Leg injury expected to keep Wisconsin RB Chris James out of action against Purdue

MADISON — It appears as though Wisconsin will be without running back Chris James on Saturday against Purdue.

A post on the junior’s Snapchat account read, “Not playing this week but I know [my] brothers will take care of business.”

James was listed as questionable with a leg injury on the report the team released Thursday. He left last week’s game against Nebraska in the first half and did not return. Through five games, the Pittsburgh transfer has tallied 148 yards rushing and 36 yards receiving.

With James not expected to play, graduate transfer Rachid Ibrahim figures to see more time as he takes over as Wisconsin’s third-down back. In relief of James against the Huskers, Ibrahim ran seven times for 51 yards, and on the season he’s got 102 yards on 21 carries.

Wisconsin already ruled wide receiver Jazz Peavy out for the game with a leg injury.

Grades for Wisconsin at the quarter pole of the season

These types of articles are normally reserved for the middle of the season when you’ve likely got six or more games to judge a team on. But with Wisconsin’s bye coming after just three weeks — and no other break in the action until the first or second week of December — we decided to undertake an effort to grade what we’ve seen so far in a 3-0 start for the Badgers. Is it fair to do so with such a small sample size? Probably not. But here we go.

Quarterback: B+

Save for a rough outing late in the second quarter and most of the second half against Florida Atlantic, Alex Hornibrook has been fantastic in his second year as a starter. After throwing nine touchdowns all of last year, the sophomore has thrown eight already and is on pace to break Russell Wilson’s single-season school record of 33. And perhaps even more importantly, he’s got just one interception.

The competition will certainly pick up in Big Ten play, but Hornibrook looks like the quarterback many envisioned coming into the year.

Running back: A-

If we were grading this based on Jonathan Taylor alone, it would have easily been an A+. The New Jersey native has been terrific in averaging 146 yards per game — tops for any freshman in the country. He’s still learning and isn’t perfect, but his blend of power, speed and balance make him a terror for defenses.

The rest of the running back group has been up and down. Junior Chris James was anxious and struggled in his debut against Utah State, before bouncing back with a 100-yard outing in a win over Florida Atlantic. Sophomore Bradrick Shaw looked solid as the starter in the opener, but an injury kept him out in Week 2, and it seems unlikely he’ll get his job back this season considering what Taylor has done.

The freshman is the lead dog here and is the reason for such a high grade.

Wide receiver: B

All of the wide receivers have taken a significant leap from a year ago, especially Quintez Cephus. The sophomore already has three touchdowns and has become Wisconsin’s No. 1 option on the outside.

A.J. Taylor, Danny Davis and Jazz Peavy have all been involved and looked solid, but the overall grade suffers due to the drops in the first two weeks. Still, this group has the makings of being the deepest Wisconsin has had in recent memory. Their final grade figures to be much higher.

Tight ends: A-

Troy Fumagalli was outstanding in the first two games, gaining nearly 100 yards each week. He caught his third touchdown of the year against BYU in what was an otherwise quiet game for the preseason All-American. The senior has also been part of a strong rushing attack that is currently second in the Big Ten.

Outside of junior Zander Neuville’s impressive touchdown catch against Utah State, he and sophomore Kyle Penniston have not really been heavily involved in the passing game, combining for five catches through three games. They, like Fumagalli, still play a vital role in the run game.

LISTEN: The latest edition of our Wisconsin podcast ‘The Camp’

Offensive line: B

The numbers would suggest Wisconsin has been off the charts good along the line, as the Badgers rank 14th in the country in rushing at 275 yards per game and are giving up about one sack per game. But while they’ve been pretty good, in only one game — against BYU — were they the dominating unit many thought they would be. While the game was still in doubt, they opened huge running holes and allowed Hornibrook to have all day to pass. If they can get that kind of effort on a week-to-week basis, their end of the of season grade will jump significantly.

Defensive line: B+

Wisconsin’s defense isn’t designed for the linemen to have big numbers, and that has certainly played out for the group in the first three games as they’ve combined for just one tackle for loss. But they’ve played a role in helping the Badgers limit opponents to 90.6 yards per game on the ground, good enough for 15th in the nation.

