Wisconsin Badger Football is almost here! As we approach August, there is only a little more than a month until kickoff against Penn State. As we preview the 2021 season, here is what Wisconsin needs to do to have a successful 2021 season.
Graham Mertz Needs To Bounce Back
When I say Graham Mertz needs to bounce back, I’m not saying he had a really bad 2020. In fact, for a first year starting quarterback, Mertz had a fairly good season. We all remember his debut against Illinois when he threw for 5 touchdowns and only one incompletion. Graham Mertz doesn’t need to play like that every week for the Badgers to be successful.
What I want to see from Graham Mertz is to be more confident with the ball. He has a great arm and the ability to make every throw. There were flashes of that potential last season. However, we also saw Mertz stick to his first read a lot as well. It didn’t help that he lost Danny Davis III and Kendric Pryor, his top two receivers, for a majority of the season. Both players are back, there is no quarterback battle, and Mertz has a full year under his belt. Expect a successful 2021 season from the Badgers starting quarterback.
The Offense Has To Establish The Run
The running game last season wasn’t the typical Wisconsin run game we are use to seeing in 2020. To be fair, Jonathan Taylor and Melvin Gordon were not in the backfield either to help. The running back room was really young last season. In addition, last year’s starter Nakia Watson didn’t play much and has since transferred.
The running game was a lot of Garrett Groshek and Jalen Berger. Groshek has departed, but Berger is only entering his sophomore year. Despite playing only four games, it’s obvious that Berger is ready to be the main man in the backfield this year and the years to come.
Clemson transfer Chez Mellusi should compliment Berger well in the backfield. Don’t be surprised if we see freshman Braelon Allen take some reps as well. With a veteran and good offensive line, the running game should be and will be better in 2021. Wisconsin is always a successful team when they establish the run game and win the time of possession battle.
The Roster Needs To Be Healthy
COVID-19 and other injures really hurt the Badgers last season. As a result, a ton of under classmen were asked to step up in the rotation when we didn’t expect it. For example, after injuries to Davis and Pryor, the Badgers were using former walk-on Jack Dunn and true freshman Chimere Dike were Graham Mertz’s go-to options. No disrespect to them, but Mertz could have benefited from having two established receivers on the field consistently.
After Rachad Wildgoose was injured against Northwestern, he declared for the NFL draft and didn’t play another snap. As a result, young players on the defense also had to step up and play a lot of meaningful snaps. I love that a ton of young players got good experience, but the Badgers will need their best 22 players on the field as much as possible if they want to make a serious run at the 2021 Big Ten Championship.
Establish Early Season Resume Wins
The Badgers drew a friendly Big Ten schedule. They avoid Ohio State and get Michigan, Northwestern, and Penn State at home. Notre Dame also looms as a non-conference game, but that is in Chicago so I expect a ton of Badger fans at Soldier Field.
Wisconsin draws Penn State, Notre Dame, and Michigan in three of their first four games. As a result, Wisconsin has a great chance to make an early season statement to the College Football Playoff Committee and the rest of the Big Ten. I can’t wait to see how the beginning of the season goes!
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