Nebraska opened up Big 10 play in Madison last season, and got a rude welcoming at the hands of the Badgers. Russel Wilson and company routed the Cornhuskers 48-17. This season it’s a whole new ball game. Wilson, and top target Nick Toon have left for the NFL, and the Badgers have to come to Lincoln.
Wilson transferred from North Carolina State for one season in Madison. It looks like the Badgers will “rent” another quarterback for the 2012 season. Danny O’Brien has transferred from Maryland to Wisconsin. He chose the Badgers over Penn. State, Mississippi, and Vanderbilt.
O’Brien graduated from Maryland and arrived on campus in June with two years of eligibility.
O’Brien was the ACC rookie of the year in 2010, and helped lead Maryland to a 9-4 record. Last season, he struggled, and broke his arm on Nov. 12 against Notre Dame. He did not site the change in uniforms as his reason for leaving the school.
The one thing that Wisconsin does bring back with them is 3 starters on a monster offensive line, and a Heisman Trophy finalist in Montee Ball. Ball carried the ball 307 times in 2011, and rushed for 1,923 yards, and 33 touchdowns in his Heisman push. He also caught 6 passes for a touchdown. He will be the driving force behind the Wisconsin offense in 2012.
Wisconsin will be breaking in a new offensive coordinator in, Matt Canada. Afterthe Badger’s offense put a school-record 44.1 points per game last season, and carried the team, there may be a roll reversal this year.
The 2011 Wisconsin defense will be forever be remembered for giving up last minute Hail Mary passes to Michigan State, and Ohio State to spoil a perfect season. Aside from those two instances, and giving up 45 points to Oregon in the Rose Bowl the Badgers defense has a pretty solid foundation and had a solid body of work last season.
The defense returns all four starters on the defensive line, and Mike Taylor, and Chris Borland ranked 1st and 2nd in the conference in total tackles last season. The duo combined to make an astounding 293 stops.
The biggest question mark remains in the Badgers secondary, but late in the season Devin Smith emerged as the shut down corner, the defense was lacking. Look for Dezmen Southward and Shelton Johnson to be the safeties in the defensive backfield.
Nebraska will have to run an eight-man front and take away Montee Ball and the Badgers running game to win. They will have to make O’Brien and the passing game beat them. Which is exactly what Russel Wilson did last season, but lets be honest. O’Brien is no Russel Wilson. Also with Mohamed Seisay added to the defensive backfield and Damion Stafford in his second year in the system, the defensive backs should be much improved this season.
I see play action, and getting the tight ends involved could be the best way to attach this stacked Badgers defense.
By Jimmie Allen
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