They’ve done it largely without senior Chikwe Obasih (knee), who remains sidelined indefinitely . While it’s been a challenge without him, redshirt freshman Isaiahh Loudermilk has filled in nicely behind senior starters Alec James and Conor Sheehy.

Linebackers: A-

Teams have been able to run the ball early in games against Wisconsin, but that’s been more about scheme than anything physical. Once they’ve had a chance to digest what they’re seeing, it’s been lights out for opposing offenses.

At inside linebacker, sophomore Chris Orr leads the team in tackles coming off a missed season with a torn ACL, while junior T.J. Edwards has continued to evolve as a playmaker, coming up with three tackles for loss and two interceptions. Junior Ryan Connelly has been solid, too.

On the outside, senior Leon Jacobs leads Wisconsin with four tackles for loss, senior Garret Dooley has been solid on the edge, and junior Andrew Van Ginkel has proven to be the pass rusher the Badgers needed with his two sacks.

Secondary: B

Wisconsin has been up in its games, so the passing numbers for the opposition aren’t great indicators of how well the secondary is playing — and they are playing well. The only concern here is the issues they had in communication in the first two games, including on a play that resulted in a long touchdown for Florida Atlantic. But none of those things showed up against BYU, and it’s possible they just needed time to adjust with several new faces seeing the field for the first time.

Special teams: B+

The Badgers have been solid here, with kicker Rafael Gaglianone going 3 of 4 on field goals, while Anthony Lotti has dropped four of his 10 punts inside the 20-yard line. With kickoffs split between Zach Hintze and P.J. Rosowski, Wisconsin is allowing opponents to start — on average — at their own 22-yard line.

The return units with Nick Nelson and Taylor, especially the latter on kickoff, have been one or two blocks away from taking one back for a score.

Overall: A-

After an uneven first two weeks, Wisconsin showed against BYU what it can be and what many believe it will be. That’s reflected in the overall grade, as we add in the promise shown and the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately factor.

Preview: (9) Wisconsin vs Utah State

THE BASICS

The teams: The No. 9 Wisconsin Badgers (0-0) vs the Utah State Aggies (0-0)

The time: 8 p.m. CDT, Friday

The place: Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, Wis.

The TV coverage: ESPN with Adam Amin and Dusty Dvoracek in the booth, and Molly McGrath on the sideline.

The last time: In 2012, Utah State’s Josh Thompson missed a 37-yard field goal with 6 seconds left, allowing Wisconsin to escape with a 16-14 victory over Gary Andersen and the Aggies.

The series: Tied 1-1

The line: Wisconsin -27.5

The Badgers injury report:

OUT

Game:

RB Taiwan Deal (leg)
WR Kendric Pryor (face)
WR George Rushing (leg)
FB Jake Whalen (head)

Season:

LB Jack Cichy (knee)
LB Zack Baun (foot)
RB Sam Brodner (knee)
LB Mason Stokke (leg)

THE BREAKDOWN: FIVE THINGS TO WATCH

1) The start

Wisconsin opens the 2017 season with high expectations. The Badgers are a consensus top-10 team for the first time since 2007 and nearly everyone is picking them to take home a third Big Ten West title in four years. And by all indications they are capable of fulfilling those expectations and more. On a team-wide basis, this fall camp, at least what the media got to see, was the most impressive since at least 2013. Will what we saw in practice show up when the lights come on? If it does, watch out.

2) Year No. 2 for Alex Hornibrook

Wisconsin’s offense has a number of very accomplished veterans, but it’ll go only as far as sophomore quarterback Alex Hornibrook takes it.

The good news is that he appears primed to lead it to new heights. After going 7-2 as a starter in 2016, Hornibrook set out to eliminate weaknesses in his game, spending his winter and spring break in California with quarterback guru George Whitfield, attending the invite-only Manning Passing Academy in June and leading player-only throwing sessions. The results, at least in fall camp, have been more than positive. His pocket presence is vastly improved and he has a little more zip on his passes, allowing him to fit throws into tighter spaces.

