With the season coming closer and closer, and practices becoming even more competitive it is time to start assessing where things stand. Before fall camp started we gave you a look at the depth charts for every position.
Now that camp is well under way, weâ€™ve got a much better look at the players and thoughts of the coaching staff. It all means weâ€™ve got plenty of information available to us to update our thoughts on who will represent the Badgers football team in a major way during 2015.
Up first is a look at our projected starting offensive depth chart, both starters and second team. After all, we all know injuries are a part of the game and sometimes teams are only as good as the backups they have.
QB1: Joel Stave, RS Sr.
QB2: Bart Houston, RS Jr.
Head coach Paul Chrystâ€™s decision to not open up the starting job appears to have paid off, as Stave has been a steady hand all fall camp so far. Thereâ€™s little doubt Stave isnâ€™t flashy, but his understanding of the offense is good and he appears to at least be learning from the negative situations over the past few years.
The real competition has been at backup quarterback, but that appears to be Bart Houstonâ€™s job to loose for this season. Itâ€™s not a knock on redshirt freshman D.J. Gillins, but rather a positive statement to the jump Houston has made in his game this season. Houston appears more game ready right now, and that matters most. Look for Gillins to be a real threat to win the job in the next offseason though, and one could even say his upside is far greater for the long-term.
WR1: Alex Erickson, Sr.
Backup:Â George Rushing, So.
WR2: Tanner McEvoy, Sr.
Backup: Rob Wheelwright, Jr.
Could the Badgers have finally found the complement to Alex Erickson in the passing game? If early returns from fall camp are any indication, that complement is likely to come from senior safety/wide receiver Tanner McEvoy. Heâ€™s routinely beating a very good secondary and getting deep on them as well.
With UW looking for a lot more from the play-action passing game it is exactly what they would like to see. Outside of that, the other pieces of good news comes from the health department. That means both junior receivers, Reggie Love and Rob Wheelwright, havenâ€™t gotten injured just yet.
If they can survive a full camp as healthy, the Badgers receiving group is likely to be healthy overall. Add in sophomore receiver George Rushing and there is plenty of optimism that this group is going to be way better in 2015 than it was last season.
RB1: Corey Clement, Jr.
RB2: Dare Ogunbowale, Jr.
RB3: Tawian Deal, RS Fr.
FB1: Derek Watt, RS Sr.
FB2: Austin Ramesh, RS So.
Camp has proven there is still plenty of work to do behind starting running back Corey Clement. Both Tawain Deal and Dare Ogunbowale have gotten plenty of carries, but it appears Ogunbowale has the trust of the coaching staff and that gives him the edge on the No. 2 job. Deal will likely have a role on this team, as he is the better pass blocker between the two vying for the No. 2 job, but he appears to need more in the way of patience and vision. Those things will come with experience and it could be a good year to get his feet wet before next season.
TE1: Troy Fumagalli, RS So.
Backup: Eric Steffes, RS Sr.
TE2: Austin Traylor, RS Sr.
Backup: Kyle Penniston, Fr.
After a few down years at the tight end position it has been refreshing to hear and see this group is back. It may never have been gone, just not the same as it was under Chrystâ€™s leadership. Traylor has emerged as more than just a blocking tight end in camp, while there hasnâ€™t been a tight end making bigger strides than Steffes has. It has led him in to a role as one of the four tight ends to likely see major snaps this season.
The position was so-so heading in to fall camp, but through the first few weeks of practice it could be a massive strength. Even true freshman Kyle Penniston appears to be capable of making a big impact if given the chance. Overall, the depth at this position may be the highlight of the passing game in fall camp.
LT1: Tyler Marz, RS Sr.
LT2: Jon Dietzen, Fr.
LG1: Ray Ball, RS Rs.
LG2: Walker Williams, RS Jr.
C1: Dan Voltz, RS Jr.
C2: George Panos, RS Fr.
RG1: Michael Dieter, RS Fr.
RG2: Walker Williams, RS Jr.
RT1: Hayden Biegel, RS So.
RT2: Beau Benzschawel, RS Fr.
This group has been in more flux than any early on in camp, but it has been clear from the star whom the coaching staff favors to be starters come September 5th against Alabama. While a lot of questions remained about the inside positions before fall camp, it appears both Ray Ball and Michael Dieter have good immediate futures in front of them.
What has been interesting is the push true freshman Jon Dietzen (Seymour, Wis.) has made upon his arrival. Being a true freshman and seeing starting reps isnâ€™t a normal thing given UWâ€™s lengthly history and loaded position group. Right tackle had an injury scare this past week with both Biegel and Benzschawel down, but both appear to be back or will be back shortly. Itâ€™s the one position battle that is the most interesting to watch in this group.