RB P.J. Hill

2007 Statistics

Coach: Bret Bielema
21-5, 2 years
2007 Record: 9-4
at UNLV WON 20-13
IOWA WON 17-13
at Illinois LOST 26-31
at Penn State LOST 7-38
at Ohio State LOST 17-38
at Minnesota WON 41-34
Tennessee LOST 17-21

2007 Final Rankings
AP-24, Coaches-21, BCS-18

2008 Outlook

The Brett Bielema era will continue to place Wisconsin football amongst the nation’s elite programs. His 21 wins in his first two seasons are only bested in Big Ten annals by Michigan legend Fielding Yost (22), and Bielema’s 17-1 mark to begin his tenure is also second to Yost’s 55-0-1 start. He has never lost a game at Camp Randall (14-0). This is the third-youngest head coach in I-A, yet he has learned directly from such names as Hayden Fry, Kirk Ferentz, Bill Snyder and (his former boss and current A.D.) Barry Alvarez in his short career to hone his coaching abilities. A defensive specialist, Bielema has challenges on both sides of scrimmage (and on special teams) to overcome before he can entertain keeping the Badgers at this same lofty level.

The first thing is to secure the QB unit. OC Paul Chryst is also the QB coach, a convenient coincidence. Dual-threat senior Allan Evridge is the leading candidate to be under center come September after extensive development as a capable backup, but he will have to be solid to hold off true freshman Curt Phillips and pro-style hurler Dustin Sherer. This team needs a sound game manager since they will continue to throw it only 37% of the time. These are all talented kids, so it is just a matter of seeing which one can step into the role with the most promise for UW’s offense. Evridge will be top dog until/if that happens, giving confidence for the QBs not to be a liability.

P.J. Hill and other bulky backs definitely will pound the middle effectively, but few backs look like they can offer much change of pace, thus begging foes to bring extra hats into the box. Wisconsin will probably stay in the I-formation much of the time, but they need to join the 21st century and work in plays that operate out of spread formations. They have two hybrid TE-WR types (H-backs) who can put the Badgers in plenty of different formations to keep foes guessing as to play calls. Believe this – Wisconsin will not win the Big Ten again unless they break out of their tried-but-true molds on offense. Teams like Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State have enough talent such that their defenses will continue to handle UW if the Badgers don’t reinvent their offense for the modern era.

See, on defense, Bielema is trying to capacitate his guys much better to succeed against the spread so many others are utilizing. But enabling them isn’t easy if your own offense doesn’t use it much, meaning that his defense doesn’t get to practice against it enough to, in turn, know many trick on how to stop it. Still, we have a lot more confidence in Bielema to get this unit back to prominence than we do for Wisconsin to open up their offensive mindset…the scout team needs to explore that option. The limitations on D have to do with experience in the middle up front…there isn’t much. With so many teams in this league sure to pound it between the tackles until stopped, developments here are critical for UW to compete for a Big Ten title, let alone any BCS birth.

The DL has to gel quickly since it will be known by mid-October whether Wisconsin has any shot at that title; the conference slate kicks into high gear right away. The silver lining in their schedule is Ohio State, Penn State and Illinois all visit Madison. The Badgers have not played well in recent trips to the west coast, so the date out in Fresno against a tough Bulldog squad is no gimme with the new QB(s) sure to be unsettled still.

This is legitimate a top 25 team. They do have an outside chance to win the conference, but, more realistically, they will finish anywhere from second to fourth, again being exposed for their offensive shortcomings versus the league’s better run defenses. Can the new QBs then beat such foes with their arms? That will be the crux of the results and whether this team plays a bowl game this year or next. For a team that was 12-1 just a year ago, another three- or four-loss campaign has to be seen as a harbinger for change. Hopefully, it won’t come to that, but we get the feeling it will take another mediocre season to force UW to do what Ohio State, Michigan, and other classic running teams (Nebraska, Oklahoma) have done in modernizing their offensive approach. Expect more in ’09 and ’10, once the Badgers get some QB consistency.

Projected 2008 record: 9-3
QB - 3 DL - 4
RB - 4.5 LB - 4
WR - 3 DB - 3.5
OL - 4 ..
2007 Statistical Rankings
Total Off:
Sacks Allow:
Total Def:

Passing: Allan Evridge, 5-12-0, 66 yds., 0 TD

Rushing: P.J. Hill, 233 att., 1212 yds., 14 TD

Receiving: Travis Beckum, 75 rec., 982 yds., 6 TD

Scoring: P.J. Hill, 15 TD, 90 pts.

Punting: None

Kicking: None

Tackles: Jonathan Casillas, 96 tot., 57 solo

Sacks: Kirk DeCremer, 5.5 sacks

Interceptions: Shane Carter, 7 for 92 yds.

