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Pre-season game preview: Wisconsin

September 23


Offensive Starters Returning: 3 (QB, OT, OG)

Defensive Starters Returning: 8 (2DE, DT, LB, 2CB, FS, SS)

Specialists Returning: 2 (P,K)

Offense: This unit was good last year, but other than two key players (and one other random dude), nobody is back. Quarterback John Stocco, who suffers from reverse-Brady Quinn syndrome (read: is severely underrated) is back, and should be the biggest contributor on offense. However, who will he throw to? Wisconsin didn't have any outstanding receivers last year, and there's reason this year's crop wasn't starting over them. The Badgers also lose the man who was their MVP by a country mile, RB Brian Calhoun (I think he deserves to at least be mentioned as last years Big 10 Player of the Year). Wisconsin is a school that never is short on running backs, but the replacement definitely won't be as good. Other than Stocco, the only proven talent on the offense is OT Joe Thomas, who is great. The rest of the line, however, probably won't be. If Thomas is healthy after blowing out his knee in the bowl game, expect our Des to not be flattening Stocco as often as we'd like.

Defense: If defensive end Matt Shaugnessy and Jamal Cooper are healthy, this should be a decent line for the Badgers. They should be good but not exceptional at stopping the run. Two linebackers graduate, and the talent behind them isn't that deep. All four secondary players return, but that may not necessarily be a good thing. While the safeties are fairly good, the corners simply don't have the athletic talent to play with our Wrs, and the only thing keeping them from falling on their faces last year was Coach Ron Lee (now Michigan's CB coach). They can still create turnovers, so the passing should be good, but if Henne is having a bad accuracy day, that could spell trouble.

Special Teams: Brian Calhoun was great in the rturn game last year, but there should be capable replacements.

Other: This, like too many other games this year, will be revenge time for Michigan. will probably be down after graduating so many players and losing coach Barry Alvarez to retirement. However, Bret Bielema will be an unknown commodity. This game is between San Diego State and Indiana for the Badgers, which is a little easier than our Notre Dame-Minnesota sandwich.

Conclusion: I see this as a should-be win, but most of our games were like that last year as well (and we all know how that turned out). The home crowd (or lack of a Wisconsin home crowd), should propel Michigan to victory.

“Pre-season game preview: Wisconsin”