Prospect Preview: (15) Wisconsin at (12) Michigan

 

david edwards

Last weekend we looked at the Red River Showdown. With Texas, in the past few years, it’s been difficult to avoid labeling them back too soon. After a good win against USC and a superb win, staving off a roaring Oklahoma comeback attempt, it may be time to finally accept that Texas is the real deal this year. Finally looking like the team that they’ve been made out to be every year, they may make a serious push for a New Years Bowl Game this season. Beware the Longhorns.

Wisconsin hasn’t quite started the season exactly how they would have liked to, from losing against BYU to winning a tight one in Iowa City, the Badgers don’t look like the Big 10 powerhouse from prior years. Still, ranked as the 15th team in the nation, they have a chance to make a serious statement. Winning out this season can still get them into the elusive playoffs. The offensive line, along with the running game has looked like everything it was made out to be preseason. That will be put to the test against a stout Michigan Wolverine defense.

Michigan lost in week one to Notre Dame. After being outplayed for most of the game, they lost by only a touchdown. Since then, they have looked like an elite program. Beating up every team over a three-week span, they had an average win margin of 39 points. After a tight win in week five against Northwestern, they’re back to steamrolling teams, proving so with a 21 point win against Maryland. Michigan’s defense is the heart of the team, giving up just under 16 points a game. The offense has looked superb against weaker teams, but only alright against some of the higher end teams like Notre Dame and Northwestern. Ole Miss Transfer Shea Patterson looks to be settling into the program and a big game from him can allow Michigan to push for a playoff spot as well.

In a game that will feature an intriguing matchup of O-Line vs. D-Line, let’s take a look at some of the top prospects.

C Tyler Biadasz, Wisconsin

Tyler Biadasz entered the season as one of the less heralded Wisconsin offensive linemen. The hype was coming from Beau Benzschawel, David Edwards, and Michael Deiter. Midway through the season, Biadasz has made his case to be the best offensive lineman on the team. As a freshman last year, he was a Freshman All-American, and he also cracked the Big 10 Third-Team. As only a redshirt sophomore, he’ll have the choice to stay at school and continue his collegiate career, but he looks the part of a professional football player already.

Strengths

Biadasz has an exceptionally low center of gravity, getting low in his stance regularly. He has powerful legs and consequently, he’s very difficult to move. He does a very good job as well getting outside to make blocks on outside runs. Getting to the second level is a regular occurrence for Biadasz, but he sometimes is a step slow getting to where he needs to be. Picking up late blitzes is a specialty of his, regularly preventing late rushers from getting through the line.

Weaknesses

On inside runs, he gets a little upright in his stance, losing some of the power that makes him so good. He also lets some pass rushers slip through the line, but when diagnosing offensive line mishaps, interior block misses are hard to blame on the quarterback because the scheme could call for the guards to be responsible for them as well. Occasionally he struggles to set his feet when he blocks downfield. Most of his weaknesses are just technique issues that can be fixed up though.

Current Projection: Round 1

OLB Devin Bush, Michigan

Devin Bush played has played in every game of his career so far. He played in all 13 games in his freshman season, many on special teams. The following season as a sophomore, he broke out as a star and played in 13 games once again. Bush was an All-American Second-Teamer last season, as well as being an All-Big 10 First-Teamer. After being voted a team captain for Michigan for this 2018 season, he looks the part of a possible All-American First-Team linebacker.

Strengths

Devin Bush is an incredibly rangy linebacker who moves very well, especially for an outside linebacker. He’s a playmaker who can get sideline to sideline, as well as get in behind the line of scrimmage to make plays. He has a knack for finding late gaps in the offensive line which he hits with so much speed that the quarterback has no chance. He diagnoses plays really well and his positional play is superb. He’s one of the very few versatile players in college football, being able to play inside or outside in a 3-4 or a 4-3.

Weaknesses

Bush has very few weaknesses, one of them though is that he gets knocked down a few too many times. He can stand to build his frame a little bit if he wants to stick at outside linebacker, but it will suffice in college. As well as he diagnoses plays, he doesn’t always diagnose blocking schemes so well, and he seems unprepared by too high of a proportion of blockers that come his way. These weaknesses won’t make or break his draft stock, but with bigger and stronger blockers in the NFL, it will become more important at the next level to diagnose and prepare for them to come his way.

Current Projection: Round 1

OT David Edwards, Wisconsin

David Edwards redshirted in 2015 and began playing as a tackle for Wisconsin in 2016. Dependent on the source, Edwards was labeled as an All-American from First-Team to Third-Team. He was also an All-Big 10 Second-Teamer. Also, as an intelligent individual, Edwards has been an All-Big 10 Academic Award winner in every season he’s played. He also has the choice to stay in school for one more season following the conclusion of this season, but he’s being looked at as a day one or day two player at this point. He should make a very formidable tackle at the next level.

Strengths

Edwards does a very good job of getting off the line of scrimmage and getting his hands on pass rushers right away. He is exceptional with the length of blocks, easily holding his blocks for several seconds, allowing the quarterback to take time to get the ball downfield. Edwards gets a good amount of chip blocks onto late rushers, slowing them down just enough to allow for a play to be made. He’s exceptional at getting the leverage to allow Jonathan Taylor to hit the outside with speed.

Weaknesses

His first step is regularly straight backward. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it would be nice to see him open up towards the outside to account for 5-tech edge rushers. He struggles sometimes against speed rushers but he generally is very good against the bull rush. Generally, against the speed rush, the thing that hurts his abilities is that he accounts for the speed by moving backward rather than trying to get his hands off of him.

Current Projection: Round 2-3

DT Rashan Gary, Michigan

Rashan Gary was the top player in his recruitment class and he was labeled as the next Jadeveon Clowney. Since starting his career at Michigan, Gary has proven to be a versatile piece of one of the best defenses in the nation. He has moved around from defensive tackle to defensive end, being a force at each of those spots. He showed off his superstar ability against Ohio State last season finishing with 2.5 tackles for loss and 2 sacks. As a junior, he is expected to make the jump this season, but this game should be a good test for Gary, playing against the NFL worthy Wisconsin offensive line.

Strengths

Rashan Gary is very lean and he has the versatility to play both defensive end and defensive tackle. He gets off the line with a good jump and his motor is significantly above average. His swim move and his rip are great and he can use it at the next level to beat offensive linemen regularly. He slips blockers to be a really good run stopper as well. Ultimately, his versatility will be a question mark at the next level, but it looks like it will give defensive coordinators a weapon to use in different schemes throughout the game.

Weaknesses

He only has two real weaknesses. The first was mentioned just prior, his versatility makes him a question mark at the next level, and depending on what team he gets drafted by, he can be used as a versatile weapon, or he’ll have to train to adjust his body frame to fit that of a defensive end or defensive tackle. Otherwise, his biggest problem is that he gets turned around too often, and he ends up with his front facing the sideline, which is quite concerning as it starts to happen too often.

Current Projection: Round 1-2

 

Conclusions

In the several huge Big 10 matchups every year, Wisconsin and Michigan is often one of the more under-appreciated games. This will be an interesting game that will be defined by Michigan’s defensive line and pass rush going up against Wisconsin’s offensive line and run game. Both of these teams have the opportunity to push for the playoffs, but that begins with a win today. Both teams will come out firing, but I would be hesitant to say that  Wisconsin has the offensive talent to overcome Michigan at the Big House.

Twitter: @MaxEFreedman

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