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Wisconsin’s offense was bland in the team’s 16-10 loss against Penn State last Saturday.
Yes, the unit found success between the 20s and was able to consistently move the ball against a really good Penn State defense. But when it mattered in the red zone, the Badgers made crucial mistakes—fumbles and penalties—and lacked schematic success.
9 teams had 29 or more first downs last week. Only one lost. 😬 #Badgers
— Dave Heller (@dave_heller) September 10, 2021
As Bally Sports’ Dave Heller hints at, when a team picks up 29 first downs and travels inside the opposing red zone four times, the team usually scores a lot of points and wins the football game. That obviously didn’t happen.
So, why did Penn State safety Jaquan Brisker say playing the Badger offense was like playing someone in Madden (meaning once they found something that worked they kept going to it)? Because Paul Chryst’s offense lacked depth and deception all afternoon.
Look at this clip from last year’s win at Michigan. Pryor comes across in pre-snap motion, Jalen Berger running the ball is one option and TE Jake Ferguson ends up leaking out and finishing with a big gain.
I suspect we will see a lot of this action next season with a full & healthy offense.
Pryor comes in motion (wrinkle 1), PA to Berger (wrinkle 2), boot to Ferguson (wrinkle 3). There’s just so much they can do out of those looks. With the weapons there (and 84 back), look out pic.twitter.com/Mm5sYwemU9
— Ben Kenney (@benzkenney) March 5, 2021
Looks like this can be related to pitch sequencing in baseball. When a pitcher throws a fastball on the inside corner, they do so for a strike but they also do so to set up the next pitch. It’s likely a changeup down and in immediately follows, as the batter’s eye level and speed were set up by the previous pitch.
This is what a successful Badger offense looks like with Mertz at quarterback, Ferguson at tight end and either Mellusi or Berger in the backfield: Each offense look has multiple dimensions, Chryst can call different plays off the look and the plays can be called in different scenarios.
These are looks and motions we just simply did not see last Saturday.
While the struggles of the offensive line and Graham Mertz were big reasons behind Wisconsin’s red-zone struggles last Saturday, Chryst is partially to blame here as well.
Saturday’s game against Eastern Michigan needs to see the Badgers use pre-snap motion like referred to above and it needs to see a gameplan with more depth at all levels.
Eastern Michigan presents the perfect matchup for this to happen and the perfect tune-up for the unit before Notre Dame and Michigan. Momentum is real here, and we need to see Chryst find his groove along with his star players.