2016 Wisconsin Badgers Spring Game: Five Factors to Watch

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /

Plenty to watch for in the Wisconsin Badgers spring game.

You know you are getting one step closer to the college football season kicking off when spring games start popping up all over the country. The Wisconsin Badgers spring game kicks off Saturday afternoon signifying the start of Paul Chryst’s second season at the helm. Although there are some familiar faces in similar places, there are still some aspects of the team you should keep an eye on while watching the Badgers spring game.

Related Story: Wisconsin Spring Game Position Battles

5. New defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox. I don’t expect Wilcox to show a lot of his hand as far as the defense in concerned in this game, but it will be interesting to see just what he does with this defense. I don’t expect much, if anything, to really change with one of the better defenses in the country. But I do expect Wilcox to put his stamp on this defense and add a few more wrinkles that are different from what Dave Aranda had during his tenure in Madison.

4. Wide receiver battle. I wouldn’t worry about the top two guys Rob Wheelwright and Jazz Peavy. They seem to have a hold on those two spots. What you should be watching for is how the guys below them perform and if there will be a consistent third option in the passing game. Both George Rushing and Reggie Love will be competing for that spot and, as Jim Oxley recently wrote, both have shown us glimpses over the past couple of years of how they can contribute to the program. It’s time for one of them to rise above the other and become a solid third option.

3. New-look secondary. Both safeties Tanner McEvoy and Michael Caputo are gone leaving a big hole in the secondary to fill. Luckily for the Badgers, they have experienced players to fill that void. D’Cota Dixon, Leo Musso and Lubern Figaro have seen plenty of playing time in their careers in Madison. Any combination of those three guys could be viable options to fill those two safety spots. Throw in sophomore and four-star recruit from a year ago Arrington Farrar in the mix and it will be a fun battle to watch play out. 

Wisconsin Badgers
Wisconsin Badgers /

Wisconsin Badgers

Replacing Darius Hillary who played opposite of top cornerback Sojourn Shelton will also be something to keep an eye on while watching the Badgers spring game. Natrell Jamerson and Derrick Tindal are the two likeliest candidates to fill that spot and the spring game could give us a good glimpse how Wilcox will handle this position.

2. Depth behind Corey Clement. Don’t expect to see Clement suit up for the spring game because honestly what’s the point of risking injury to him once again. But look at how the guys behind him perform. Dare Ogunbowale proved to be a very reliable option last year, especially behind a bad offensive line. Sophomore Taiwan Deal is high on the coaches radar and had a promising start to the year last year before an ankle injury slowed him down.

Redshirt freshman Bradrick Shaw is fourth on the depth char but it will be intriguing to see how many reps he gets in the spring game and how well he looks. With a healthy Clement back and depth behind him, Wisconsin could be shaping up to throw a three-headed monster in the backfield at teams.

1. Quarterback to replace Joel Stave. Seems like every year there is a quarterback battle heading into spring practices and 2016 is no exception. Bart Houston has been with the program for what seems like forever and looks to have the upper hand as the opening game starter. His toughest competition is redshirt freshman Alex Hornibrook, who at times struggled to begin the spring but has turned it around recently. Don’t expect anything to be set in stone immediately after the Badgers spring game regarding the quarterback position, but it will give coaches and fans alike a little more insight as to who performs better in a more game-like situation.

The Badgers spring game is slated to kick off at noon and run until around 2 p.m. CT. Tickets cost $5 with the proceeds benefiting the University of Wisconsin Division of Diversity, Equity and Educational Achievement. There will also be a kids fair two hours prior to the spring game inside the McClain Center.

Next: Badgers Running Backs Looking Strong in Spring

Wisconsin will hold practice drills for the first half of the event before holding a scrimmage for the final half. It will also be televised on the Big Ten Network and BTN2Go.