Follow Us

I think I echo a lot of Badger fans when I say that we need a return to the run game in some form. The eye test has shown me pretty much what I expected from quarterback Tanner Mordecai, a quarterback that probably isn’t NFL level, but is ahead of many of his peers. 

Mordecai is on pace to throw for about 2,800 yards through three games, which would slot him in as the third-most prolific single season quarterback in Badger history. But Wisconsin is just 2-1 to start the season.

Running backs Chez Melusi and Braelon Allen have carried the ball 76 times through three games, versus Mordecai’s 101 pass attempts. With the air raid offense a work in progress, there’s clearly a commitment to having Mordecai throw the ball as much as possible early in the season.

But what should Wisconsin’s offensive balance be?

Air Raid hasn’t worked in the first half

Here are the scores going into halftime for each game so far:

Wisconsin 14 – Buffalo 10

Wisconsin 9 – Washington State 24

Wisconsin 7 – Georgia State 7

Looking at the Badger office though the first halves:

17 rushes, 25 dropbacks against Buffalo.

8 rushes, 26 dropbacks against Washington State.

10 rushes, 23 dropbacks against Georgia State. 

That’s a pretty clear pattern in the first half of going pass-heavy. It also got the Badgers exactly one lead going into the break.

A balanced attack has worked in the second half

Now, here are the second half scores:

Wisconsin 24 – Buffalo 7

Wisconsin 13 – Washington State 7

Wisconsin 28 – Georgia Southern 7

The Badgers outscored all three opponents in the second half 65 to 21, including a near comeback against Washington State, and pulled two victories out. 

Looking at the offense again in the second half:

13 rushes, 10 dropbacks (before garbage time) against Buffalo

12 rushes, 24 dropbacks against Washington State.

17 rushes, 14 dropbacks against Georgia Southern.

In first halves, Wisconsin has been outscored by opponents by 9 points with a roughly 2:1 pass to run ratio. In second halves the Badgers have outscored opponents by 43 points, with a roughly 1:1 pass to run ratio.

Now I know Buffalo and Georgia Southern are technically “cupcakes”, but a clear pattern is forming here. When Wisconsin throws the ball a ton, we look pretty bad. When we have a balanced offense, we look pretty good.

What does the offense (and Mordecai) need to do going forward?

I’m not saying an air raid wouldn’t work in the future, but in 2023 the Badgers’ best players are Allen and Melusi, not Mordecai and Dike. The coaching staff is doing the entire team a disservice by not getting the backs more of the ball.

The answer here isn’t to revert back to Chryst ball and run the ball 45 times a game, but I am asking for a much more even split throughout the game.

Against Big Ten opponents, Wisconsin won’t be able to just switch on and power past teams after a poor first half performance. Head coach Luke Fickell and Offensive Coordinator Phil Longo might just be working out the kinks in the pass game against weaker competition, but need to run the ball more this year. 

They can reevaluate the pass-heavy offense next year when the coaches can get more of their guys in.

Badger Stripes is a sports news organization that provides in-depth coverage of Wisconsin athletics. Follow us on Facebook.


The Racine County Eye, which includes the Kenosha Lens, is your source for local news that serves our diverse communities. Subscribe today to stay up-to-date with local sports, business, and more.

Follow us on Facebook: Racine County Eye or Kenosha Lens, and Twitter to make sure you get the latest news.

Racine County Eye and Kenosha Lens – Journalism that serves.

Leave a comment