The Wisconsin Badgers fell 38-17 to #14 Michigan yesterday in Madison. The Badgers fall to 1-3, a record they haven’t had since 1990, the first year Barry Alvarez was the head coach. There are a ton of question marks surrounding this team after 4 games. Here are my thoughts from yesterday’s game.
The Offensive Line Might Be The Biggest Problem
Paul Chryst on the offensive line:
"There's isn't a strong identity right now. That's something we've gotta work towards getting.
"Right now, I don't want us to be known as an inconsistent group. That's what we've been."#Badgers
— Evan Flood (@Evan_Flood) October 2, 2021
Last week, Badger fans and media (myself included) went after Graham Mertz. It’s still fair to this day because he was not good against Notre Dame. For a majority of the first half, it was a same thing.
However, the offensive line has not been good either. yesterday, the unit was abysmal as a whole. Graham Mertz and Chase Wolf had little opportunity to scan the field and had defenders in this face all game.
Paul Chryst said in his press conference that they have the linemen who give them the best chance to win. However, it’s time to consider a switch on the offensive line. Chryst has also been rotating linemen through the first four games too. As many as eight or nine linemen have been recording snaps.
Offensive linemen need to build chemistry as a unit. It’s the best way to protect their quarterback. Paul Chryst needs to find his best five offensive linemen and stick to them. It’s not good that after spring camp, fall camp, and September that the best five haven’t been established yet. That needs to change.
The Offense Continues To Turn The Ball Over
11 turnovers in four games from Wisconsin quarterbacks. To say that’s bad is an understatement. The Badgers have one of the best defenses in the country. Because of turnovers, it seemed that the defense was out on the field all day yesterday. Even for a great defense like Wisconsin’s, the longer you’re on the field, the more prone you are to giving up points.
I don’t think the defense was amazing yesterday, but they still played well enough to win this game. The offense needs to keep the defense on the sideline longer to gain momentum and to to rest the unit as a whole.
Ball security is a must at the quarterback position and the Badgers are struggling to do that. It’s a big reason why Notre Dame scored 31 fourth quarter points last week and why Michigan scored 25 second half points.
Graham Mertz Is The Answer At Quarterback
The Badger offense had -2 total yards at one point in the second quarter. They couldn’t do anything and Mertz was unable to find a receiver. Then came the boo birds and the “We Want Chase” chants.
I myself was thinking a change at quarterback needed to be made. There needed to be some sort of energy and something new, All of a sudden, a good throw from Mertz to Jake Ferguson changed the momentum and vibe of the crowd and team. After being down 10-0, the offense moved the ball that resulted in a Collin Larsh field goal.
What a catch, Chimere Dike!pic.twitter.com/Hi23SlsofE
— Cam Mellor (@CamMellor) October 2, 2021
After a Michigan field goal to make it 13-3, Mertz was really aggressive and began throwing dimes, reminding us why he was as highly rated as he was out of high school. We were reminded he can make the throws necessary and can throw some beautiful balls.
Unfortunately, on the opening drive of the second half, Mertz was take out with a chest injury, resulting in him gong to the hospital. He has since been released and his status for next week it TBD.
Chase Wolf took over for Mertz. We were reminded quickly why Mertz is the best QB on this roster. Any sort of momentum coming out for the locker room only down 13-10 was gone from there.
The Big Ten West Hopes Are Just About Done
Throughout the off-season, it was almost a guarantee Wisconsin would at least make the Big Ten Championship, Besides a date with Iowa, everyone was saying this team would blow through the Big Ten West.
After four week. The hopes are all bu gone. The only way I see this team in Indianapolis is Iowa losing to Penn State next week and October 30 in Madison. Wisconsin would also have to win out.
As a result, there is still hope, but the Badgers needs help moving forward. With the status of Graham Mertz up in the air, it’s hard to imagine this happening.