Five ways the Wisconsin Football Offense can improve in 2018

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - NOVEMBER 25: Alex Hornibrook (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - NOVEMBER 25: Alex Hornibrook (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /
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Wisconsin Football - Garrett Groshek
CHAMPAIGN, IL – OCTOBER 28: Garrett Groshek (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

3. Utilize running backs as receivers

It sounds like I’m nitpicking the running back group quite a bit here. That’s because I am.

The leading receiver from the backfield last year was Jonathan Taylor, who had eight catches. He was followed up by Rachid Ibrahim’s seven catches. In 2016, Dare Ogunbowale had 24 catches and Corey Clement had 12. In 2015, Ogunbowale had 36 and fullback Derek Watt had 15.

Ogunbowale was certainly a talented receiver, but there’s no excuse for Derek Watt to be nearly doubling the catch totals of the Badger running backs from last year. Paul Chryst has shown he can use running backs in the passing game in his offense. Therefore, I believe it’s a lack of the receiving skillset within the current running back group. Chryst would probably prefer to use running backs as pass catchers as it diversifies the offense. It’s up to those guys to work on it.

This is the other key thing for Taylor to be improving on this offseason. Aside from ball security, being a threat on third down can earn him more playing time and touches. He wasn’t much of a receiver last year, as seen by his eight catches, so the Badger offense wasn’t as dynamic on third down. That has to change next year.

If the Badgers are truly going to be a great offense they must be able to throw the ball to more than just their group of receivers, however talented those receivers are.