The Ahman Green Show: 10/5/18

Joe & Ebo are joined by Ahman Green from 7:30a to 8:00a every Friday to discuss the Green Bay Packers. He will be sharing his insight on the Green and Gold by helping breakdown games from the point of view of a former player.

 

Segment 1: Ahman breaks down last week’s Packers/Bills game. (0:00)

Segment 2: How spreading the ball out/rotating running backs makes the Packers better. (3:10)

Segment 3: Ahman gives his thoughts on Rodgers’ comments and Packers fans. (14:05)

Segment 4: RJ joins the show to help Ahman breakdown the Wisconsin/Nebraska game. (18:58)

Segment 5: The two help explain the Wisconsin/Nebraska rivalry. (21:26)

The Joe & Ebo Experience: Wisconsin Sports Heartbreak

The Guys Recap a Bad Weekend (0:00)

Callers Weigh In on the Packers Tie (10:35)

Badger Insider RJ Talks Badgers Game Plan (30:11)

RJ Stays to Compare This Badgers Team to Past Teams (36:41)

Tex Western Gives His Take on the Packers/Vikings Game (47:34)

Joe & Nelson Try to Pick the Best of the Weekend (57:15)

 

Jonathan Taylor takes home Big Ten honor

For the third time in his career Jonathan Taylor was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week on Monday.

Against New Mexico the sophomore had a career day as he rushed for a new career-high 253 yards and three scores on 33 carries in Wisconsin’s 45-14 victory over the Lobos. Taylor became the first player for Wisconsin to rush for 250 yards or more since Melvin Gordon accomplished the feat back in the 2015 Outback Bowl against Auburn.

As a team Wisconsin ran for 417 yards, setting a new high for the Paul Chryst era.

Taylor topped the 100-yard mark for the 12th time in his 16-game career with the Badgers. It was the sixth time he’s crossed 150 yards and the fourth time he has gone over 200 yards in a single game. The lone downside to Taylor’s season thus far is he’s fumbled twice, losing both of them.

For the season Taylor has 398 yards rushing and five touchdowns on 51 carries. Wisconsin takes on BYU in Week 3 this Saturday at Camp Randall. Kick off is set for 2:30 p.m. CT.

Badgers run wild, impose will on New Mexico

MADISON – There’s no secret what Wisconsin’s offensive plan of attack is on a weekly basis. The Badgers want to establish the running game at all costs. Wisconsin wants to punish its opponents and make them wish the game was over before it actually is.

“On offense you feel it over the course of the game, you keep chunking away, keep chunking away runs,” offensive lineman Michael Deiter said after Wisconsin’s 45-14 win over New Mexico on Saturday afternoon. “You hope defenses don’t want to do that for four quarters and you feel it. They just don’t hit as hard as they used to, they don’t seem as bought it the more you keep hitting them with runs.”

The Badgers followed that philosophy on Saturday. There’s no hiding the fact that they weren’t great in the first half. Offensively, Wisconsin got off to a slow start, having to settle for a field goal, punt, and lost fumble – we’ll get to that – on the first three drives of the game.

“I think it’s kind of a slow, methodical flip,” Deiter said. “Obviously you want to do that from the start, but if you have to do it over four quarters there’s nothing wrong with that.”

Once the second half rolled around, the Badgers became more and more difficult to stop on the ground as time went on.

On the first drive of the half quarterback Alex Hornibrook was intercepted on a ball that seemed to slip out of his hand. After that, the remaining five drives of the game ended in touchdowns for Wisconsin.

The Badgers ran for a total of 417 yards on the day, the most since Paul Chryst took over the program. Of those 417 yards, 253 of them belonged to Heisman Trophy candidate Jonathan Taylor. That mark set a new career-high for the sophomore, but his day wasn’t without a blemish.

Taylor fumbled for the 10th time in his career in just 16 games. Just like last week, he lost it. The biggest hole in his game is the fact that he’s been prone to losing the ball. He’s lost eight of the 10 fumbles that he’s had in his career.

To this point, the Badgers haven’t been harmed too badly by this problem. On Saturday, New Mexico took over deep inside Wisconsin territory, but safety Scott Nelson had his first career interception just three plays later. Once again, the Badgers came away unscathed from one of Taylor’s miscues.

At some point, this is a problem that could come back to bite Wisconsin. There’s no telling when – unlikely it does against an inferior opponent like New Mexico — but it will cost the Badgers. If there were to happen against Iowa, Michigan, or Penn State it very well could cost Wisconsin a victory, and even a spot in the college football playoffs.

“Our whole offensive room, our whole running back room, we’re all tied into each other, trusting each other,” fullback Alec Ingold said. I really don’t have any worries about JT fixing anything. He’s going to get us done for us and we trust him back there. We don’t have any second thoughts handing him the rock.”

Fumbles are going to happen, but Taylor needs to do his best to be able to limit them more than he has.

Outside of the fumble, though, he was fantastic. There was no stopping Taylor by the Lobos defense. He finished the day with three touchdown runs, a pair of them coming in the second half. That’s a sure sign of the defense being worn down.

“It’s super satisfying,” Deiter said of wearing down New Mexico. “It’s fun. When you feel them not giving the same effort that you were getting the first quarter, second quarter, it’s what you take pride in. You feel yourself almost playing harder than you were.”

“How do you respond?” Taylor said of what the coaching staff asks of him after a fumble. “The game won’t go your way the entire game. You’re going to face adversity, but the No. 1 thing is how you respond. Your teammates are going to need you. Everyone leans on one another so we all have to respond back from adversity.”

Taylor responded well after the adversity, there’s no doubting. The Badgers just need to hope there is more of their will imposed, and less adversity faced.

Badgers lose another defensive back

The secondary for Wisconsin thinned out once more on Wednesday morning.

After Dontye Carriere-Williams left the program last week prior to the season-opening game against Western Kentucky, safety Patrick Johnson has left as well.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal, Johnson’s decision to leave is his choice, and it is not a matter of being disciplined. He was injured and did not play in Wisconsin’s victory over Western Kentucky last week.

In his first two seasons with Wisconsin he played in 17 games, totaling three tackles. Johnson suffered an arm injury that ended his season after just four games in 2017, but played in 13 games for Wisconsin in 2016.

Wisconsin’s defense steps up in opener

MADISON – Ask around, the likeliest group to take a step back from the success of 2017 for Wisconsin certainly would be the defense, and it would be hard to make an argument otherwise.

Friday night at Camp Randall certainly didn’t look like Wisconsin has any plans of allowing that to be the case.

Wisconsin came into the season opener against Western Kentucky starting seven new players on defense, including four players seeing a collegiate field for the very first time. There have been question marks all offseason about how this group would fare when the season came around, and rightfully so.

They impressed.

Sure, the first test that this group had to face wasn’t the most difficult of the season, but there’s no doubting that Western Kentucky presented unique challenges for a unit featuring this much turnover. The fast pace offense featuring a great deal of pre-snap movement that Western Kentucky runs isn’t the easiest to handle.

Wisconsin has plenty of room to improve, no doubt, but this was a good start. It was a solid experience for guys getting their first taste of real game action like Faion Hicks, Caesar Williams, and Scott Nelson. Those three will be tested plenty this season as teams will attempt to gouge the Badgers through the air.

On Friday night Wisconsin was able to limit Western Kentucky to just 167 yards passing. Forty-eight of those yards came on a pass early in the second half that Nelson said was the result of a miscommunication that he took fault for as well.

Other than that play, it would be hard to find much fault with Nelson’s debut in a Wisconsin uniform. He flew around the field, leading the team in tackles with seven and breaking up two passes. Nelson probably should have intercepted one of the passes he broke up, and did narrowly miss out at an opportunity at a sack as well.

The missed opportunity to create a turnover for Nelson brought one of the more curious moments of the night. After the play was blown dead and the ball hit the ground Nelson kept running. He kept running and didn’t stop until he hit the end zone, which was approximately 40 yards away from where the play ended.

“I really don’t know, whenever I don’t make a play I just end up running,” Nelson said. “Hopefully you don’t see that too much more. A couple people asked me about that when I came off the field. When I’m out there, I don’t know what I’m thinking.”

Despite the unnecessary extra yardage on his legs, the young safety has plenty to be happy about.

“I think it was good. There’s definitely a lot that we can tighten up,” Nelson said. “Personally, there’s definitely a lot that I can tighten up. Lot of tackling, catching the ball, communication stuff. But it was good, we got our feet wet, we’re in, and we’ll only get better from here.”

Aside from Nelson’s impressive debut, Hicks added an interception in the red zone for the Badgers in his debut. Wisconsin’s secondary had a part in each of the Badgers’ two turnovers, as Eric Burrell was credited with a forced fumble – again in the red zone – that was recovered by linebacker Chris Orr.

The thing that most resembled the 2017 Wisconsin defense on Friday night was the ability to stand up in the red zone defensively. So many times last season the Badgers would be faced with a sudden-change situation leaving them in a difficult position.

They experienced one against Western Kentucky following a Jonathan Taylor fumble in the third quarter. Western Kentucky took over inside the red zone, gained four yards, and failed to convert on fourth down.

The names and faces may have changed, but the result looked just like last year for Wisconsin. Tougher tests lie ahead, and time will tell whether or not this defense will be quite as good, but Friday was a promising start.

Wisconsin vs. Western Kentucky: Three keys

The Wisconsin Badgers open up the 2018 season with a matchup against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at Camp Randall on Aug. 31. The Badgers enter the game as heavy favorites and should have no issue finding their way to a win over the mid-major opponent.

Here are three things to watch as the Badgers look to move to 1-0 on the season.

Depth at wide receiver

The wide receiver group looked like one of the strongest on the team during fall camp. Things certainly have changed since then as both Danny Davis and Quintez Cephus are currently suspended. Cephus is out indefinitely while Davis is sidelined for two games.

There’s still experience and talent that will be on the field, just not as much as there could have been.

A.J. Taylor and Kendric Pryor both have plenty of time on the field for the Badgers, although there isn’t much behind them in terms of experience. Jack Dunn and Adam Krumholz were listed as the third and fourth receivers behind Taylor and Pryor on Wisconsin’s two-deep that was released earlier this week. Those two both saw limited action in 2017, mostly on special teams for Wisconsin. Both are local products that came to Wisconsin as walk-ons in 2016.

After those two, the Badgers will likely be giving playing time to a pair of true freshmen in Aron Cruickshank and Taj Mustapha. Both Cruickshank and Mustapha were early enrollees that impressed in the spring, but limited knowledge of Wisconsin’s playbook could be as to why Dunn and Krumholz will see the field first.

New defensive starters standing out

It was no secret that Wisconsin had an elite defense last year. The Badgers finished among the top five in the country in several categories and were able to learn upon their defense in a couple of less than stellar offensive performances.

That may not be the case this season. Wisconsin is tasked with having to replace seven starters on the defensive side of the ball, including a majority of the secondary and defensive line. The Western Kentucky offense won’t be the most difficult challenge of the season for this group, but it won’t be a walk in the park for a group that hasn’t played much football yet, either.

The defensive line would have been in much better shape had Garrett Rand not suffered an offseason injury that has him out for the season. In addition to that Isaiahh Loudermilk will miss some time after undergoing an offseason surgery as well. Olive Sagapolu returns at the nose with freshman Bryson Williams backing him up.

The defensive end spot is where things can appear questionable for the Badgers. Walk-on Matt Henningsen is starting on one side, while Kayden Lyles, a converted offensive lineman, is starting on the other. That’s something that could prove worrisome for Wisconsin this year.

On the bright side, the depth at the inside linebacker position is sound. T.J. Edwards spurned the 2018 NFL Draft to come back to school, Ryan Connelly returns, as does Chris Orr. All three of those guys have quite a bit of experience to lead the way defensively.

In the defensive backfield the Badgers are tasked with replacing Derrick Tindal, Natrell Jamerson, and Nick Nelson. To make things a little bit tougher, Dontye Carriere-Williams announced that he had been granted his release on Wednesday night and is no longer with the program.

Carriere-Williams entered the spring as a starter at corner, and did make a handful of starts in 2017, but slipped to the second team due to lack of consistency. Caesar Williams and Faion Hicks are listed as the starters at corner as of now, with Madison Cone remaining on the two-deep. Deron Harrell will likely be the next man up at that spot. He had a strong camp after transitioning from the wide receiver position during the offseason and Donte Burton is a true freshman that will likely see the field as well.

The safety spots probably have the most clarity among the newcomers, as Scott Nelson is stepping into a starting role after a very strong camp and D’Cota Dixon returns for his final year of eligibility.

Protecting the football

The biggest flaw in quarterback Alex Hornibrook’s game last year was the fact that he tossed 15 interceptions, including at least one in every conference game. Wisconsin was able to overcome that with strong defense and an excellent running game. Good teams find ways to win no matter what the circumstances are, but Wisconsin may not have that type of luxury this season.

In the Orange Bowl Hornibrook was fantastic as he threw for 258 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions on his way to being named MVP. It’s unrealistic to expect Hornibrook to repeat that performance on a weekly basis. If he somehow did then he would be in New York raising the Heisman Trophy this coming December. But if he can consistently cut out the turnovers that plagued him last season then the Wisconsin offense will be in a much, much better place.

It’s far more likely that running back Jonathan Taylor finds himself at the Heisman Trophy ceremony in New York in December, but one thing that could be a hindrance to not only that campaign, but the Wisconsin offense is his propensity to put the ball on the ground.

In 2017 Taylor fumbled eight times and lost six of them. Again, in more than one of those instances he was bailed out by the terrific defense, but that may not happen now.

For Taylor to further his game and reach his potential at Wisconsin it’s imperative that he hangs on to the football on a regular basis.

Hornibrook and Taylor are two of the most important players on what should be an incredibly explosive offense for Wisconsin. Limiting the turnovers will make them that much better.