After two weeks of winning football, the Wisconsin defense has experienced some notable highs, and some scathing lows. On the positive side, Wisconsin has held opponents to an average of 12 points per game, being especially effective in containing the run game. Wisconsin opponents have limited opponents to 85 and 106 total rushing yards in their first two games, as well as allowing a meager 276 yards per game. Linebackers have been a high note, notably Chris Orr, T.J. Edwards, and Leon Jacobs, who rank one, two, and three in total tackles. Shouldering more of a disruptive load, Edwards and Jacobs have recorded three and four tackles for loss respectively, good for team highs.
The secondary undoubtedly needs the most improvement. Consistent miscommunications have resulted in high yardage pass plays against both opponents, and that pattern must cease moving forward on the cusp of the Big Ten schedule.
Overall, the defense has to squash its low-energy play in the opening half. In both games thus far, against weak opponents, the Badger’s have headed to the half with worries over their control of the game. Moving forward, Wisconsin can’t afford to wait to turn it on late, and the brunt of that responsibility is on the defense to limit opponent scores.
Coming up this weekend, Wisconsin will face a 1-2 BYU offense who’ve struggled to put up points. Versus LSU, the Cougars put up a goose egg, and last week versus Utah, they managed to eke out 13 in a loss. What’s more, starting quarterback Tanner Mangum injured his ankle during BYU’s final play against Utah this past week and his status is questionable for Saturday’s matchup. Even if Mangum is healthy, he’s endured a shaky season, passing for an unsightly 466 yards on a 54.4% completion percentage, including four interceptions. At backup is redshirt sophomore Beau Hoge who’s only completed 10 passes in his entire career, and none since the 2015 season. Overall, the advantage swings towards Wisconsin.
The BYU rushing game is nothing to get worked up over either, with their leading rusher, Squally Canada, totaled only 109 yards over three games, 98 of which he racked up in BYU’s season opener versus Portland State.
In essence, Saturday’s game should be an opportunity for the Wisconsin defense to work out any kinks they’ve pinpointed in their first two weeks. The Wisconsin defense has reported no new injuries to the defense since last week. Coming out of the locker room with energy will be key, but playing their same brand of intelligent football will get them the win.