Fans will get to judge it for themselves on Friday, but the consensus among media members was Hornibrook took a big step from last fall.

3) The replacements

The Badgers lost a number of really talented players from their 2016 squad that are now fighting for jobs in the NFL, and many eyes will be on their replacements.

It starts at left tackle, where All-American Ryan Ramczyk left early for the draft and was a first-round pick of the New Orleans Saints. Wisconsin went with junior Michael Deiter as his replacement, and while he’s started 27 straight games, none of them have come at tackle. His ability to handle the edge is paramount for the offense.

In the backfield, Wisconsin lost more than 1,800 yards rushing from Corey Clement and Dare Ogunbowale. That void will be filled by at least three players and maybe more as junior Chris James, sophomore Bradrick Shaw and freshman Jonathan Taylor battle for carries.

On defense, outside linebacker Vince Biegel and T.J. Watt got drafted in April, but their fill-ins — seniors Garrett Dooley and Leon Jacobs — are more than capable of stepping up, especially Jacobs, who had a monster fall camp and has the makings of a dominant pass rusher.

And in the secondary, where cornerback Sojourn Shelton and safety Leo Musso needed to be replaced, the Badgers appear to have top-flight options in the form of transfer Nick Nelson at cornerback and wide receiver-turned-cornerback-turned safety in senior Natrell Jamerson.

4) Young guys on deck

Wisconsin isn’t known for playing a lot of true freshmen, but there are a number of them in the two-deep, including three at skill positions.

Jack Coan beat out redshirt freshman Kare Lyles for the backup quarterback job, Taylor’s performance in the final few weeks of fall camp has the coaching staff salivating over his potential and wide receiver Danny Davis has proven to be as good as his 4-star recruiting ranking suggests.

Taylor and Davis are almost guarantees to play, while it remains to be seen how coach Paul Chryst wants to use Coan in blowout situations.

5) Back in time

After two so-so years, the Wisconsin offensive line looks to be on the verge of returning to the dominating form it’s showed so often over the last 25 years. There aren’t any seniors, but nearly all the contributors are in their third or fourth years in the program, having gained the strength and experience necessary for success. Utah State’s defensive line might not be the greatest test, but it is the first and it’s one the line is ready to attack.

NUMBERS TO CONSIDER

Wisconsin has won 37 straight home games against non-conference teams, the second-longest streak in the country. The last loss came in 2003.

Friday will be the sixth time the Badgers have opened the season with a night game at home. They are 4-1 in those games, including a 51-17 whipping of UNLV in 2011.

Senior Troy Fumagalli needs 81 yards to move into fifth-place for career receiving yards among tight ends in Wisconsin history. If he puts up the same numbers he did a year ago — 580 yards — he would finish his career with the second-most yards for a tight end at UW.

PREDICTIONS

Zach Heilprin’s prediction: Wisconsin 41, Utah State 3 (0-0 on the season)
Ebo’s prediction: Wisconsin 44, Utah State 6 (0-0 on the season)
Joe Miller’s prediction: Wisconsin 42 , Utah State 7 (0-0 on the season)

Wisconsin football: Predicting the depth chart

MADISON — The University of Wisconsin will unveil its first depth chart of the season on Sunday as the Badgers begin preparations for their opener against Utah State on Friday.

Before they do, though, we thought we’d take a shot at what it might look like.

Quarterback:

1) Alex Hornibrook (RS SO)
2) Jack Coan (FR)

Notes: The last practice the media saw was on Aug. 12, and to that point Hornibrook was having a very strong fall camp. After going 7-2 as a starter in 2016, the redshirt sophomore is now the clear leader of the offense and appears poised for big things this fall.

Coan, meanwhile, bested Kare Lyles to earn the backup job. The true freshman is still very raw, but he’s got the physical tools to be a very good quarterback at some point in his Wisconsin career.

