the strongest Badger line in several years.


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2007 Wisconsin Preview
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  May 13, 2007
2007 Wisconsin Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  May 13, 2007
2007 Wisconsin Preview - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  May 13, 2007

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