Wisconsin Football: Key matchups to watch vs. Western Kentucky

MADISON, WI - SEPTEMBER 09: Michael Deiter (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
MADISON, WI - SEPTEMBER 09: Michael Deiter (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /
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Wisconsin Football- D'Cota Dixon
MADISON, WI – OCTOBER 15: D’Cota Dixon (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images) /

Badgers Secondary vs WKU Passing Attack

Similar to the defensive line, there will be a lot of new faces in the secondary this fall.  Derrick Tindal and Natrell Jamerson graduated and Nick Nelson left early for the NFL, leaving only D’Cota Dixon behind.

There are a lot of young players in this unit but they are young guys who boast a whole lot of talent.  This group performed admirably against a talented Wisconsin receiving core during camp and should give them confidence heading into the season.

There are many players still fighting for playing time.  Friday night should be a good indicator of what the starting unit will look like going forward. If reports are accurate, Scott Nelson looks to be a lock to start next to his friend and mentor Dixon.  Nelson has garnered praise from Jim Leonhard for his performance throughout camp.  Leonhard mentioned that Nelson has “flashed big-play ability.”  For a redshirt freshman, earning Leonhard’s confidence early on bodes well for what kind of career Nelson will have at Wisconsin.  Nelson screams ‘Wisconsin safety’ and I expect a great performance from him Friday night.

Fast forward to 4:15 to understand my excitement for Scott Nelson.

Caesar Williams, Faion Hicks, Dontye Carriere-Williams, Madison Cone and surprising Deron Harrell are all looking to solidify their role in the defensive secondary.  I expect to see combinations including all five of these guys on Friday night.  Carriere-Williams played the most last season but Hicks and Caesar Williams have pushed him during fall camp.  Cone has been working in the slot and seems suited to take on that role against the Hilltoppers.  Harrell, a former wide receiver has adjusted quite nicely to his new position.  Early on in camp, he was getting extensive work with the first-team unit.  He could be a player to not only watch for this year but for years to come.

Western Kentucky averaged 335 passing yards per game last year, good for 7th in the country.  They lose a two-year starter and record-breaking quarterback Mike White but return a collective of young, explosive talents at receiver.  Wide receiver Lucky Jackson recorded 600 receiving yards a year ago as a redshirt freshman and could be a star in the making.  He possesses great speed, making him a deep-threat playmaker.  Jackson will test the Badgers young corners when it comes to covering post and fly routes.  I would not be surprised to see Jackson make some plays early in this game when the jitters are still being felt from the Wisconsin corners.

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I have confidence in Dixon guiding this group throughout the game and making some plays of his own.  Let’s see if the young secondary will live up to the hype that they have been generating during camp.