No. 9 Wisconsin looks to fine-tune with Georgia State next
MADISON, Wis. (AP) Wisconsin would like to develop some passing options to complement its running game.
With Big Ten play looming, the ninth-ranked Badgers' matchup on Saturday against Georgia State serves as the final nonconference tuneup for first-year starting quarterback Bart Houston and a receiving corps looking to provide balance on offense.
''If we continue to improve on the offensive line, and the tight ends, fullbacks, we've got a chance. If we improve on our route-running and throwing, location ... we've got a chance,'' coach Paul Chryst said. ''So I wouldn't limit this group, but we've got to get better.''
Wisconsin (2-0) could get an opportunity to get in some valuable work in the passing game against the Panthers this weekend at Camp Randall Stadium. Georgia State (0-2) is coming off a 48-14 loss at Air Force in Week 2.
That defeat left Georgia State coach Trent Miles steaming mad this week.
''We were horrible,'' Miles said. ''We didn't play good football - fundamentals and basics of blocking and tackling, kicking and throwing and catching.''
It probably won't get any easier on Saturday.
Chryst had his team focused and prepared in Week 2 in a 54-10 win over Akron. Houston, a senior, was 15 of 22 for 231 yards with two scores. He shook off a couple questionable throws for near-picks and showed off his strong right arm.
The goal is for Houston to keep developing into a threat who can make defenses think twice about stacking the box to stop top running back Corey Clement.
''Just opens up the defense, keep them on their toes,'' receiver Jazz Peavy said . ''You don't know who's going to be doing what.''
Other notes and things to watch as Wisconsin goes for a 37th straight win in a nonconference home game:
CLEMENT TIME: The senior was added to the injury report on Thursday as questionable after he rolled his left ankle late in the second quarter of last week's victory over the Zips. Chryst said Clement practiced on Monday but hadn't done much more through the week. With a trip to No. 12 Michigan State coming up on Sept. 24, don't be surprised if Clement sits. Sophomore Taiwan Deal and freshman Bradrick Shaw should get valuable snaps, though senior Dare Ogunbowale figures to get the start.
JAZZ HANDS: Peavy had a breakout game last week with seven catches for 100 yards and two scores from Houston. Senior receiver Robert Wheelwright is off to a good start, too, with eight catches for a team-high 159 yards over his first two games. In the season-opening victory over LSU, tight end Troy Fumagalli had the big day with seven catches for 100 yards. If the receivers keep developing with Houston, the passing game will have three legitimate options for the first time in a few years.
MILES FROM WISCONSIN: Georgia State's head coach has some experience in Wisconsin after having served as an offensive assistant for the NFL's Green Bay Packers. At Georgia State, Miles heads a program that is just in its fourth year as an FBS school.
PANTHERS D: Georgia State has experience on defense, listing six seniors and three juniors as starters. The bad news for the defense is that it has allowed 789 yards rushing and nine touchdowns on 135 carries through two games against Ball State and option-oriented Air Force. Wisconsin should be able to run the ball even without Clement.
BADGERS D: The left leg injury that Natrell Jamerson suffered in the win over Akron means that the Badgers must find a new third cornerback. After starters Sojourn Shelton and Derrick Tindal, junior Lubern Figaro is the next most experienced player on the depth chart. The possibility of promising freshman Caesar Williams seeing action for the first time this year at corner disappeared after he was ruled out on Thursday with a left leg injury.
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