DB Roderick Rogers (PHOTO CREDIT: Wisconsin Athletic Communications)

2005 Statistics

Coach: Bret Bielema
1st year
2005 Record: 10-3
at North Carolina WON 14-5
at Northwestern LOST 48-51
at Minnesota WON 38-34
at Illinois WON 41-24
at Penn State LOST 14-35
at Hawai'i WON 41-24
vs. Auburn WON 24-10

2005 Final Rankings
AP-15, Coaches-15, BCS-18

2006 Outlook

New hire Bret Bielema is truly under the microscope – he is the youngest head coach in Division I football and is replacing one of the most respected ever and it is all at a/this proven storied program. With all skill position losses he endures, you would have to expect this defensive specialist (former DC under Alvarez) to be focusing on rebuilding. But with a proven starting QB and eight returning starters on defense, the Badgers should come out swinging with the goal of making a BCS bowl their aim.

Realistically, the Badgers will struggle with a lack of experience on the offensive side of the ball. But a technician and leader like Stocco should be able to keep his (and the team’s collective) cool while bringing each facet of their ball-moving machine to bear. The play-calling with a new line will be the main pivot so that the incremental progress needed can occur. The WRs are one of the best unknown bunches in I-A, and with UW’s usual size-speed packages at RB, opponents cannot underestimate just how much impact the offense can bring.

But things still look uncertain since three important cogs (DLmen Cooper, Shaughnessy and LT Thomas) are attempting to return from ACL surgery. Bielema insists all three players are on schedule to be cleared for summer workouts, but it remains to be seen if they can return and play at a high level. In the Big Ten, each/all is/are needed to secure the Badger’s overall chances of competing at the highest level(s).

Wisconsin will start to develop the kind of players that can turn a game in the blink of an eye. There will be mistakes early that should slowly take care of themselves as the season moves on. But with early games at Bowling Green and Ann Arbor, how long it all takes to click properly will differentiate between a major showing and just a respectable one.

Though somewhat challenging, their slate is broken up nicely so that only the Penn State and (at) Iowa games toward the end constitute two tough games in a row. Otherwise, this team can be competitive weekly without needing to have huge momentum just to get through rough patches – perfect for a new, young coach, two new defensive coordinators and a team needing confidence. They probably won’t be anything close to BCS-quality, but they will build a strong team that will make the top 25 by season’s end. (Now) AD Alvarez and the fans shouldn’t be disappointed at all with what will be the new-look Wisconsin Badgers.

Projected 2006 record: 8-4
QB - 4 DL - 4
RB - 3 LB - 2.5
WR - 2.5 DB - 3.5
OL - 3 ..

Passing: John Stocco, 328-197-9, 2920 yds., 21 TD

Rushing: Jamil Walker, 18 att., 96 yds., 1 TD

Receiving: Marcus Randle El, 1 rec., 29 yds., 1 TD

Scoring: Taylor Mehlhaff, 14-20 FG, 56-58 PAT, 98 pts.

Punting: Ken DeBauche, 57 punts, 44.8 avg.

Kicking: Taylor Mehlhaff, 14-20 FG, 56-58 PAT, 98 pts.

Tackles: Joe Stellmacher, 90 tot., 48 solo

Sacks: Nick Hayden, 5.5 sacks

Interceptions: Roderick Rogers, 3 for 94 yds., 1 TD; Jack Ikegwuonu, 3 for 53 yds., 1 TD

Kickoff Returns: Zach Hampton, 10 ret., 17.0 avg., 0 TD

Punt Returns: Marcus Randle El, 3 ret., 15.7 avg., 0 TD


P Ken DeBauche (PHOTO CREDIT: Wisconsin Athletic Communications)
OFFENSE: Matt Bernstein-FB, Jonathan Orr-WR, Brandon Williams-WR, Jason Pociask-TE, Owen Daniels-TE, Matt Lawrence-OG, Donovan Raiola-C, Jason Palermo-OG, RB Booker Stanley (dismissed), Brian Calhoun-RB (NFL)
DEFENSE: LaMarr Watkins-SLB, Dontez Sanders-WLB, Brett Bell-CB, Levonne Rowan-CB

