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September 10, 2011
Five things: Oregon State
MADISON - As far as the Wisconsin Badgers are concerned, week one provided a glimpse into not only what the team is capable of both offensively and defensively, but also where it still needs some work.
With week two festivities set to begin, BadgerBlitz.com presents five things to watch and a prediction for UW's tilt with Oregon State.
1.) Can Russell Wilson do it again?.
Wilson, making his long awaited debut in Madison, was about as close to incredible as a player can get without stepping inside a phone booth as one person before coming out a superhero. His 10-of-13, 255-yard passing day and two-carry, 62-yard rushing performance will go down in Badger lore for many years to come. Now, with week two upon him, can he do it again?
There's an age-old phrase that that says the biggest gains are made as a team and as an individual between week one and two. If that's the case, how does Wilson do any better when he was already nearly perfect? That's going to be the joy of watching him as the season progresses.
2.) The Manasseh Garner effect:
The big, athletic and impressive wide receiver has been given the green light and will make his Badger debut Saturday afternoon against Oregon State. Playing at a position that has more questions than it does answers, Garner will have an opportunity to immediately step in and solidify the No. 3 wide out spot nobody else at the position has been able to secure.
He won't play 60 snaps today, but it's entirely possible that he'll see in the range of 30-40. If he lines up in the slot or split wide, it will be in interesting to see if he provides a mismatch for whatever nickel back lines up on the other side of him?
3.) Louis Nzegwu:
Nzegwu has been saying the right things dating back to spring camp. He wants to step up, become a leader of the defense, find a way to replace what J.J. Watt left behind and solidify himself as a premier player in the Big Ten. Starting the season with a two-sack performance against UNLV should do wonders for his confidence.
But, like mentioned with Wilson above, will he be able to carry that over on a week-by-week basis? Will he develop a go-to move like O'Brien Schofield's speed rush and spin or Watt's bull rush? Will he become the key player the Badger defense was hoping to develop?
Only time will tell, but his performance Saturday should be telling one way or the other.
2.) Can the offense score 50-plus again?
It's obvious Russell Wilson brings an entirely new dynamic to the Badger offense. What was already a potent offense with the stable of running backs it possesses and an even better offensive line, has become downright filthy with the abilities Wilson has as the signal caller.
By scoring on each of its first eight possessions a week ago - - seven of which went for touchdowns - - Wilson and the UW offense set the season's bar incredibly high. They're not going to score 50 every week, especially once conference play begins. But judging by the balance and weaponry at several key positions, it could happen more times than not.
1.) Improved tackling:
Week one is always going to be a crapshoot simply because the players aren't tackling on a regular basis throughout fall camp. You can practice the fundamentals and approach of tackling until you're blue in the face but nothing truly emulates that key element to the game like the act itself.
So, though they don't practice tackling during the season any more than they do in fall camp, the fact that the team will now enter the routine of tackling on a weekly basis in a game should do wonders for its improvement. Expect, simply because there was a great emphasis on it throughout the week, for a better week of tackling from the UW defense against Oregon State.
The Wisconsin offense, especially with Wilson aboard, has the potential to become the best the school has ever seen. And when you think about it, that's really saying something because last season's offense was truly dynamic. But what, with a sculpted Montee Ball and James White to coincide with the always elusive and mesmerizing Wilson, this offense could be capable of doing things never before seen in Madison.
Knowing that, and knowing how banged up and inexperienced Oregon State is, I don't see this one being close. I think the Badgers are on a mission to prove they are a better defensive unit than they showed a week ago and I think they lay one on the Beavers.
Something tells me UW will pull away as this game wears on and win 52-20.
1-0 straight up. 1-0 against the spread.