Kickoff Returns: David Gilreath, 42 ret., 23.0 avg., 0 TD

Punt Returns: David Gilreath, 26 ret., 14.0 avg., 0 TD


LB Jonathan Casillas

OFFENSE: Tyler Donovan-QB, Luke Swan-WR, Paul Hubbard-WR, Andy Crooks-TE, Marcus Coleman-C, Marcus Randle El-WR, Taylor Mehlhaff-K
DEFENSE: Nick Hayden-DT, Ben Strickland-CB, Ken DeBauche-P, Jack Ikegwuonu-CB (NFL)

Allan Evridge has been tutoring under departee Tyler Donovan since Evridge transferred from Kansas State in 2006. As a Wildcat, Evridge's dual-threat abilities translated better than the results reflect - he went 1-5 as a starter, but he was possibly seven points from being 4-2. Not bad for a freshman thrust into the spotlight, similar to how the Nebraska native will be the center of attention for hundreds of thousands of Badger fans expecting immediate results from him. Donovan was an efficient passer, but Evridge didn't complete even 50% of his tries in Manhattan. Still, Evridge is a size bigger and a step faster than his predecessor, so it will just take time until he has the offense down and can be coached up enough to maximize his evident talents. Slated as backup is Dustin Sherer, a RS soph who saw action briefly two years ago. Sherer at the helm would mean more conservative play-calling since he is a drop-back type. We therefore expect Curt Phillips to challenge for face-time since he is so highly touted (No.4 prospect this class - Rivals) and his insertion would mean fewer adjustments. A plus is, if well rehearsed, the change to a pro-style hurler in the midst of a game (Sherer) can often catch teams off guard...but it also can upset any flow UW may be trying to establish.

The backfield has bruiser P.J. Hill back and healthy, but keeping him that way for all 12 games (thigh bruise in '07 kept him from contributing in pivotal Ohio State, Michigan and Minnesota games) is a must for Wisconsin to stay competitive for the conference title. Hill's freshman campaign ranks as the seventh best all-time (I-A), so expectations are high. Zach Brown offers a size change, but he isn't much faster than Hill. It is important for this team to find a super-quick guy who can hit the hole. John Clay is sure to see reps, but he’s another sizable back who isn't (necessarily) about speed. This team will continue to pound the ball between the tackles with success (UW loves the I-formation), but if they are to evolve a spread look with the lateral abilities of their new QB (Evridge), faster RB options have to materialize.

When they do pass it, they need to revamp their role players. This team loves its tight ends - Garrett Graham and Travis Beckum are more like WR-TE hybrids who are often employed together in any given play. As the two most looked to receivers, this pair of 6'4 speedsters most often sends Garrett underneath and Beckum over the deep middle. Marcus Randle-El has quit playing football (knee injury), and with the loss of Hubbard and Swan, Kyle Jefferson is the lone returning WR with real game reps. Nick Toon (Al Toon's son) is on the roster, and Lance Kendicks also offers a level of quality that should buoy the corps. Time of possession was key for UW last year, but we expect they will not be able to keep their +5:27 advantage with so many new faces. This unit will start off slow and the playbook will open up as they progress.

The OL is a mix of experience and youth. Kraig Urbik and Eric Vandenheuvel have been playing together since prep (Hudson), but whether Urbik stays on the outside will decide where Vandenheuvel starts or not. Gabe Carimi is a team leader and a stanchion at left tackle, so UW is set on the outside, regardless. Inside, Andy Kemp and John Moffitt make consistent running lanes. All-around journeyman lineman Brad Thorson is a newbie slated for the center slot, and his ability to play anywhere on the OL will fill holes all year if/when injuries occur. Most of the two-deep is 300+lbs, making mobility a challenge. This is likely why UW remains a traditional running team, one that produces yards even when you know what they will likely do...run it right at you.


TE Travis Beckum


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Allan Evridge-Sr (6-2, 216) Dustin Sherer-Jr (6-4, 214)
FB Chris Pressley-Sr (6-1, 259) Bill Rentmeester-Sr (6-1, 248)
RB P.J. Hill-Jr (5-11, 228) Zach Brown-So (5-11, 212)
WR Kyle Jefferson-So (6-5, 176) Maurice Moore-So (5-11, 168)
Issac Anderson-So (5-11, 177)
WR David Gilreath-So (5-11, 154) Daven Jones-So (6-1, 192)
Nick Toon-Fr (6-3, 214)
TE Travis Beckum-Sr (6-4, 223) Garrett Graham-Jr (6-4, 241)
OT Gabe Carimi-So (6-8, 299) Jake Bscherer-Jr (6-7, 297)
OG Andy Kemp-Sr (6-6, 316) Jake Current-Fr (6-4, 277)
C John Moffitt-So (6-4, 317) Brad Thorson-So (6-4, 294)
OG Kraig Urbik-Sr (6-6, 328) Bill Nagy-So (6-4, 300)
OT Eric Vandenhuevel-Sr (6-7, 321) Josh Oglesby-Fr (6-7, 338)
K Philip Welch-Fr (6-3, 185) Matt Fischer-Jr (5-11, 181)