The quarterback spot is in good hands with the return of senior anchor John Stocco, who is coming off a great season. Stocco has excellent command of the offense, though, just an average arm for the big time college game. He has (shown) the moxy to make key throws in big situations, but has marginally struggled in the past when the running game wasn't clicking on all cylinders. Still, a 21:9 TD:INT ratio tells you how far he slips, and that’s not much. For having decent speed (4.6 in the 40), Stocco needs to avoid being sacked so much (37 in ’05). Junior Tyler Donovan will be Stocco's top backup. AP’s in-state Player of the Year as a prep senior, Donovan is more of a threat (so far) running the ball than throwing it, and he should be relied upon as a nice situational option at times. Donovan does have a decent arm but doesn't seem to have confidence in his decision-making ability until he gets more reps, which he should get seeing how he is their option here next year.

Running Back
Obviously, the biggest individual loss Wisconsin must overcome is at tailback. The heir apparent, Booker Stanley, is also gone thanks to legal issues. This leaves Jamil Walker and redshirt freshmen P.J. Hill, Dion Foster and Jerry Butler fighting for the job. Walker and senior hulkster Dywon Rowan have experience, whereas the others have promise. Walker is the most talented option. This well-sized junior has the speed and elusiveness to be a difference maker. Hill appeared ready to take the No. 2 job last season until a broken leg scuttled that. When healthy, Hill, another prototypically big UW back, is the most complete runner on the team and will take it up the middle or bounce it outside. Butler is the only scat-type, and this former sprinter will likely see reps due to his change of pace (third-down back?). True freshman Lance Smith may be the next top-tier back on the horizon in Madison. Smith is a home-run hitter with great speed and natural vision. This area is too stacked not to succeed, or at least be leaned upon to keep defenses honest.

Two big departures mean openings are up for grabs. The top returning wide receivers are Marcus Randle El, Jarvis Minton, Paul Hubbard and Jarmal Ruffin, though that quintet combined for just three catches last season. Obviously, Randle El has the bloodlines - Marcus is looking to break out and the ex-QB can throw pretty well (out of an end around, lateral or sneaky direct snap), so defenses cannot miss his multi-dimensions. Minton, a pure athlete, too, has better size to be an effective slot option and possession receiver. Hubbard may be the fastest player on the team. A prep all-American in track (long jump, triple jump champ at 2003 Junior Olympics) with 6-foot-4 size, Hubbard is a true home run threat. Freshman Lance Kendricks is another 6-foot-4 ex-track star turned receiver and was one of the top recruits in the country. Stucco has a plethora of quality targets, and he will make a few into household names there in Madison. This might be the best group no one has heard of…yet.

Tight End
In need of tight ends, the staff has moved Travis Beckum and Andy Crooks to the position. At just 215 pounds, Beckum is undersized but the team hopes he will be a threat down the seam. The ex-LB also can take DEs out of running plays. At 264 pounds, Crooks will be a blocker, though he has offensive experience (RB) as a prepster and the speed needed. Garrett Graham and incoming freshman Mickey Turner – both real TEs - look like they are projects in the making, but should still see reps.

Offensive Line
This area regroups and is the weakest link offensively until they prove otherwise in this tough conference. Kraig Urbik started all 13 games at right tackle last season as a redshirt freshman. This year, he will be the only Badger linemen with any significant starting experience unless Joe Thomas, a two-year starter at left tackle, can come back from a bad knee injury. Urbik is a hard-working overachiever with a nasty streak and he plays to the whistle (excels as a run blocker). If healthy, the 6-8, 303-pound Thomas (second-team all-American, NationalChamps.net) is a solid pass protector and powerful drive blocker. Redshirt sophomore Marcus Coleman, who started one game at left guard in 2005, opens at center. The 320-pound ex-wrestler is quicker than most his size. Andy Kemp, who saw reserve duty at left guard in 2005, has been switched to right guard. Kemp is a future star and the staff feels he could be the team's best lineman. The 6-8, 329-pound Danny Kaye, a back-up right tackle last season, has danced over to left guard. Kaye has the frame to keep adding weight and the Badgers think he will develop into a ferocious drive blocker with a little seasoning. Ostensibly, the unit just has to gel to become formidable, and how long that takes will dictate much as to how far the entire team goes.

