Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Badgers Keys to Victory: Pressuring Gamecock Quarterback Connor Shaw

As the holiday season ramps up and the temperatures in Wisconsin keep falling, college football fans like us simply do one thing; prepare for this years college football bowl season.

In the Wisconsin Badgers case, that means preparing for an unfamiliar foe in the ninth-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks. 

For as long as these two programs have been around, this will be the very first meeting on the gridiron between these two schools. What cheesehead-nation DOES know about South Carolina is they have a freak defensive end with serious NFL talent, and they are coached by the ‘old ball coach’, Steve Spurrier. Other than that, I think it’s safe to say that we don’t know much more than what meets the eye.

After doing some research on the Gamecock a weakness in their offense kept popping up, time and time again. Gamecocks Quarterback Connor Shaw has a difficult time passing the football when he is forced outside the pocket.

When Shaw has had time throwing out of a clean pocket he completes just over 67% of his passes and has thrown 15 touchdowns and zero interceptions.

jeff Blake-USA TODAY

On the flip side, when Shaw is forced to scramble and make a play with his arm, he’s completing just 39% of his passes. Mix in he’s only tossed six touchdowns and one interception (His only interception this season) and it’s clear where he’s comfortable.

There’s no doubting Shaw is an excellent college quarterback. He’s done a great job managing the South Carolina offense and rarely makes a mistake, which is one large reason why the Gamecocks see themselves ranked inside the top 10 in all of the national ranks.

However, that 39% completion stat doesn’t lie. If the Badgers want to dominate this game defensively, they will need to be creative with their blitzes and also with their twists and stunts at the line of scrimmage. A large part of that will obviously start with the leader on the Badgers defense, linebacker Chris Borland.

In my opinion, the best way to force Shaw outside of the pocket is to generate a strong initial push with our defensive tackles Beau Allen, Pat Muldoon, Warren Herring and Ethan Hemer. Those hogs in the middle will need to consistently push Shaw out of the pocket and force him to beat the Badgers while he’s on the move. If the defensive line can dominate the line of scrimmage throughout the course of the game, that will open up some more blitz packages with our defensive backs and linebackers coming off the edge.

This game could certainly be dominated on the ground by both teams, but when South Carolina is set on passing, the Badgers will need to capitalize on putting the heat on South Carolina’s senior quarterback. Stay tuned for more positional match-ups as the Capitol One Bowl approaches on New Year’s Day. And as always, On Wisconsin!

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Tags: Capital One Bowl Chris Borland Connor Shaw South Carolina Football Wisconsin Badger Football

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