Dave Wannstedt on Wisconsin’s offense: ‘I’m still not sold, I’m really not’

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Wisconsin boasts a defense that is arguably the best in the nation and with an offense that is starting to come along. Now with four straight wins, including an impressive 27-7 win against Iowa this past weekend, there is a lot of momentum for the Badgers heading into Saturday’s game at Rutgers.

But for Dave Wannstedt, Wisconsin (5-3, 3-2 Big Ten) has to be more than just a strong defense that creates turnovers. While the offense has improved in recent weeks, in particular quarterback Graham Mertz seemed a bit improved last week, the veteran NFL and college coach said on ‘B1G Today’ on the Big Ten Network that Wisconsin needs to continue being dominant on defense to carry the offense.

“Wisconsin, it’s all about the turnovers. I want to say that their offensive has got it together but I’m still not sold, I’m really not. Mertz makes me nervous, I’ll be honest with you,” Wannstedt said on the Big Ten Network.

“But their defense I got it here – the first six games they had four takeaways to help their offense, right? The last two games eight turnaways. When you give the ball that many times your offense in good field position, they should score points and they are. So at least they’re getting confidence now. I mean, they’re going to be there in the final week. I promise you Paul Chryst will do a great job with those guys.”

Mertz has thrown for 1,049 yards with three touchdowns and seven interceptions this season. But he hasn’t had an interception the last three weeks as the Badgers have won four straight games.

(What is Aron Cruickshank’s status for Rutgers football this weekend?)

Earlier this week, Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano praised Wisconsin as the best defense in the country. The Scarlet Knights are 4-4 (1-4 Big Ten) and are coming off a solid 20-14 win at Illinois on Saturday.

Wannstedt, a former college head coach at Pittsburgh for six years who was an NFL head coach with the Washington Football Team and the Chicago Bears, said that relying on turnovers is not a sound strategy for boosting an offense that is struggling.

The Badgers come into Saturday’s game at Rutgers third from the bottom in the Big Ten in scoring (21.9 points per game) offense and ninth with 353 yards of offense per game.

“The scary thing is as a coach, you can’t count on getting those,” Wannstedt said of turnovers. “You got to say we got to win these games if everything’s even, you know, now if we get them that’s a bonus. So we’ll see.”