Stocco is as reliable as they come, but Wisconsin must replace a ton of talent across the board so his senior campaign isn’t a struggle. The real key is at running back. As always in Madison, someone will step up and develop into a big-time feature back, or else Stocco becomes very ordinary without a ground dimension. The backs are big and fast, so someone will emerge from nowhere in traditional Badger fashion. The receiving corps has a ton of speedy guys who will each become needed role players as Stocco and the coaches figure out who’s who. The line lost some key parts, too, but few doubt the players who are ready to step in. It is all just uncertain until proven, so the range of where this offense could rank in the given categories will dictate much under new coach Bret Bielema. Luckily, coordinator Paul Chryst isn’t new (but still isn’t a proven commodity in his 2nd year, either), but he knows how to get the most out of his guys (set team scoring record in ’05). Expect the usual conservative approach until the WRs are established, which shouldn’t take long.


OT Joe Thomas (PHOTO CREDIT: Wisconsin Athletic Communications)


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB John Stocco-Sr (6-2, 206) Tyler Donovan-Jr (6-1, 190)
FB Chris Pressley-Jr (6-1, 268) Bill Rentmeester-So (6-0, 254)
TB P.J. Hill-Fr (5-11, 235) Dywon Rowan-Sr (5-9, 243)
Jamil Walker-Jr (6-2, 221)
WR Jarvis Minton-Jr (6-1, 202) Luke Swan-Jr (6-0, 200)
WR Paul Hubbard-Jr (6-4, 218) Marcus Randle El-Jr (5-10, 191)
TE Andy Crooks-Jr (6-3, 264) Sean Lewis-So (6-7, 245)
OT Joe Thomas-Sr (6-8, 306) Danny Kaye-Jr (6-8, 317)
OG Andy Kemp-So (6-6, 321) Jeff Stehle-Fr (6-6, 299)
C Marcus Coleman-Jr (6-6, 314) Luke Knauf-Jr (6-4, 314)
OG Kraig Urbik-So (6-6, 321) Andrew Weininger-Jr (6-6, 314)
OT Eric Vanden Heuvel-So (6-7, 326) Mike Van Someren-Jr (6-6, 314)
K Taylor Mehlhaff-Jr (5-11, 185) ..



Defensive Line
The defense is clearly the strength of this football team and it all starts up front. The undersized, speedy Jamal Cooper will line up at one end spot. An elite pass rusher, Cooper also holds up well versus the run despite weighing just 215 pounds. At the other end will be 6-foot-6 Matt Shaughnessy, who developed into one of the top young defensive linemen in the country as a freshman last year. Shaughnessy has the frame and speed to give offensive tackles fits. Inside, the Badgers have a great rotation. Jason Chapman is big enough to play inside and the footwork/speed to also take snaps outside. Also inside is Nick Hayden, the team’s fourth-leading tackler in ‘05. The 315-pounder is a large, fast athletic lineman who blows up plays with consistency. The overachieving Joe Monty is also back in a situational role. This senior makes plays on pure hustle. Junior Justin Ostrowski may be the team's top natural run stuffer but is really just a two-down player. Freshman Brandon Hoey is a prototypical base end and will be a star. Look for this unit to help UW lower its 79th ranking for run stopping by a good margin.

UW is looking for two new starters in the linebacking corps. Senior Mark Zalewski is the only holdover but he is capable of moving from the middle to the outside depending on who steps up (switched to the middle in ‘05 to get on the field). Proved via his 12.5 tackles-for-loss last campaign (team leader), Zalewski is a solid, tough, natural run stuffer and will be the spiritual focus of the D. Sophomore Jonathan Casillas is expected to push for the strong side job. He did a nice job late last year and proved capable of playing over the tight end as a fifth lineman and/or in coverage(s). Classmate DeAndre Levy is in line to take over the weak side spot. Levy really excels when he can run and chase, but if he gets caught up in the trash, the Milwaukee-native is not nearly as effective. The wild card in this scenario is Elijah Hodge. A bit small for I-A line play when he arrived, Hodge is a talented, natural middle linebacker who has bulked up nicely while keeping his 4.5 speed. Zalewski will move outside to get Hodge on the field if need be, but a rotation won’t hurt for keeping all with fresher legs. Size issues across the corps make run-stopping something that will be on opposing OC’s minds that they can possibly exploit, but coverage underneath shouldn’t be any problem.