Tailback

1) Bradrick Shaw (RS SO) OR Chris James (JR)
3) Jonathan Taylor (FR)

Fullback

1) Alec Ingold (JR)
2) Austin Ramesh (SR)

Notes: Shaw and James figure to each get the ball plenty this fall, though it’s unclear who will get the first snap of the season.

Behind them, things are a little murky. When healthy, junior Taiwan Deal is worthy of playing time. Unfortunately for him, he rarely has been and that was the case in fall camp. His absence allowed the most talked about player in the last 10 days — Taylor — to make big strides. The New Jersey product is in line for a much bigger role than anyone expected at the start of camp.

Wide receiver

1) Jazz Peavy (SR) and Quintez Cephus (SO)
2) A.J. Taylor (SO) and Danny Davis (FR)

Notes: Highlight catches were the norm at practice this fall for Wisconsin, and these four made a lot of them. Peavy is dynamic with the ball in his hands, Cephus is a big play waiting to happen, Taylor is a much more polished route runner than a year ago and Davis runs and moves better than the coaches thought he would.

Injuries hit the position in fall camp, and it’s unclear when senior George Rushing (leg) and redshirt freshman Kendric Pryor (moped accident) will return.

Tight end

1) Troy Fumagalli (SR)
2) Kyle Penniston (RS SO)
3) Zander Neuville (JR)

Notes: Fumagalli is one of the best tight ends in the country and that showed during fall camp. Penniston and Neuville will both get plenty of time, with the former a nice threat in the passing game. If injuries hit, redshirt freshman Luke Benzschawel could work his way into the rotation.

Offensive line

LT: Michael Deiter (JR) and Cole Van Lanen (RS FR)
LG: Jon Dietzen (RS SO) and Micah Kapoi (JR)
C: Tyler Biadasz (RS FR) and Brett Connors (JR)
RG: Beau Benzschawel (JR) and Jason Erdmann (RS SO)
RT: David Edwards (RS SO) and Patrick Kasl (RS FR)

Notes: If the starting five can stay healthy, it has a chance to be a dominant group. But recent history suggests everyone won’t stay healthy and that makes depth important. Wisconsin can manage an injury at guard or center, but if one of the tackles were to go down things could get dicey.

Defensive line

DE: Alec James (SR) or Chikwe Obasih (SR)
NG: Olive Sagapolu (JR) and Garrett Rand (SO)
DE: Conor Sheehy (SR) and Isaiahh Loudermilk (RS FR)

Notes: Wisconsin is loaded along the line, starting with the three seniors and Sagapolu, but the future is also very bright with Rand and Loudermilk.

Linebackers

OLB: Leon Jacobs (SR) and Zack Baun (RS SO)
ILB: T.J. Edwards (JR) and Arrington Farrar (JR)
ILB: Chris Orr (RS SO) and Ryan Connelly (JR)
OLB: Garrett Dooley (SR) and Andrew Van Ginkel (JR)

Notes: Even after losing senior Jack Cichy to a torn ACL in camp, the inside linebackers are stacked with Edwards, Orr and Connelly.

On the outside, Jacobs has the chance to be an absolute terror when rushing the passer.

Secondary:

CB: Nick Nelson (JR) and Dontye Carriere-Williams (RS FR)
S: D’Cota Dixon (JR) and Joe Ferguson (SR)
S: Natrell Jamerson (SR) and Patrick Johnson (SO)
CB: Derrick Tindal (SR) and Lubern Figaro (SR)

Notes: The hype around Nelson, a transfer from Hawaii, is real and deserved. With him and Tindal, the Badgers have one of the better tandems in the Big Ten.

Carriere-Williams and Figaro were still battling for the nickel spot when camp closed to the media.

Jamerson continued to look more and more comfortable at safety after moving from cornerback, while Dixon is ready to build on what was a pretty good first year as a starter.

