Notebook: Badgers say stopping Hoosiers offense a challenge

MADISON, Wis. — Gary Andersen figured Indiana’s

offense would create potential problems for Wisconsin’s secondary even before

he saw film on the Hoosiers.

And now? The Badgers coach is even more concerned less than

48 hours before No. 17 Wisconsin (7-2, 4-1 Big Ten) plays host to Indiana (4-5,

2-3) Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium.

“This will be a tremendous challenge for our back end

on defense,” Andersen said following Thursday’s practice. “We’ll see

how this games goes. It’s a very, very good offense. The more I’ve watched them

on tape, the more concerning it’s become as far as how potent these guys are. I

think it’s 10 games straight they’ve scored 28 points. We all know the stats

and facts, but they back it up on film.”

Indiana ranks No. 2 in the Big Ten in scoring offense (43.1

points per game), No. 2 in total offense (527.1 yards) and No. 1 in passing

offense (327.4 yards). No other Big Ten team comes within 30 yards in the

passing offense category.

The Hoosiers have two quarterbacks that rank in the top five

in the Big Ten for pass efficiency — Tre Roberson and Nate Sudfield. And two

wide receivers — Cody Latimer and Shane Wynn — rank in the top 10 for

receiving yards per game.

Last season, Indiana averaged 30.8 points per game. But the

Hoosiers have taken their quick-paced offense to an entirely new level in 2013.

“They look much improved,” Badgers linebacker

Ethan Armstrong said this week. “They had skill last year. It’s the same

skill players. They’re just playing a lot better. You can tell they’re a little

more comfortable with their offense because they’re running it more effective

and they’re executing better.

“I think the pace at which they play really starts to

wear people down. You see that happen. So you’ve just got to keep executing and

try and keep them off the field as much as possible.”

Wisconsin’s secondary has been burned for some big plays

already this season. The Badgers surrendered 352 yards passing to Arizona State

quarterback Taylor Kelly in September, and Illinois passed for 319 yards.

Before this season, the Badgers had not given up a 300-yard passing game since

2009.

Indiana has passed for at least 319 yards in six of nine

games this season.

“It’s going to be a big test,” Andersen said.

“I think we’ve practiced in the back end OK. We’ve got a lot of work to do

between now and Saturday morning at 11 o’clock to get ready to play these guys.

I’ll tell you that much.”

Recruiting update: Wisconsin secured the 19th

commitment in the Class of 2014 on Thursday when running back Caleb Kinlaw

pledged his allegiance to the Badgers. Kinlaw, from Goose Creek, S.C., is rated

a three-star prospect by Scout.com and had scholarship offers from Arizona,

Georgia Tech, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia Tech,

among others.

Kinlaw, a 5-foot-10, 180-pounder, originally gave an oral

commitment to Georgia Tech before switching to Wisconsin. He is the second

running back in the Badgers’ 2014 class, joining Taiwan Deal from DeMatha

Catholic in Maryland. Wisconsin also continues to woo five-star tailback Joe

Mixon, who has the Badgers on his short list of schools.

Jackson making strides: Andersen said Badgers running

back Vonte Jackson continues to improve in his recovery from a third ACL tear

in two years.

Jackson likely would have entered the season as Wisconsin’s

No. 3 tailback behind James White and Melvin Gordon. He suffered his first torn

ACL in his left knee in August 2011 during his senior year at Kenosha Bradford.

He tore the ACL in his right knee one year later and tore the same ACL this

past summer.

“Seems fine,” Andersen said. “I just saw him

out here the other day doing ladders at practice. Moved around well. Got a

smile on his face. Seems like he’s in a good spot. He’s a kid you pull for.

We’d love to have him as a player. As hard as he’s worked, it’s been a tough

grind.”

Andersen said he hoped Jackson could contribute in some way

once offseason conditioning began in January. But the coaching staff intends to

be careful with him even when spring practice starts.

“To be a full boat, no he won’t go,” Andersen

said. “We’re not going to give him the ball 30 times in a scrimmage this

spring. Knowing him, he’s going to want to hop out there and be ready to go.

We’ll go slow and easy and put the brakes on him because he wants to get out

there fast.”

Borland semifinalist: Wisconsin linebacker Chris

Borland was named one of nine semifinalists for the Lott IMPACT Trophy, which

is the only college football award that takes into account off-field

activities, including community service.

The award is named for famed defender Ronnie Lott, and

IMPACT is an acronym for Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics, Community

and Tenacity. Borland leads Wisconsin with 70 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and

4.0 sacks. Off the field, he has volunteered more than 100 community service

hours since May, which is more than double any other student-athlete at

Wisconsin.

Borland joins former UW players Jim Leonhard, a finalist in

2004, and J.J. Watt, the winner in 2010, as the only semifinalists for the

award in school history.

“It’s really cool,” Andersen said. “It’s a

great thing for him. No. 1, he deserves it in my opinion. I’m sure he’s excited

about that opportunity. Right now with Chris Borland, he’s more interested in

doing things the right way for the rest of the way through. But it’s awesome. I

hope there’s more to come for him. I hope he gets on a lot of those finalists

awards and hopefully he can find a way to win one.”

Injury updates: Andersen said linebacker Conor

O’Neill was expected to play against Indiana after missing last week’s game

against BYU with an ankle injury. Center Dallas Lewallen, meanwhile, will not

be available to play while he recovers from a leg injury. Dan Voltz will take

Lewallen’s starting spot.

If Voltz suffers an injury, Ryan Groy would move from left

guard to take over center responsibilities.

“After that, 55 will jog out of the tunnel,” said

Andersen, referencing the Halloween costume in which he wore full football gear

for practice a few weeks ago. “Put on (my) mullet and away I go.”

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