Defensive Back
The Badgers have two great safeties in Joe Stellmacher and Roderick Rogers. Stellmacher is a natural strong safety who is a team leader. He is excellent in run support, though you can expose Stellmacher in man-to-man coverage. At free safety, Rogers has turned into one of the Big 10's best and is a real ball hawk. As good as these senior safeties are, the best player in the secondary might just be cornerback Jack Ikegwuonu. A real playmaker, Ikegwuonu is still young (sophomore), but is the type of shut down corner defensive coordinators dream about. Opposite Ikegwuonu will be classmate Allen Langford. Langford has decent speed and good hips and will likely be picked on consistently as the seemingly marginal link of a very solid secondary. Still, Langford will thrive in so much action as he can make (big) plays as they present themselves – he did so in ’05 as their primary nickel guy too often. Zach Hampton and Johnny White are seniors who give the safety slots depth, but finding backups at CB has to happen for possible injuries there not to affect the overall quality of the D. This unit knows how to bend and not break, but needs to keep the play in front of them more – the 25 TDs given up through the air in ’05 was too many for how good these guys can be.

New co-coordinators Dave Doeren and Mike Hankwitz – along with former coordinator Bielema - should ratchet these guys up a few notches with optimal results. With eight starters returning, this is clearly an area that has to improve in its overall impact (92nd ranking for total defense). This group has the talent to be one of the country’s/Big Ten’s top Ds and carry Wisconsin through their tougher battles, but it won’t happen by excelling one play and then giving up too much the next, their profile in 2005. All needed elements are there on the defensive line and the secondary, and the LBs will reach their potential if they can overcome size issues to become solid run-stuffers. Hard lessons learned have to translate better into a consistent group effort. The safeties and Zalewski have the deep middle covered well, so the corners only have to handle the outsides with these speedy OLBs to become one of the nation’s best pass defenses. Injuries to their CBs could also affect how tight this 11 can become.


DT Nick Hayden (PHOTO CREDIT: Wisconsin Athletic Communications)


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Joe Monty-Sr (6-2, 258) Kurt Ware-Jr (6-4, 279)
DT Jason Chapman-So (6-4, 283) Justin Ostrowski-Jr (6-5, 308)
DT Nick Hayden-Jr (6-5, 310) Mike Newkirk-So (6-3, 251)
DE Jamal Cooper-Jr (6-4, 206) Matt Shaughnessy-So (6-6, 227)
SLB DeAndre Levy-So (6-3, 215) O'Brien Schofield-Fr (6-3, 234)
MLB Mark Zalewski-Sr (6-2, 236) Elijah Hodge-Fr (6-1, 220)
WLB Jonathan Casillas-So (6-2, 208) Ryan Flasch-So (6-1, 221)
CB Jack Ikegwuonu-So (6-1, 199) Ben Strickland-Jr (5-9, 176)
CB Allen Langford-So (5-11, 188) Zach Hampton-Sr (5-10, 171)
SS Joe Stellmacher-Sr (6-1, 222) Johnny White-Sr (6-2, 223)
FS Roderick Rogers-Sr (6-2, 186) Shane Carter-So (6-2, 199)
P Ken DeBauche-Jr (6-2, 221) ..




Kicker Taylor Mehlhaff has a decent leg from inside the 50, but it is unproven from beyond. His leg remains a huge weapon on kickoffs, and it’s almost impossible for foes to count on a solid return game when he gets about half of his KOs into the endzone. Coverage of his returnable KOs will continue to be strong.

Ken DeBauche is one of the country's best punters. An excellent directional kicker with a solid leg (8th nationally with a 44.8 yard average distance), this second team All-American (NationalChamps.net) is one of the few punters that displays both strengths. Like Mehlhaff, he’ll continue to make foes’ returns a dicey proposition (UW was 12th in net punting).

Return Game
Randle El is a potential superstar on punt returns. He's got the elusiveness to make guys miss and the first step to go with excellent vision of the whole field, both of which allow him to explode up the field. Reserve free safety Zach Hampton is a solid but unspectacular kick returner who could easily be displaced if one of the youngsters can prove worthy.