The latest completely unsurprising quarterback decision? Step right up Wisconsin!
As has long been expected, the Badgers confirmed via their Week 1 depth chart release on Sunday that junior Jack Coan would be the Badgers starting quarterback for the upcoming season:
Coan was an obvious choice for Paul Chryst given his experience at the position and one wonders what took the program so long in naming him the guy given his five starts last season, including leading a blowout of a Miami in the Pinstripe Bowl. He threw for 515 yards and five touchdowns (against three interceptions) last year and replaced a rather ineffective Alex Hornibrook down the stretch.
With Hornibrook transferring to Florida State in the offseason and both Graham Mertz and Chase Wolf being freshmen, picking Coan to lead the team under center was an expected end result.
Perhaps the far more interesting name on the Wisconsin depth chart is that of wide receiver Quintez Cephus as the backup behind Kendric Pryor. While the former’s talent undoubtedly makes him one of the top options in the passing game, it’s still notable to see his name pop up given that he was so recently reinstated to the team following his acquittal of sexual assault charges earlier in the month.
Cephus has been practicing with the team but he did miss all of last season while dealing with the legal issues and will have less than two weeks of practices under his belt before the opener at USF on Aug. 30.
Either way, we at least know where he stands in the pecking order for the Badgers and who will be throwing him passes this season as UW gets set to make another run at the Big Ten title.
Miami had taken just one offensive snap in this year’s postseason appearance… and found themselves in a 14-0 hole.
Luckily for the Hurricanes though, their defense regrouped and the team only trails 14-3 to Wisconsin as a low-scoring Pinstripe Bowl hit halftime in the Bronx.
The Badgers’ initial score came off their opening drive as they hit the easy button on a six play, 65 yard effort before QB Jack Coan hit Kendric Pryor over the middle for a 35 yard touchdown. An interception and run back the defense on the ensuing possession then setup Doak Walker Award winner Jonathan Taylor going the other way for a short scoring run. The tailback wound up with 107 yards by the midway mark in the contest, looking much better than expected against a pretty stout UM defense.
Of course, it helped that Wisconsin had several short fields to work with thanks to the back end of their own defense going full ball hawk against Malik Rosier. The senior, playing in place of previous starter N’Kosi Perry, threw a pair of ill-advised interceptions and also saw one of his handoffs turn into a fumble. The signal-caller did have a few bright spots, taking off for a 62 yard run and winding up with 90 yards rushing all told.
Things could certainly still be worse for Mark Richt’s squad as Wisconsin kicker Rafael Gaglianone missed a pair of makeable field goals and the score remains somewhat manageable. Still, there was a lot of people who thought that Miami wouldn’t really get up for a cold weather game against an opponent they’ve seen plenty of recently but neither side will go into the second half all that thrilled with what went on early up at Yankee Stadium.
At the half in the Big House, No. 12 Michigan holds a 13-7 lead over No. 15 Wisconsin.
Michigan moved the ball well throughout the half — punting only once — but should have more to show for its 203 yards on 31 snaps than those 13 points.
The missed opportunities started on Michigan’s first drive of the game, a 55-yard march that ended in a missed 41-yard field goal try by Quinn Nordin. After forcing a Wisconsin punt, the Wolverines got on the board thanks to an 81-yard burst by quarterback Shea Patterson, taking the ball from the Michigan 14 to the Wisconsin 5. Two Karan Higdon runs punched it in from there, putting Michigan up 7-0 a minute and a half into the second quarter.
Wisconsin answered with its own quick-strike drive, getting 38 yards on three Jonathan Taylor runs followed by a 33-yard scoring jaunt by Kendric Pryor, leveling the game at 7-7 at the 11:26 mark of the second quarter.
After two straight three-and-outs, Michigan pushed into Badger territory, but the drive stalled and this time Nordin converted a 42-yarder.
On the next play from scrimmage, Josh Metellus snared a tipped Alex Hornibrook pass at the Wisconsin 46 and returned it 31 yards to the 15. But Michigan did not move forward from there, forcing the second Nordin field goal in a 61-second span, pushing the lead to 13-7 with 3:11 left before halftime.
After another Wisconsin three-and-out, Donovan Peoples-Jones returned an Anthony Lotti punt 26 yards to the Badgers’ 49 and then hauled in a 17-yard reception to put the Wolverines at the Wisconsin 32 with 1:30 left before the break, but Patterson lost the ball on a sack by Wisconsin’s Ryan Connelly. Michigan recovered the fumble, but the 15-yard loss forced a 54-yard Nordin try on the final play of the first half, which fluttered wide left.
Michigan will receive to open the second half.