The Wisconsin Badgers ranked 10th in the Big Ten and 114th out of 128 FBS schools in defensive takeaways last season. Despite that fact, they still managed to win eleven games.
Getting more takeaways has been a big emphasis for defensive coordinator Dave Aranda and his players all offseason.
The Badgers secondary intercepted just four passes last season and the team had just six overall, which is better than only six FBS teams. The goal is to get more hands on footballs and then hang on to the ball when the first part of the goal is accomplished.
More interceptions and takeaways for the defense means better field position for Joel Stave and the Wisconsin offense to work with. It’s no secret that turnovers generally lead to more points.
Last season, the Badgers forced a total of 17 turnovers. We’ll see tonight, when the Badgers open their season against 3rd-ranked Alabama, if all of the emphasis and work during the offseason has paid off.
Lack of Takeaways isn’t the only issue for the Badgers. In fact, going into the season opener tonight, it pales in comparison to Wisconsin’s banged up offensive line.
Injuries during fall training camp has forced offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph to shuffle the deck repeatedly, trying to find the five best players to line up against the Crimson Tide.
Center Dan Voltz (20 starts) and left tackle Tyler Marz (27 starts) are the only two offensive line starters that have started a college football game previously. It is precisely what makes this season opening game against Alabama most difficult for the Badgers.
Alabama’s defensive front seven is one of the best, if not the best, front seven’s in all of college football. The Badgers didn’t even settle on their number-1 offensive line until this week. That spells trouble for Bucky and it makes the Badgers the underdog that they are.
This is just the second all-time meeting between the two schools. The Badgers won the only contest played back in 1928, 15-0.
Paul Chryst makes his Badger head coaching debut tonight. He is 19-19 as a head coach in Pittsburgh.
Alabama coach Nick Saban is 4-1 against the Big Ten. His only loss came to Ohio State, last season (42-35) in the College Football Playoff semifinals.