When the Badgers have the ball
The Badgers displayed a different attacking stance last week, with intense physical running underpinning the offense. Junior Chez Mellusi and rookie Braelon Allen could be the 1-2 punch again with junior Brady Schipper filling in the gaps after rookie Jalen Berger was fired from the squad and questionable junior Isaac Guerendo this week. If Guerendo can play, UW would be wise to put him in the flow of the game so he’s ready to contribute in the second half of the season.
Graham Mertz threw for 100 yards and had an interception last week, but came out of the trip to Champaign healthy. He got a number of assists that showed what he could be as a quarterback, and the Badgers need to put him in that rhythm for a full game.
Watch the UW’s offensive line to build a good performance against the Illini, especially early in the game when this unit was pushed forward with iso patterns and single blocks before entering the area and out. shoot blocks that created lanes later in the game.
With No.2 tight end Jack Eschenbach ruled out, second Clay Cundiff is expected to be on the line for more playing time. He has done well in limited opportunities so far, catching a touchdown against Michigan and an assist from 43 yards against Notre Dame.
When the army has the ball
The cloud that hangs over the Army’s offense and this game as a whole is the availability of quarterback Christian Anderson. He is the best weapon the army possesses in attack, his speed and agility being a necessity as a decider in his triple option attack. The Black Knights have a chance to move the ball with Anderson – they average 415 yards with him and had 279 last week without him.
Tyrell Robinson, a second-year running back, has 237 yards on 25 carries this season, and he’s often lined up as one of the Army’s flexible players, right off the line of scrimmage next to the tackle or from the near end. Junior Jakobi Buchanan (187 yards), who is 6 feet, 260 pounds, serves as a ram in the middle of the defense from his full back position, lined up behind the quarterback.
Robinson also leads the team when it comes to receiving, although that doesn’t mean much for a team attempting just over six assists per game.
Getting penetration will be crucial for the Badgers’ defensive line so they can create negative play, but that penetration needs to be controlled – coming too far and the Black Knights can use it against a defense. Look for the depth of the defensive line to use frequently – players like nose tackle Bryson Williams and winger James Thompson could see their roles expand this week.
Senior Collin Larsh could resume his kick-off specialist duties this week with questionable second student Jack Van Dyke. Larsh had a touchback and four of his kickoffs were just taken. Larsh is 7 of 9 this season after making a field goal to open the game against Illinois. His two misses were a block against Penn State and a 52-yard try against Notre Dame.
This week could be an opportunity for the Badgers to get some momentum out of their kicking return unit. The Army cleared a return kick touchdown against Connecticut and a 99-yard return kick touchdown against Ball State last week.
UW would be back at .500 for the first time since Week 2 with a win. UW hasn’t been 0.500 or less for its seventh game of the season since 2008.
Chez Mellusi and Braelon Allen last week became the first Badgers duo to run over 100 yards in the same game since 2018, when Jonathan Taylor and Taiwan Deal also did so against Illinois.
The Camp Randall crowd – 74,218 on average this season – will undoubtedly be the biggest the Black Knights have faced this season.