Special teams:

Kicker: Rafael Gaglianone (JR) and Zach Hintze (RS SO)
Punter: Anthony Lotti (SO) and P.J. Rosowski (JR)
Kickoff: Rosowski

Kick return: A.J. Taylor (RS SO) and Chris James (JR)
Punt return: Nick Nelson (JR) and Jazz Peavy (SR)

Longsnapper:

Adam Bay (FR)

Notes: Gaglianone seemed to be hitting the ball well during camp and is now fully healthy after missing the final 11 games of 2016 with a back injury. Rosowski earned a scholarship this week in large part due to his work on kickoffs.

Nelson is extremely smooth as a punt returner, while Taylor and James are nice options as kick returners.

Badgers excited for a healthy Taiwan Deal at running back

MADISON — Paul Chryst doesn’t normally offer up information on his own. Ask him a question about his team or a player and you’ll usually get something from the third-year coach, but he rarely volunteers anything without prompting. That’s what made his comments a few months ago about Taiwan Deal noteworthy.

Following the spring game in April, the Wisconsin coach was asked about the battle at running back between sophomore Bradrick Shaw and junior Chris James. After talking about those two, though, he brought up Deal’s name, saying they were excited to get him back after he missed the entire spring following offseason surgery.

The answer caught a few people off guard considering Deal had all of 12 carries in the final three months of the 2016 season and finished the year with 164 yards and no touchdowns. While it was known he’d been dealing with an ankle injury, most didn’t know how bad it actually was. It happened early in the year, and he never felt right the rest of the way. But Deal had surgery on the ankle after the season, took part in summer workouts and is now ready to push for time in a backfield that needs to replace 405 carries and 1,881 yards of production from a year ago.

“He healed up in the spring, had a great summer,” running backs coach John Settle said Friday. “The strength staff is fired up about how he finished the summer. Nobody is happier than he is to take the field without the worries of his ankle popping out on him.”

LISTEN: RBs coach John Settle talks Chris James, Bradrick Shaw and Taiwan Deal

Deal has rarely been healthy in his time at Wisconsin. He suffered a broken hand as a true freshman that led him to redshirt, had 503 yards and six touchdowns in 2015 but was plagued by an ankle injury over the second half of the year, and then was barely heard from after the month of September last fall.

“That’s been the frustrating thing for us,” Settle said of Deal’s injury issues. “Talent-wise, he’s probably the most natural of a guy we’ve had on the roster. But he’s always had something that’s been nagging him and couldn’t reach his full potential, in my mind.”

At 6-foot-1, 219 pounds, Deal has show an ability to run with power and averaged 5.1 yards per carry in his limited action as a sophomore. While Shaw and James both had strong springs, the belief at this point is there won’t be one back that dominates the carries, with the Badgers willing to spread the wealth to all that deserve it and that should include Deal — if he can stay healthy.

“He now feels good about where he is,” Settle said. “He’s chomping at the bit and ready to go.”

Practice No. 1

Wisconsin hit the field for the first practice of fall camp on Saturday. Here are a few things that stood out.

— As we first reported on Friday, junior Michael Deiter did indeed line up at left tackle with the first-team offense. Splitting his time between center and guard the last two years, Deiter has started 27 straight games and is now being asked to fill the void left by All-American Ryan Ramczyk, who was taken in the first round of the NFL draft in April. But the move, at least according to Chryst, isn’t that big of a deal and may not even be permanent.

“It was permanent today,” the coach said. “But he’s still going to have to do some center stuff and guard [stuff]. As we go through camp you’ll see a lot of guys moving. I wouldn’t try to make that any [kind of] lead story for anybody.”

The rest of the first-team line had sophomore Jon Dietzen at left guard, redshirt freshman Tyler Biadasz at center, junior Beau Benzschawel at right guard and sophomore David Edwards at right tackle.

The second line consisted of redshirt freshman Cole Van Lanen at LT, junior Micah Kapoi at LG, junior Brett Connors at C, sophomore Jason Erdmann at RG and redshirt freshman Patrick Kasl at RT.

LISTEN: OC Joe Rudolph is very high on center Tyler Biadasz

— The closest thing to a play of the day was quarterback Alex Hornibrook hooking up with wide receiver Jazz Peavy for a long touchdown in 7-on-7 drills. The senior put a double move on the cornerback and had 10 yards of separation by the time the ball found him.

