September 15, 2015

(AP) - For once at Wisconsin, the running game isn't setting the pace on offense.

After two games under new coach Paul Chryst, the 24th-ranked Badgers are showing the potential to have a diverse passing attack.

Nine receivers have caught passes over the first two games. Senior Joel Stave looks confident in the pocket under the tutelage of the offensive-minded Chryst. Reliable receiver Alex Erickson is on pace for a 100-catch season.

''Some games, you throw to run. Some games you run to throw. But I don't get caught up in trying to be something or another,'' Chryst said Monday.

Wisconsin (1-1), however, may lean a bit more on the run Saturday against Troy, which is allowing an average of 257.0 rushing yards for the 10th-worst run defense in the FBS.

The Badgers are known for strong rushing attacks. That wasn't supposed to change this season with Corey Clement taking over for Heisman Trophy runner-up Melvin Gordon at tailback.

Clement, though, has been slowed by a groin injury. He didn't play in last Saturday's 58-0 win over Miami of Ohio and was limited to 16 yards on eight carries in the Week 1 loss to Alabama. The offensive line has struggled for stretches because of injuries and inexperience, particularly with two new starters on the right side.

At least the passing game is off to a promising start.

The Badgers performed admirably through the air against a tough Alabama defense before overwhelming Miami. Stave is completing 65.2 percent of his passes, throwing for five touchdowns to two interceptions.

The running backs and other check-down targets are viable options for the poised quarterback. Already, Clement's backup, Dare Ogunbowale, has nine catches for 64 yards. Fullback Derek Watt has five catches for 22 yards, all against Alabama as a helpful safety valve.

Six-foot-3 junior Rob Wheelwright has caught three touchdown passes and has shown athletic ability in making tough catches. Erickson knows how to get open. Six-foot-4 tight end Austin Traylor gives Stave another big target, along with 6-6 receiver-safety Tanner McEvoy.

Having so many options is fun for Stave. Last year, he would often key on Erickson.

''It makes it more fun when you can spread it around and truly just go through your reads,'' Stave said, ''and you're not as much looking for a guy as are looking for the open guy ... There's not so much looking for a specific player.''

Some players were already a little familiar with Chryst from his previous job as the Badgers offensive coordinator and assistant before moving to Pittsburgh for three years as head coach starting in 2012.

Things could change, Chryst stressed. Game plans are tweaked from week to week. Whenever Clement does return, the Badgers could elect to give him some extra work to get him prepared for Big Ten play.

Wisconsin's ability to throw has not been lost on Troy coach Neal Brown.

"Offensively they are balanced, they throw the ball a lot better than people give them credit for," he said. "They've got a quarterback in Joel Stave, who's close to a lot of the Wisconsin records. They use a lot of different shift and motions. Their big bodies are a concern for us."

The Trojans had trouble with a major conference team in their opener, losing 49-21 to North Carolina State before bouncing back to defeat Charleston Southern of the FCS 44-16 last Saturday. They didn't commit a turnover against the Buccaneers after having two giveaways and holding the ball for 18 minutes against the Wolfpack.

Troy has never faced Wisconsin and is winless in seven games against Big Ten teams. It is 1-20 against ranked opponents since becoming an FBS program in 2001, with the victory coming over Missouri in 2004.

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