The Wisconsin Badgers suffered a massive loss on Monday.
It was announced that Wisconsin QB Tanner Mordecai would be out indefinitely after suffering a broken hand in the first half of a 15-6 loss to the Iowa Hawkeyes on Saturday.
Freshman QB Braedyn Locke took over and struggled mightily against the vaunted Hawkeyes defense. Locke went 15-of-30 with 122 yards, one interception, and one lost fumble.
The loss of Mordecai could prove to be massive for the Badgers’ Big Ten West implications because Iowa has a favorable schedule for the rest of the season, and one more loss for the Badgers could knock them out of the Big Ten race. Wisconsin plays Illinois this Saturday at 2:30 p.m. and then plays a massive game against the Ohio State Buckeyes. Wisconsin hasn’t defeated Ohio State since 2010, and a win would keep the Wisconsin Badgers in the race.
But, if Wisconsin hopes to punch a ticket to Indy, Braedyn Locke has to play well the rest of the season, so here’s how Phil Longo should structure his offense the rest of the season.
Why has the passing offense for the Wisconsin Badgers struggled thus far?
There are two schools of thought here. One is that Wisconsin had to replace their depleted receiving talent from last year, and they hunted for new receivers via the transfer portal. Phil Longo’s offense hasn’t taken shape yet, and we’re already at the halfway point of the season. Two, running an effective air-raid offense in the Big Ten can be a tall task because Longo is finding that defenses in the Big Ten are tougher to throw against than his two previous stops in the ACC (North Carolina) and SEC (Ole Miss.)
Wisconsin also doesn’t have elite receiving talent yet, and outside of Chimere Dike, there hasn’t been a breakout star at wide receiver this season. It’ll be interesting to see if CJ Williams, Bryson Green, and Will Pauling can turn their game up another level at the halfway point of the season.
What can Braedyn Locke and the Wisconsin Badgers do to improve offensively in Tanner Mordecai’s absence?
Locke shouldn’t struggle as much as he did last week against Iowa. Being thrown in against a Phil Parker-coached Iowa defense is a nearly impossible task, especially for a freshman, but there were some encouraging signs.
Locke led the Badgers on two field goal drives after making impressive throws in the 3rd quarter.
A transfer from Mississippi State, Locke was a highly-touted QB out of Rockwell High School. He threw for 128 touchdowns and only 26 interceptions. Locke holds the Texas Class 6A career record for passing touchdowns and is second all-time in passing yards.
Here’s what the Wisconsin Badgers have to do offensively over the next six weeks to punch a ticket to Indianapolis.
What the Wisconsin Badgers have to do to wake up their lackluster passing offense is that they have to continue to give the ball to RB Braelon Allen. The offense has worked in terms of not having Allen be the go-to guy on offense, but now he might have to be in the short term. The loss of Chez Mellusi hurt because the team lost a player who was shifty and could catch the ball out of the backfield.
Wisconsin could run the same offense that they did with Mordecai. Locke looked comfortable running Phil Longo’s offense and was more confident than Mordecai did against Iowa.
The Wisconsin Badgers can win with Braedyn Locke at quarterback. Last week was a challenging situation for Locke, but now he can use the next six weeks to help this struggling passing offense out of its doldrums and help keep Wisconsin in the Big Ten race.
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