— There were no surprises on the defensive depth chart with the first-team looking like this:

DL: senior Conor Sheehy, junior Olive Sagapolu, senior Alec James
OLB: seniors Garrett Dooley, Leon Jacobs
ILB: senior Jack Cichy, junior T.J. Edwards
CB: senior Derrick Tindal, junior Nick Nelson
S: senior Natrell Jamerson, junior D’Cota Dixon

— During the special teams period, Peavy, Nelson and a pair of true freshmen — WRs Danny Davis and Cade Green — were back as punt returners.

Wisconsin Spring Game: Defense 20, Offense 17

MADISON — In a spring game missing nearly every marquee player on Wisconsin’s roster, the defense prevailed over the offense 20-17 Friday night at Camp Randall Stadium.

Playing the game under the lights for the first time, a crowd of 8,095 were treated to a practice segment followed by an hour-long game with a running clock, played mostly by backups, including at quarterback where freshmen Jack Coan and Kare Lyles got all the snaps with sophomore Alex Hornibrook looking on.

The defense, which could rack up points through sacks, three-and-outs and forcing turnovers, held the offense out of the end zone until the final play from scrimmage, as Coan found tight end Zander Neuville for an 8-yard touchdown.

Though it was difficult to take much of anything from the game itself, it was the culmination of 15 practices, all of which were open to the media.

Here, then, are some of our thoughts on what we saw over the last month.

1) Backup quarterback is a concern

Wisconsin returns 15 starters from last year’s 11-3 squad that won the Big Ten West, and many are picking the Badgers to do it again. And while we’ll acknowledge it’s only April, the chances of them repeating would likely be derailed if there’s an injury at the quarterback spot.

Hornibrook had a solid spring and is the unquestioned leader of the offense. But not since Russell Wilson took every meaningful snap in 2011 has Wisconsin not needed their backup quarterback at some point.

Coan, who should still be a senior in high school right now, looked solid on Friday and generally outperformed Kare Lyles this spring, especially during the scrimmage portions. That bodes well for him, but it also came mostly against the second- and third-team defense. Both guys need to take a big jump this summer to be ready if Hornibrook were to go down.

2) Finding a left tackle

The offensive line has a chance to be as good as its been since 2014, but the Badgers need to solidify the left tackle spot vacated by All-American Ryan Ramczyk. Sophomore David Edwards, who started eight games at right tackle last year, moved to the left side this spring and was OK. An ankle injury sidelined him late, and it led the Badgers to move junior Michael Deiter into his spot. Deiter has started games at center and guard during his career, and coach Paul Chryst said it’s entirely possible he could add tackle to the list when the season starts.

“Whatever we have to do to get the best five on the field,” Chryst said of their mindset. “The more guys can do, play different spots, whether it be right side, left side, center, guard or tackle, it’s helpful.”

Depending on how the summer goes, it would not be a surprise to see Deiter at left tackle, with sophomore Jon Dietzen at left guard, highly regarded redshirt freshman Tyler Biadasz at center, junior Beau Benzschawel at right guard and Edwards back at right tackle, and then having experienced backups in juniors Micah Kapoi and Jake Maxwell, and up-and-coming freshmen Cole Van Lanen and Patrick Kasl.

3) The defensive line is stacked

No position group on the team has more experience than the defensive line where they return their top six players from last season and are even deeper this time around.

Redshirt freshman Isaiahh Loudermilk spent most of the spring in the offensive backfield, and sophomore Garrett Rand got a ton of reps and found a home at defensive end. Both guys are going to push seniors Alec James, Conor Sheehy and Chikwe Obasih for playing time this fall and be the face of the defensive line once those guys exhaust their eligibility.

4) Expectations haven’t changed on defense

Despite losing All-Big Ten players like T.J. Watt, Vince Biegel and Sojourn Shelton, along with Team MVP Leo Musso, the Wisconsin defense isn’t expecting any kind of drop off from what it accomplished last year, or for that matter, the last four seasons when the Badgers have become one of the elite units in the country.

