Wisconsin Football: 5 Central Michigan players Badger fans should know

EAST LANSING, MI - SEPTEMBER 29: Tommy Lazzaro #7 of the Central Michigan Chippewas throws a first half pass while playign the Michigan State Spartans at Spartan Stadium on September 29, 2018 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
EAST LANSING, MI - SEPTEMBER 29: Tommy Lazzaro #7 of the Central Michigan Chippewas throws a first half pass while playign the Michigan State Spartans at Spartan Stadium on September 29, 2018 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

After a stellar opener, Wisconsin Football hosts Central Michigan on Saturday. Who are the 5 Chippewas who Badger fans should keep the closest eye on?

Week 1 couldn’t have gone much better for the Badgers, who demolished South Florida 49-0 to kick off the season last Friday. The next test for Wisconsin will come in the form of the Central Michigan Chippewas, who will come into Camp Randall on Saturday afternoon 1-0 after defeating FCS program Albany 38-21 at home over the weekend.

The Badgers are expected to defeat the Chippewas, who went a nightmarish 1-11 last season, by a considerable margin. However, you can be sure that Paul Chryst and company will not be underestimating a program that has traditionally been one of the MAC’s best and is now under the leadership of a well-respected head coach in Jim McElwain, formerly of Colorado State and Florida. McElwain certainly does not have this team where he wants it long-term, but he has some guys that Wisconsin will need to plan carefully for.

Here are five players on the opposing sideline whose performances will be crucial to deciding the outcome in this one.

1. Quinten Dormady – Quarterback

2017 stats (at Tennessee): 55.5 % passing, 925 YDS, 6 TD, 6 INT

A main reason why Wisconsin was able to defeat South Florida so handily last week was the pressure the defense was able to consistently put on Bulls quarterback Blake Barnett, a talented player who I would not have been surprised to see give the Badgers some trouble. Barnett was just never able to get comfortable in the pocket, going just 13-30 passing for an unimpressive 109 yards and 2 picks.

Jim Leonhard will be looking to make life similarly miserable for Central Michigan signal caller Quinten Dormady, who, like Barnett, was once a highly-touted prospect but has bounced around a few different programs in college. Dormady began his career at Tennessee but was ultimately forced out of Knoxville after seeing himself fall behind Jarrett Guarantano as a junior. He then transferred to Houston, but he ultimately just appeared in one game, going 2-5 for 8 yards, before deciding to transfer yet again, this time to Central Michigan.

Handing out game balls from win vs. South Florida. light. Hot

As with Barnett, though Dormady has not had the college career he was hoping for as an elite high school recruit, he still retains the talent to cause problems for opposing defenses if he’s not properly accounted for. Though Albany is certainly no Wisconsin, he should also have some confidence coming off a big game against the Great Danes, going 27-37 for 285 yards and three touchdowns.

If the Chips have any hope of even making this game competitive, they’ll likely need their senior quarterback to step up with one of the strongest performances of his career against the Badgers.

2. Jonathan Ward – Running Back

2018 stats: 2.8 YPC, 212 YDS, 1 TD

After following up a standout sophomore season in which he rushed for 990 yards and nine scores and was named Second Team All-MAC with a disappointing 2018 campaign, Ward appears to have resumed his role as Central Michigan’s bell cow at running back if last week’s game was any indication. Against Albany, Ward turned his 22 carries into 158 yards (7.2 yards per carry) and two touchdowns, and also padded the box score with three receptions for 53 yards out of the backfield.

A dynamic back who can make an impact in both the running and passing games (he was fourth on the team in receiving yards with 361 in his breakout sophomore season), Ward is arguably Central Michigan’s most dangerous weapon offensively. Shutting him down will be another nice test for this revamped Wisconsin front seven after they passed their first with flying colors against South Florida.

3. Kalil Pimpleton – Wide Receiver

2017 stats (with Virginia Tech): 1 carry, 4 YDS

Forced to sit out last season after transferring from Virginia Tech back to his home state of Michigan, Pimpleton is expected to be one of Dormady’s top weapons in 2019.

He’s not exactly a proven commodity at the college level considering he touched the ball just once during his freshman season as a Hokie, but McElwain is very high on the 5’9, 175-pound speedster, who has also developed a nice connection with Dormady. Pimpleton, who racked up 2,855 all-purpose yards to go along with 43 total touchdowns his senior season at one of Michigan’s top high school programs in Muskegon, has the traits to be a dangerous and versatile player on this Central Michigan offense.

Pimpleton had a solid performance against Albany to kick off the season, catching eight passes for 40 yards and a touchdown. It will be tough to build on that against Wisconsin, but the Badgers will likely be honing in on taking him out of the game and preventing him from getting the type of one on one opportunities in open space that McElwain will be trying to scheme up.

4. Devonni Reed – Safety

2018 stats: 97 tackles (62 solo), 3 passes defended

Likely Central Michigan’s top returning defender this season after ranking second on the team in solo, assisted, and total tackles in 2018, Reed will play a major role in the Chippewas’ defensive game plan against the Badgers on Saturday.

Reed has already proven that he can elevate his game to compete with the best: last season against an excellent Kentucky squad, he had a monster outing in which he had a career-high 14 tackles (11 solo) and recovered a fumble that he took 20 yards to the house for a score. Off to a great start in 2019 after leading the Chippewas in solo and total tackles last week, a steady presence from Reed on the back end of Central Michigan’s defense will be needed to prevent Jonathan Taylor and Wisconsin from ripping off too many big plays. How much success he finds in that endeavor will be key as the game wears on.

5. Sean Adesanya – Defensive End

2018 stats: 29 tackles (16 solo), 7 TFL, 4 sacks

If the Chippewas have any hope of pulling this upset, they will need to force the Badgers into some turnovers. Their best bet to do so will be to find success in the pass rush and pressure Jack Coan into making mistakes, which is where Adesanya comes in.

Central Michigan’s leading returner in tackles for loss and sacks after stud defensive end Mike Danna transferred to Michigan, Adesanya seems like the Chippewas’ most viable option in terms of getting into the backfield and creating some havoc. His team will likely need the former Illinois transfer to have far more of an impact against the Badgers than his one tackle performance against Albany last week if a win is even within the realm of possibility.

Depending on where he lines up on the line of scrimmage, I’ll be closely monitoring how well Cole Van Lanen and/or Logan Bruss do in locking Adesanya up.

Next. 10 best Wisconsin football games since 2010. dark

All stats courtesy of Sports Reference