Ahhhh, Spring in Wisconsin. Tomorrow, it is going to be 60 degrees and this weekend it will snow. The Brewers don’t stink anymore and there’s enough time before the college football season to get a little crazy. So…
I mean, on the front end, let’s also think about the most recent sample size for Wisconsin Badgers football. In one of the biggest games in program history – and that’s not hyperbole either – behind the arm of Alex Hornibrook no less, Wisconsin won a road game in the 2017 Orange Bowl over the Miami Hurricanes.
Returning back to today, March 29, 2018, if Hornibrook can play as consistently as he did in the Orange Bowl, this Badgers’ team will be in the 2019 College Football Playoff sporting the best offense in program history.
Yes, that may be a bit irrational but It’s March. But if you lay-out what the 2018 incarnation of the Wisconsin Badgers will look like on offense…who knows. So, let’s go crazy.
Hornibrook The God
Hornibrook is entering his third season as a starter after a seesawing 2017-season. At times, he was efficient and inefficient. At times, he was straight-up bad. Hornibrook just happened to finish the season with his second-best game – remember BYU – in the team’s biggest game.
That performance has to be up there with the Ron Vander Kelen’s second half in the 1963 Rose Bowl as the best postseason performance by a Wisconsin quarterback. With the assumption that Hornibrook plays consistently well, he will be the reason why this offense will be historically good.
Heisman Trophy Candidate and a Whole Pack of Capable Backups
Behind that quarterback with raising expectations is a sophomore running back with expectations that may not be able to rise any higher.
After Jonathan Taylor’s true-freshman year of over 1,900 yards and finishing as a finalist for the Doak Walker and a semifinalist for both the Walter Camp and Maxwell awards, it’s almost assumed the NCAA freshman rushing record holder will do something more than spectacular in his sophomore campaign.
Local folks are far from the only ones drinking the Kool-Aid when it comes to Taylor. He is listed as the player with the second-best chances to win this year’s Heisman Trophy at 8-to-1.
The fun part for the Badgers is that when the star running back needs a break, Wisconsin has three more-than-capable substitutes. Junior Bradrick Shaw had close to 100 carries in his first two seasons with the Badgers. Redshirt senior Chris James just over 50 carries in his first season with the Cardinal and White last season.
And, remember Taiwan Deal? He was a 500-yard rusher back in 2015. He is now finally healthy after suffering through injury for the last couple of seasons.
So if you’re keeping score at home, the Badgers have a quarterback who will come into the 2018 season with an unmatched confidence level – possibly in himself and definitely with fans in him – an elite starting running back with three strong subordinates.
Look, Ma, Good Hands
Next up on the best offensive unit in school history is what looks to be the best wide receiving core in school history. This unit doesn’t have the best individual(s) in Wisconsin wide receiving history but this unit is undoubtedly the deepest in Badgers’ history.
The 2018 Badgers will have four legitimate targetable receivers. Think about that. Hornibrook can feel confident looking to Quintez Cephus, A.J. Taylor, Danny Davis and Kendric Pryor. He has that confidence because each of them proved to deserve it in their moments last season.
The Big Boys
So, you have an electric running game, a special receiving core and a confident quarterback beginning his third year as a starter… not a bad start. The 2018 Badgers will return the entirety of the offensive line that enabled all of the previously mentioned shenanigans. The Badgers return three All-Americans in Michael Deiter, David Edwards and Beau Benzschawel. Tyler Biadasz also started 14 games last year at center and was a freshman All-American. Wisconsin also returns Jon Dietzen who started 12 games last year. And, lastly, they have Micah Kapoi who has made 15 career starts over the past three seasons.
Quantity to Replace Quality at Tight End
The Badgers will surely miss the now-departed All-American tight end in Troy Fumagalli. He was an astounding receiver and a capable blocker. He is predicted to go on day three of this year’s NFL Draft.
But what the Badgers lose in one great player, they can attempt to fill with two players. Both Kyle Penniston and Zander Neuville have both shown good things. Penniston and Neuville both had touchdown catches last season and Neville has shown to be a strong blocker.
I’m not saying this offense can lead the Badgers to the Playoff and beyond. I’m not, not saying it either.