In two months, the Badgers are going to begin their preparation for the 2022 season. Fans are going to see a lot of new faces on both sides of the ball for the first time. The offense is no exception.
The Badgers offense performed way below expectations in 2021. They finished 88th in the country in total offense, 21st in rushing offense, and 120th in passing offense. The most significant problem they had this past season was turnovers. Wisconsin had the eighth-most turnovers in all of college football (23). A season like that is unacceptable if the Badgers want to play their brand of football. Had Wisconsin’s defense not been as great as it was, I think the bowl game streak would have ended.
Currently, Wisconsin will be losing six starters from last season (Josh Seltzner, Logan Bruss, Jake Ferguson, Danny Davis, Kendric Pryor, and John Chenal). A great amount of snaps and overall production needs to be replaced.
Despite recruiting and transfer portal activity still happening; it’s never too early to project what next season’s offense might look like.
Redshirt Junior Graham Mertz
Redshirt Senior Chase Wolf
Synopsis: I am not expecting this position group to change at all. That is unless the Badgers decide to get a quarterback from the transfer portal. If no transfer quarterback comes, then expect Graham Mertz under center in 2021 for better or worse.
Sophomore Braelon Allen
Senior Chez Mellusi
Synopsis: Braelon Allen is no doubt the undisputed starter in the Badgers backfield. After what he did this year, he has earned the job. Who Allen’s backfield mate will be is up for debate. Chez Mellusi was originally the starter before suffering a season-ending leg injury against Rutgers. How fast Mellusi can rehab and get back to full strength will largely impact if he makes the two-deep. I am just rooting for the best-case scenario with this one. If Mellusi isn’t ready, then expect either Julius Davis, Brady Schipper, or someone else to compete for that spot. Isaac Guerendo is also an option, but he was injured for most of last season and has yet to go through a year healthy.
Redshirt Sophomore Riley Nowakowski
Redshirt Freshman Jackson Acker
Synopsis: With John Chenal departing, this position is very much up for grabs. Odds are there will competition for the job in both the spring and the summer. Riley Nowakowski will more than likely have the most opportunity to win the job. He appeared in two games last year. He was also slated to fill in at fullback in the Las Vegas Bowl before Chenal showed up late. Nowakowski was originally recruited as a linebacker but making the switch doesn’t seem to be an issue. Jackson Acker also saw time last year appearing in two games and even scoring a touchdown. Both Nowakowski and Acker provide interesting angles for the job. This is a position that the Badgers must get right but that role is critical for the offense for both the passing and rushing attack.
Junior Chimere Dike
Redshirt Freshman Skyler Bell
Synopsis: Chimere Dike is expected to take the next step and become the Badgers’ number one receiver. In limited roles, Dike has flashed what he can do and will now have an opportunity to show more. Skyler Bell didn’t see the field until the Las Vegas Bowl when the Badgers were shorthanded. Bell made the most of the opportunity and caught a pass for 15 yards. I expect him to have an expanded role this season.
Redshirt Freshman Markus Allen
Redshirt Senior AJ Abbott
Synopsis: Markus Allen didn’t appear in a game until late in the fourth quarter against Rutgers. In that game, he managed to rush for four yards and caught two passes for 34 yards. His best moment so far was when he caught a 31-yard pass in the Las Vegas bowl. That catch set up the Badgers’ first touchdown of the game. Allen has the athletic ability to be something special and will be fun to watch this year.
Redshirt Senior Jack Eschenbach
Redshirt Junior Clay Cundiff
Synopsis: During the season, Badger tight ends aside from Jake Ferguson were banged up with various injuries. I expect there to be competition at the position in both the spring and the summer. Jack Eschenbach spent missed most of the season due to injury. Clay Cundiff showed promise before suffering a season-ending leg injury against Iowa. This is a position battle to watch when spring camp opens.
Redshirt Junior Logan Brown
Redshirt Freshman Nolan Rucci
Synopsis: It’s time to see what the Badgers really have in Logan Brown. The former five-star prospect has only appeared in 19 games and has yet to make a start. While injuries have played a part in his lack of starts, high expectations for him haven’t changed. Brown was one of the highest-rated tackles Wisconsin has ever recruited and I’m curious to see if he can live up to that. All eyes will be on Brown this season.
Redshirt Sophomore Tanor Bortolini
Redshirt Senior Michael Furtney
Synopsis: No changes are expected here as Tanor Bortolini has secured his spot for the near future. Due to injuries, Bortolini’s versatility was a blessing for the Badgers this season. Not only was he able to fill in but also play at a high level.
Redshirt Junior Joe Tippmann
Redshirt Senior Cormac Sampson
Synopsis: The biggest surprise last year for the offensive line was how well Joe Tippmann played. In camp, Tippmann supplanted incumbent starter Kayden Lyles and hasn’t looked back. This all happened despite him never playing the position. Despite Tippmann being unable to play in the Las Vegas Bowl, Cormac Sampson proved to be a capable fill-in. No changes are expected at this position.
Redshirt Sophomore Jack Nelson
Redshirt Sophomore Trey Wedig
Synopsis: No changes are expected at the right guard spot as Jack Nelson is returning. Nelson has the most experience out of everyone in the offensive line room as he’s played 769 career snaps.
Redshirt Senior Tyler Beach
Redshirt Freshman Riley Mahlman
Synopsis: It was welcoming news for the Badgers that Tyler Beach decided to use his COVID year and return. Having Beach return will allow the Badgers more time to develop a successor. Beach will also provide stability at the right tackle spot and give the offense a proven dependable blocker.