Breakdown: Wisconsin’s offense

By Tony Osborne

Through two weeks of play, Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson has taken the Big Ten by storm. The North Carolina State transfer has lead Wisconsin to a 2-0 record with his versatile play. This versatility comes into play with his ability to throw the ball accurately and run very well if he needs to. “From watching film, he puts the ball right on the money and makes the right decisions on the field,” said NIU cornerback Dominique Ware. Wilson has yet to throw an interception this year, which should make that NIU secondary hungry for some picks.

Quarterback: A

With Wisconsin ranked No. 7 in the FBS standings, it is evident the team is sound in all offensive categories. It’s running game features a couple of different backs, but all of them are capable of providing a change of tempo. “Montee Ball is playing as well as I’ve ever seen him play,” said NIU head coach Dave Doeren. In two games, Ball has accumulated 181 yards on the ground and five touchdowns. Taking out the running game will help the Huskies, because Ball is a tough red zone running back to go against. James White adds a smaller, quicker asset to the Badgers running game. White was named co-offensive player of the week by Wisconsin after posting 64 yards and a touchdown against University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Running backs: A-

The receiving core for the Badgers as a whole is strong, quick and a solid downfield blocking unit. Badgers senior Nick Toon has been a stand-out early in 2011. The 6’3”, 220-pound senior has nine catches for 123 yards in the 2011 season. The key to the Wisconsin receivers will be if they can get the blocks necessary to help Wilson with his scrambling out of the pocket. Another Badger receiver to watch out for is Jacob Pedersen, who has hauled in three touchdown passes through two games.

Wide Receivers: B

The Badgers offensive line is built with “farm boys.” The lowest measurements of Wisconsin’s offensive line are 6’4” and 315 pounds. Wisconsin’s most physically intimidating lineman could very well be offensive tackle Robert Burge, who is listed at 6’7” and 325 pounds.

Guard Casey Dehn is another whopper for the NIU defensive line to worry about at 6’6” and 335 pounds, and is reportedly nimble on his feet. The NIU defensive line will need to be sure they are not getting pushed back off the line of scrimmage, opening a dominating running game. Penetration with the offensive line will make Wilson make decisions under pressure, which is better than sitting in the pocket with all day to throw the ball.

Offensive Line: A-