Badgers offense ‘has to change’ under new OC Bobby Engram:

Head Coach Paul Chryst and the Wisconsin Badgers aren’t oblivious to their current situation. For UW to contend for a Big Ten title in 2022, the Badgers offense will need to improve – and in a hurry.

Last season, Wisconsin finished No. 8 in the Big Ten in total yards per game (371.1). The Badgers dominant running game was held back by inconsistent quarterback play and an anemic passing offense that ranked 120th overall (160.2 yards per game), 105th in passing efficiency (120.70), and 83rd in yards per completion (11.76).

Gone are Joe Rudolph and Wisconsin’s top three pass catchers, opening the door for Coach Chryst and company to shake things up entering 2022.

Enter first-year offensive coordinator Bobby Engram, who needs to invigorate a stale and waning offensive scheme at UW.

Coach Engram comes to Wisconsin from the Baltimore Ravens franchise, where he spent eight seasons working under several highly respected coaches.

“Running football well is important, using the play-action pass, being multiple and doing a lot of different things offensively, but doing them well. For me, it’s bringing a fresh look and my own sense of creativity to what’s already been proven successful here. “I’ve been fortunate to be around some great coaches and players in the NFL, and I want to bring the best of what I’ve learned to the Badgers,” Engram said in a Wisconsin football press release.

No wholesale offensive changes are expected to be made in 2022. However, Paul Chryst and Bobby Engram will collaborate to bring an infusion of new ideas to the field this upcoming season – hoping to jumpstart Wisconsin’s offense and return to the top of the Big Ten standings .

Let’s take a look at Wisconsin’s returning personnel entering the 2022 season:

Running Backs:

Oct 30, 2021; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers running back Braelon Allen (0) rushes with the football during the first quarter against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports:

Coach Engram inherits the No.2 ranked rushing attack in the Big Ten – led by freshman All-American Braelon Allen and senior tailback Chez Mellusi.

The RB duo has complimentary running styles that accentuate each other’s strengths. Allen is a workhorse capable of taking the lion’s share of the carries, while Mellusi is a slashing runner that proficiently catches passes out of the backfield. It wouldn’t be a stretch for both RBs to exceed 1,000 yards of total offense in 2022.

I’ll be most interested to see if Coach Engram can find a way to get the running back room more involved in the passing game. The best offenses can tailor the offensive scheme to the strengths of the returning personnel, and Wisconsin knows where its bread is buttered.

Pass-Catchers:

Nov 6, 2021; Piscataway, New Jersey, USA; Wisconsin Badgers wide receiver Chimere Dike (13) celebrates his interception against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during the first half at SHI Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports:

At wide receiver, junior Chimere dike will be the unquestioned WR1 in the Badgers passing attack. Behind him, the WR room has plenty of young, potential-filled options, such as Skyler Bell, Keontez Lewis, and Markus Allen, who will all be fighting for meaningful snaps.

Despite being riddled with injuries, UW has a collection full of young ascending tight ends with diverse skill sets that will collectively work to replace the production of Jake Ferguson.

Offensive Line:

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – DECEMBER 30: Offensive linemen Tanor Bortolini # 63, Jack Nelson # 79 and Cormac Sampson # 62 of the Wisconsin Badgers walk to the line of scrimmage during the SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Allegiant Stadium on December 30, 2021 in Las Vegas , Nevada. The Badgers defeated the Sun Devils 20-13. (Photo by Ethan Miller / Getty Images)

The Badgers will be returning starters Jack Nelson, Joe Tippmann, and Tyler Beach this season. Behind them, Coach Bostad has no shortage of talented options pushing to see the field. Wisconsin has eight scholarship offensive linemen that were rated as four or five-star prospects coming out of high school.

On paper, this is the most talented room on the entire roster as it relates to recruiting rankings. The hope is that Coach Bostad can elevate the offensive line play and return it to the Wisconsin gold standard.

Quarterback:

Graham Mertz:

Graham Mertz:

Nov 13, 2021; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz (5) throws a pass during the first quarter against the Northwestern Wildcats at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports:

Most of Wisconsin’s offensive success this upcoming season will hinge on the play of third-year starting quarterback Graham Mertz.

As a redshirt sophomore, the Kansas native completed an underwhelming 59.5% of his passes for 1,958 yards with 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He also had five fumbles, tied for second-most in the Big Ten.

For the Badgers offense to succeed next season, they’ll need Mertz to be efficient and cut down on turnover-worthy plays.

Wisconsin’s offense should take a huge step forward next season if Mertz can make the right reads within the context of the offense and keep the chains moving.

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