It’s January 2018. The Wisconsin Badgers just won the Orange Bowl against the Miami Hurricanes. Everyone in college sports believes this Badger team can go into 2018, beat Ohio State, and win the Big Ten conference for the first time since 2012. After only one loss in 2017, every one of Wisconsin’s offensive linemen returned, which included three All-Americans and a freshman All-American, Jonathan Taylor who is considered a top running back nationwide, a third-year quarterback in Alex Hornibrook, and All-American linebacker T.J. Edwards who returned for his senior year despite having a chance to go into the NFL.
But, The Badgers ended up losing SIX starters on the defensive side of the ball. Three defensive ends and three defensive backs. And that kind of loss turned out to be too much to overcome, with the Badgers highest defensive ranking beinng 32nd in passing defense. Back in the Summer, Nobody saw this team losing five games, said Zach Rassmann, Madison resident and Badgers fan. Everyone thought this team was going places based on last season. During the 2017 season, Wisconsin beat BYU, Minnesota, Northwestern, and Michigan 129-42. But in 2018, they played those exact teams again and fell 133-62. Their biggest defensive struggle turned out to be stopping the run. In losing efforts, Wisconsin gave up 217.5 yards and 2.5 rushing touchdowns per game. The worst of which was when they let Michigan run for 327 yards in one game. Wisconsin obviously wanted to make the run game the focus of the offense. Badger quarterbacks threw just 293 passes to their 513 rushes and Jonathan Taylor gained more yards on the ground than Badger quarterbacks threw in the air. Despite all the returning players, the truth is that Wisconsin just isn’t the same team from 2017.
They struggled on defense, Hornibrook isn’t 100% healthy and he isn’t making good football choices, along with the injuries on both sides of the ball, and losing a number of key players on the defensive side of the ball, and the Badgers couldn’t rely on the run game as much as they wanted to. In the coming offseason, Coach Paul Chryst needs to address the losses on defense and needs to make a decision on Alex Hornibrook and whether he is your starter in his last year of school. All these decisions and more to get this Badger football team back on it’s winning track. For WebHawk News, I’m Kyle Olson in Whitewater.