Jonathan Taylor vs. Mohamed Barry
Jonathan Taylor turned in a solid performance against Iowa by rushing for 113 yards on 25 carries. In a grind it out kind of game Taylor’s play was exactly what the Wisconsin offense needed. Most importantly, Taylor did not put the ball on the turf and looked to be valuing ball security with every carry. Running inside against Iowa can be a daunting task but Taylor more than held his own and on to the ball. He did not have the explosive runs that Badger fans are accustomed to, but he was a workhorse and put his team in a position to win.
Coming off the bye week I expect Taylor to have fresh legs and impressive runs in his arsenal. Receiving so many carries in the first weeks of the season may have slowed down Taylor by the end of the Iowa game. Getting hit play after play will weigh on any player. Taylor has shown a high level of resiliency and determination to fight through any injuries he may be dealing with. A healthy and rested Jonathan Taylor will be on full display against Nebraska.
Taylor was fantastic in last year’s matchup against Nebraska. He completely dominated the Cornhusker defense in the second half in a variety of ways. Whether it was running the ball up the middle or taking draws and bouncing them outside, Taylor was running on all cylinders last year in Lincoln. Taylor showcased his break away speed, cutting ability and power from start to finish. I am sure Taylor is working towards a repeat performance and showing the nation why he is the best running back in the country.
Nebraska’s season has not had many bright spots so far. They turn the ball over, commit undisciplined penalties and play without an identity. One of the few reasons for optimism in Lincoln is inside linebacker Mohamed Barry. Barry plays with an incredibly high motor and a great understanding of the game. He appears to be the leader of the struggling Cornhusker defense, a defense that would be far worse without him. He is averaging close to ten tackles a game and is not afraid to be vocal with his teammates. Many are considering him to be the prime example of what exactly Scott Frost is looking for in his players. A tough, disciplined and passionate linebacker that brings it every single snap.
Barry has the difficult task of slowing down Taylor on Saturday. Nebraska ultimately failed at this last year and will be looking to redeem themselves. If Barry can shed off blockers and plug up holes on the inside on a consistent basis, he can make the Wisconsin offense have to beat them through the air. This is something BYU was quite successful in with the great play of linebacker Sione Takitaki. They forced the Badgers to be one dimensional and turn away from what makes them successful.
Barry has the ability and mindset to influence a game, the question is will it be enough against a Wisconsin offensive line and a rested up Jonathan Taylor who will most likely not be caught off guard again.