Two-depth offensive entering the fall camp
Fall camp is underway and the Wisconsin football team’s offense is bringing back a great experience coupled with heightened expectations for the coming season. Many, myself included, choose Wisconsin as the frontrunner to win the Big Ten West.
Paul Chryst and company open the camp in good health, and with more answers than questions on the offensive side of the ball. The belief is that the offense for the Wisconsin football team will become more dynamic with Mertz having a year as a QB1 under his belt and all his weapons at his disposal.
With so many spots already announced, the opportunity to make an impact will be hard to come by for some of the young players. However, the team is not without young talents who demand additional reps. It’ll be interesting to see how things play out, so today we take a look at where the Two Depths come into camp.
1. Graham Mertz (RS) So.
2. Chase Wolf (RS) Jr.
Graham Mertz is cut off as a starter and appears to be back in full health. Many around the program have praised his enhanced leadership skills and his knowledge of the game manual. All of this is very encouraging given the immense amount of talent he possesses. If he takes another step forward in his development, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Mertz make his way to an All-Big Ten list by the end of the season.
Chase Wolf saw the pitch sparingly and even had a few packages written just for him at the end of last season. I think the team is incredibly lucky to have a player like Wolf backing up. Chase Wolf is an above average QB2 and would be good enough to start in many programs across the country. If anything were to happen to Mertz during the season, I don’t think the Wisconsin football team will be dead in the water.
To come back
1. Jalen Berger (RS Fr.)
2. Chez Melusi (Jr.) or Isaac Guerendo (RS Jr.)
Jalen Berger is the lead dog and an obvious candidate for badgers. Berger was a high-profile rookie who got his feet wet a season ago, never eclipsing all 15 races. I expect that to change drastically this season and become a focal point of this attack. I would expect over 1,000 rushing yards with the potential for even more.
Chez Mellusi has transferred from Clemson and is expected to be part of the mix as well. Mellusi wouldn’t have left Clemson if he hadn’t been assured that he would have a role from day one. Mellusi was an All-American McDonalds and has great speed. I expect Mellusi to get a lot of work and be a great compliment to Berger in a new look backfield. This is a real return to threesome.
It’s do or die time for Isaac Guerrendo. Guerrendo has been hampered by injury at this point in his career, but the coaching staff are highly placed on his abilities. If he’s healthy, I absolutely expect him to figure in the running back’s spin because of his revolutionary speed. However, if injuries cause him to run out of time, coach Chryst has no shortage of options behind him as he waits for their chance.
1. John Chenal (Sr.)
2. Quan Easterling (RS So.)
John Chenal is an animal and will take on the main full back role this season. Chenal is a good blocker and will be a huge asset in short distance situations. Easterling is a full back who has great versatility for the job. It will be fun to follow his progress throughout the season because we all know Coach Chryst is going to be playing two full-backs.
1. Danny Davis (RS Sr.)
2. Jack Dunn (RS Sr.)
Danny Davis’ comeback was huge for this fleeting attack. While that doesn’t appear to be the case, with a strong senior season, he will leave the program’s top ten in several statistical categories. Davis is a downstream threat with excellent body control. He missed a lot last season.
Jack Dunn was a good walk-on player. Despite its size, it blocks at a high level and is a good depth option if someone is short on time.
1. Kendric Pryor (RS Sr.)
2. Chimera Dike (So.)
Also important was Kendric Pryor’s return in what would have been an otherwise inexperienced reception hall. Pryor has a sneaky side and is a good option to have on the sweep roll. Pryor has great speed and is a weapon that Chryst will craft keys for.
Chimere Dike is the future of this reception hall. Dike had asked a lot of him last season as a real freshman. With Davis and Pryor back, he’ll have a lot less attention on him which should make him stand out for this offense. It’s clear that he and Mertz have a strong bond, and Dike is an exceptional road racer. Dike’s future looks bright.
1. Jake Ferguson (RS Sr.)
2. Hayden Rucci (RS So.) or Jack Eschenbach (RS Jr.)
Put simply, Barry’s grandson is one of the best tight ends in Wisconsin football history. Ferguson is Mertz’s favorite target and I expect him to have a monster senior season. You don’t often find a player who can contribute at a high level for as long as they have, so don’t take it for granted.
I’m going to lump Rucci and Eschenbach together on this one because both play remarkable reserve roles. Rucci is arguably the team’s best option as a blocking tight end and was damn good at the role a season ago. I expect more of the same from him this season as Eschenbach is used more as a passer. Eschenbach is a great athlete for the job and could also find himself with additional opportunities as the program seeks to further develop players for life after Ferguson.
1. Tyler Beach (RS Sr.)
2. Logan Brown (RS So.)
1. Josh Seltzner (RS Sr.)
2. Cormac Sampson (RS Jr.)
1. Kayden Lyles (RS Sr.)
2. Tanner Bortolini (RS Fr.)
1. Jack Nelson (RS Fr.)
2. Michael Furtney (RS Jr.)
1. Logan Bruss (RS Sr.)
2. Trey Wedig (RS Fr.)
As fall camp approaches, barring injury, the first team’s offensive line appears to be established. Joe Rudolph has always expressed his willingness to put his top five players on the pitch and worry about form later. This is probably why Jack Nelson finds himself starting from the right guard. He is so talented that he made his way onto the pitch without asking any questions. Nelson will be a mainstay of the offensive line of Wisconsin’s football program for years to come, with the added benefit of having representatives alongside talented and battle-proven seniors.
The second unit is where the spots on the two depths are up for grabs. There is no shortage of talented young players to try to prove themselves. Paul Chryst has done an incredible job on the scouting track in recent years, leaving the Wisconsin football team embarrassed for wealth in this position. This is of course a big problem to have, and which often resolves itself. Don’t be surprised if the two-deep looks a little different at this position before the open. I expect the offensive line to be dominant this season and prepare for success well beyond this season.