“None of us are going to have that diminish on our watch,” senior linebacker Jack Cichy said of the defense’s almost unparalleled success in Wisconsin history. “I guess if you want to say it would tarnish our legacy, it would. But we don’t really think about it like that. We’re better than that. This program can’t have any fall off just because how far it has come. I just don’t think we as a defense would allow (it).”

Wisconsin came into the spring needing to find four new starters and it appears they have. Hawaii transfer Nick Nelson has stepped into Shelton’s cornerback spot, while senior Natrell Jamerson made the move from cornerback to safety and worked with the No. 1 unit all spring in the place occupied by Musso a year ago. Instead of Watt and Biegel at outside linebacker, it’s seniors Garrett Dooley and Leon Jacobs, both of whom had very good springs, while sophomore Zack Baun and junior college transfer Andrew Van Ginkel will see time as well.

As for other key spots, a battle for the third cornerback job will play itself out in fall camp with the favorites being redshirt freshman Dontye Carriere-Williams and senior Lubern Figaro. The Badgers also need to figure out how to best use their ridiculous depth at inside linebacker where Cichy and sophomore Chris Orr return from injuries to battle two-year starter T.J. Edwards and superb fill-in Ryan Connelly.

When everything is said and done, it’s possible that the 2017 defense could match or even surpass what the 2016 group did.

5) Just fine at running back

Wisconsin lost a lot of production with Corey Clement and Dare Ogunbowale moving on to the next phase of their careers, but it appears they won’t hurt for options to fill the void.

Sophomore Bradrick Shaw isn’t overly flashy, but his one cut and go style is perfect for the offense. Then you’ve got junior Chris James, who is a threat to score every time he touches the ball, and will be big in the passing game and on third down. Add in what the Badgers hope is a healthy Taiwan Deal this fall, along with incoming freshman Jonathan Taylor, and things are looking just fine in the backfield.

A somewhat informed guess at Wisconsin’s depth chart:

  First-team Second-team
OFFENSE
QB Alex Hornibrook (RS SO) Jack Coan (FR) OR Kare Lyles (RS FR)
RB Bradrick Shaw (RS SO) OR Chris James (JR) Taiwan Deal (JR)
FB Alec Ingold (JR) Austin Ramesh (SR)
WR Jazz Peavy (SR) A.J. Taylor (SO)
WR Quintez Cephus (SO) Kendric Pryor (SO) OR George Rushing (SR)
TE Troy Fumagalli (SR) Zander Neuville (JR)
TE Kyle Penniston (RS SO) Luke Benzschawel (RS FR)
LT David Edwards (RS SO) Cole Van Lanen (RS FR)
LG Jon Dietzen (RS SO) Micah Kapoi (JR)
C Michael Deiter (JR) Tyler Biadasz (RS FR)
RG Beau Benzschawel (JR) Micah Kapoi (JR)
RT Patrick Kasl (RS FR) OR Jake Maxwell (JR) David Moorman (RS SO)
 
DEFENSE
DE Chikwe Obasih (SR) OR Alec James (SR) Garrett Rand (SO)
NT Olive Sagapolu (JR) Billy Hirschfeld (JR)
DE Conor Sheehy (SR) Isaiahh Loudermilk (RS FR)
OLB Garrett Dooley (SR) Andrew Van Ginkel (JR)
ILB Jack Cichy (SR) Chris Orr (RS SO)
ILB T.J. Edwards (JR) Ryan Connelly (JR)
OLB Leon Jacobs (SR) Zack Baun (RS SO)
CB Derrick Tindal (SR) Lubern Figaro (SR)
S D’Cota Dixon (SR) Joe Ferguson (SR)
S Natrell Jamerson (SR) Patrick Johnson (SO)
CB Nick Nelson (JR) Dontye Carriere-Williams (RS FR)
     
Kicker Rafael Gaglianone (JR) Zach Hintze (RS SO)
Punter Anthony Lotti (SO) P.J. Rosowski (JR)

 

Final stats: