While the Wisconsin Badgers were able to win their third straight Big Ten title in 2012, but there is plenty of room for improvement as Gary Anderson takes over in Madison. With the competition in the Big Ten reaching new heights in 2013 for the Badgers’ reign as conference champions, Wisconsin has to find more production from its receiving corps in 2013.
Last year, Wisconsin suffered a major shortage of depth in their pass-catching threats. While they had one of the league’s best wide receivers in Jared Abbrederis, who finished the season with 49 catches for 837 yards and five touchdowns, and Jacob Pedersen, who won the Big Ten’s Kwalick-Clark Tight End of the Year award, no other Badgers pass-catcher caught more than 20 passes and Wisconsin finished last in the conference in passing and ranked No. 111 in the country.
Part of that was the tumultuous nature of the quarterback position last season. Three different quarterbacks started under center for the Badgers’ in 2012, which made creating any offensive rhythm in the passing game impossible. Anderson will have to settle on a quarterback quickly to give the Badgers’ offense some stability moving forward.
The other aspect hurting the passing game last season was the Badgers’ reliance on the running game, led by touchdown-king Montee Ball. Former head coach Bret Bielema built his offense on the legs of the running game, often at the expense of the passing game. With both Bielema and Ball moving on from Madison for next season, the door is opened for the passing game to step up next season and be a major factor in the Wisconsin attack.
To do that, however, the receivers must step up. Abbrederis and Pedersen will both be back, but Wisconsin will need others to step up next season. Will it be Jordan Frederick, who finished third on the team in receptions his freshman season? Maybe Kenzel Doe breaks out in his junior season after catching 16 passes last year? Perhaps incoming freshman Robert Wheelright will make an impact right away?
No matter who it is, the Wisconsin Badgers need someone to step up in 2013 to raise the passing game to the next level.