September 22, 2015

With starting tailback Corey Clement sidelined for the next four to six weeks, Wisconsin will look to continue getting a big boost from an improved and diverse passing game.

Under coach Paul Chryst, the 22nd-ranked Badgers (2-1) are making more use of the tight ends and running backs.

Senior quarterback Joel Stave has been at his best when the Badgers cross midfield. Inside the opponents' 40-yard line, Stave has gone 19 of 27 for 227 yards, with six touchdowns and no interceptions in three games. That adds up to a stellar pass efficiency rating of 214.3.

There's one last nonconference tuneup Saturday night against Hawaii before Big Ten play begins in a couple weeks against Iowa.

''We've done a good job at pushing the chains a little bit and get bigger runs on first down,'' Stave said Monday. ''In doing that you open up your playbook.''

That, in turn, opens up more options on second and third downs, including play-action.

Blossoming senior tight end Austin Traylor has also played a key role. He caught two passes for 39 yards and a touchdown in the Badgers' 28-3 victory over Troy on Saturday.

Traylor has six catches for 98 yards and two touchdowns for the season. He said he doubled his efforts during the offseason to earn an increased role in the offense.

''What they gave me was 100 catches a day so I did that throughout the offseason and spring ball and the summer,'' he said. ''It's paying dividends now.''

Still, the offense remains a work in progress without Clement, who rushed for 949 yards and nine touchdowns last season, playing a major role.

The offense that Wisconsin is running may not resemble what the Badgers use in the heat of conference play, when the running game might be more suitable for colder weather.

Clement was limited in the season-opening loss against Alabama with a sore groin before missing the next two games against Miami of Ohio and Troy. On Thursday, the team announced he will have sports hernia surgery.

Intense practices might prove important for Wisconsin, as Chryst has noticed Hawaii's hard-hitting style.

"I think it's one of their strengths," he said. "I think they're a team that loves the physical part of the game and they've got some guys that - I think their schemes play to that and I think they've got some really good football players.

"We talked about (coach Norm Chow) and their coaching staff, really good, respected coaching staff, different guys on our staff have played against different members of their staff and our guys will watch the tape and they will see it and they will be ready to go because it's a good team."

Some of Chryst's caution might stem from the Rainbow Warriors' effort against top-ranked Ohio State on Sept. 12, in which they trailed only 17-0 after three quarters before going on to lose 38-0.

Hawaii's most recent opponent wasn't nearly as daunting, though the Warriors struggled early before rolling to a 47-27 home win over UC Davis of the FCS last week. Hawaii trailed 10-6 with 1:56 left in the first half.

Max Wittek threw for a career-best 272 yards, connecting with Marcus Kemp five times for 119 yards and Devan Stubblefield six times for 108 yards - each with a touchdown catch.

Paul Harris carried eleven times for 147 yards, including a 95-yard TD in the third quarter. Melvin Davis added two touchdown runs.

Wisconsin leads the series with Hawaii 5-1, winning five straight. Five of the six meetings have been played in Honolulu.

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