Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Big Ten [Print without images]

Thursday, June 11, 2009
Hope and concern: Wisconsin Badgers

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Biggest reason for hope -- John Clay and the run game

Wisconsin can always fall back on its offensive line and power run game, and the 2009 season should be no different. P.J. Hill's early departure to the NFL clears the way for Clay, who was very impressive in spurts last season as a backup. Clay finished seventh in the league in rushing (68 ypg) and had a sparking 5.7 yards-per-carry average as a redshirt freshman. If he can maintain a decent weight (235-240 pounds) and avoid further ankle problems, he should have a breakout season this fall. Wisconsin loses a few key pieces up front, but always seems to reload on the O-line.

Biggest reason for concern -- Holes on defense

Most would list the quarterback position as Wisconsin's biggest concern, but the passing game shouldn't be as big of a problem this fall with improved play from the wide receivers. The defense, meanwhile, loses its top two linebackers (DeAndre Levy and Jonathan Casillas), its top pass defender (corner Allen Langford) and three multiyear starters on the line (Matt Shaughnessy, Mike Newkirk, Jason Chapman). It could signal problems for a unit that struggled in the red zone and in the fourth quarter of games in 2008. Wisconsin should be pretty solid up front this fall, but there are questions elsewhere.

Recapping the hope and concern series: