CMU is riding a high after a 38-21 victory over Albany, just their second in 13 games between 2018 and now. It was a much-needed bit of catharsis for the Chips, who have been hungry to prove last season was an abborition and not a pattern.
This week, they face a bit of a reality check, as they travel to Madison to take on the 17th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers.
We sat down with Tyler Hunt, podcast director and contributor at our SB Nation sister site Bucky's 5th Quarter, to get the tea on the boys in white and red.
Last week the Badgers dominated their opener 49-0 on the road. Everything went pretty well, but they still had some sloppy things to clean up if they want to contend for the Big Ten title. Still, a 49-0 game is something you’ll take every time so I don’t want to nitpick too much.
I think the Badgers identity is pretty well known each and every year. Run the ball, play good defense, and hope the quarterback can do just enough to manage the game. Is there anything different with this year’s scheme? At the base, no. However, I think Head Coach Paul Chryst has gotten a little more creative in his offense. He’s going to run the ball, but he’s doing it in some different ways than your typical cloud of dust off-tackle mentality. Jet sweeps, motions, etc. I think that is kind of something that might make the 2019 Badgers a little unique. Defensively its the same as usual with Jim Leonard. I think he’s a top DC in the game and Wisconsin will have to all they can to keep him at UW as long as possible.
At quarterback, Jack Coan is the starter after playing a little last year. I think he’s an upgrade to Alex Hornibrook because he’s careful with the football and throws a better ball in my opinion. People have been hard on Jack, but he’s hardly gotten a chance yet. This will be his first home start, every other game has been on the road. I think he’s out to prove something this year with highly touted Graham Mertz behind him. He missed a few deep balls in week 1 but he took care of the ball.
At running back you’ve got Jonathan Taylor. We all know him as a runner. Heisman candidate. However, he has developed in the passing game. He was Wisconsin’s leading rusher and receiver in week 1 which is a big stride in his game. Wisconsin always has two good backs, and Nakia Watson is going to be the next great one for the Badgers I think. He broke onto the scene last week for some but those who followed his recruiting knew he was going to be a great back at Wisconsin.
At receiver the Badgers are the deepest they’ve ever been. Quintez Cephus is back after being found not guilty on sexual assault allegations, and he’s already making a big impact. I think he’s an NFL guy, and will emerge as Coan’s #1 target. Behind him, the Badgers have a big-play threat in Danny Davis III and some speed guys in Kendrick Pryor and AJ Taylor. Talent is there, Coan just needs to get them the ball.
The offensive line is young but experienced. The Badgers lost a lot from that unit a year ago but Wisconsin produces great line after great line. I don’t worry about them at all.
One area of concern is the tight end position. They have a good pass catcher in Jake Ferguson, but Wisconsin uses tight ends a lot in the running game too. With not a lot of depth there, it might cause some issues until they get some guys back from injury.
Wisconsin’s 2018 season had a lot of issues, but the biggest was the defensive line. Injuries hampered that unit, and the rest of the defense suffered from no pressure. Now they’re healthy in that area, but they’ll have to sustain it. Bryson Williams looks like he could be the next great nose tackle for Wisconsin.
The linebacker position lost a lot from last year’s team, but so far the depth looks like it could be there. New faces, but talented kids. Chris Orr is the leader of the unit and expects to have a big year after not playing a ton last year. Zack Baun is the best pass rusher on the team off the edge and a leader of the unit. The other two spots should fill in nicely around them.
The secondary is experienced but young. They were a little sloppy last week and will have to be better as the season goes on. They’re a confident group though, and the more they play the better they will be. Most of the guys were Freshman last year, so we’ll see if they make that year two jump. Scott Nelson is a really good safety but looks like he will be out against CMU.
Special teams will be interesting as the Badgers have a new kicker in Collin Larsh. He missed a makeable field goal last week, and that just can’t happen in big games. Is it an area of concern? Yes, but it’s a little too early to worry about right now. If he misses one this weekend, might be time to panic a bit. At punter, the Badgers have a star in Anthony Lotti. Stud. As for the returners, I think UW wants to get more out of that aspect as it hasn’t gotten much lately.
I think the Badgers have enough to be a really good team, but time will tell. I think they’re underrated but that’s kinda where Wisconsin likes to be at this point.
Many thanks to Tyler Hunt and Bucky's 5th Quarter for helping us out! They can be found on Twitter @B5Q and online at buckys5thquarter.com.
UPDATE on Sept. 6, 9:50 a.m. EST: Editor changed the status of Quintez Cephus from "innocent" to "not guilty" to more properly reflect the verdict from his case.