I think the big story for Wisconsin’s special teams is their new punter. Andy Vujnovich transferred to Wisconsin this season from Division III Dubuque. He came in won the starting punting job after he was granted eligibility by the NCAA.
Last year, the Badgers struggled to have an effective punting game. Anthony Lotti averaged just under 40 yards per punt. He couldn’t flip the field for Wisconsin, making life harder for the defense, having to defend a short field.
Now that Lotti is gone, Vujnovich will have a chance to make a difference for Wisconsin’s special teams. On his first punt, Vuj boomed a 60-yard punt, pinning the Illini on their own 7-yard line. After that, he cooled off a bit, punting the next two 36 and 39 yards, respectively. He got a hold of his fourth and final punt, which went 49 yards. He finished the night with a 46-yard average.
Kicking-wise, Collin Larsh had a busy, but perfect night. He went 6-6 on extra points and hit a 19-yard field goal towards the end of the game to put the Badgers up 45-7. Last season, Larsh had some accuracy issues, finishing the season with a kicking accuracy of 66.7%.
With Aron Cruickshank transferring to Rutgers, the Badgers needed a new kick returner. Freshman receiver Stephan Bracey is his replacement. He only had two chances at kick returns, but he returned two for 28 yards. His second return would have been longer, but as he went down to get the ball, his knee touched the ground, erasing a nice return.
Overall, the special teams unit didn’t make mistakes, which is the most important thing. Hopefully, as the season goes on Vujnovich will continue to boom punts and the shanks will be rare and Larsh will be able to stay consistent and accurate.
Altogether, there is a whole lot to be happy about with the Badger’s first performance. There will be tougher opponents in the future, but Wisconsin proved they will win the games they are supposed to.
The Badgers will travel to Nebraska next week to take on the Huskers.