Seven senior starters return to get UW back to their top ten defensive ranking. The ends are special, two seniors who know how to contain as much as they know how to rush the QB. Matt Shaughnessy uses his 6'6 frame optimally, and Mike Newkirk is built better for plugging holes. As the two top Badgers in TFLs (28.5 combined), foes cannot double-team both...advantage Wisconsin. Soph Kirk DeCremer proved much worth as a frosh, and undeveloped depth is there (incoming four-star freshman Tyler Westphal) and should keep Shaughnessy and Newkirk fresh. Things are not as deep/solid in the middle, for only Jason Chapman has seen the field for significant time on gameday. Many are thinking Newkirk moves inside, a smart move until Jeffery Stehle an/or Brandon Hoey can prove worthy for the start. Foes will attack the middle until the tackles settle in and prove they should be avoided.

The LBs are not quite big enough to handle tough inside running teams like Ohio State, but each has the athleticism to allow him to move laterally and around blockers. Appropriately, WLB Jon Casillas, SLB Deandre Levy and MLB Elijah Hodge led the team in tackling, respectively. They all can tow the line, but it seems like their size (deficiencies) is (are) a major reason the defense fell from No.5 overall ranking to No.38. None of the latest linebacking prospects seems like any immediate upgrade, and with only four LB recruits in the past three classes, this unit could again become a liability. This is the Big Ten, so sizable LBs - somewhere on the depth chart - are a must. Sure, the argument can still be made that smaller LB-safety types allow a defense to match up on third, fourth and fifth receivers better, but at least one linebacker has to be big enough to hit the gaps/box when all of his compadres have to drop into coverage after being spread out and the play’s a run. New coordinator (used to be co-coordinator) Dave Doeren has to get this point, especially since he is the LBs coach, too.

The safeties, juniors Carter and Pleasant, get results but have not played at the same level. Shane Carter roams well (seven INTs led team and T-9th in the nation) and cleans up if needed; Aubre Pleasant needs to step it up at strong safety if UW is to give up less than 21 passing TDs. The CBs are also returning starters who have to share in some of the blame for the porous nature of the secondary...dropping from 2nd to 49th as a team was disappointing, at best. Senior Jack Ikegwuonu is all-conference with his 15 passes broken up, though, classmate Allen Langford consequently gets picked on a bit more and makes more tackles than big plays in coverage. Nickel back Aaron Henry had more tackles than either starting corner, and how he was left off of the Freshman All-American team is a mystery to us. Look for Henry to get lots of game time (if not the eventual start) with such efficient results.

The legacy of this team under now-A.D. Barry Alvarez was built upon solid defense, and that is what kept them in many games last year. This much experience under UW's strong leadership should return the Badger D back to its normal stout self.


DE Matt Shaughnessy


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE O'Brien Schofield-Jr (6-3, 238) Kirk DeCremer-So (6-5, 238)
DT Mike Newkirk-Sr (6-3, 261) Jeff Stehle-Jr (6-6, 290)
DT Jason Chapman-Sr (6-4, 285) Patrick Butrym-Fr (6-4, 264)
DE Matt Shaughnessy-Sr (6-6, 253) Dan Moore-Jr (6-2, 270)
SLB DeAndre Levy-Sr (6-3, 234) Blake Sorensen-So (6-1, 223)
MLB Elijah Hodge-Jr (6-1, 226) Culmer St. Jean-So (6-1, 229)
WLB Jonathan Casillas-Sr (6-2, 220) Jaevery McFadden-Jr (6-3, 220)
CB Allen Langford-Sr (5-11, 188) Mario Goins-Fr (6-1, 185)
CB Aaron Henry-So (6-0, 191) Niles Brinkley-So (5-10, 177)
SS Aubrey Pleasant-Jr (6-1, 197) Jay Valai-So (5-9, 200)
FS Shane Carter-Jr (6-2, 202) Chris Maragos-Jr (6-0, 189)
P Brad DeBauche-Fr (6-2, 210) Brad Nortman-Fr (6-3, 215)




RS frosh Philip Welch seems like logical choice at place kicker - his leg is better than Matt Fischer, though, Fischer is charted ahead of Welch at this juncture. The only punter on the roster is Brad Debauche, who has yet to prove he has the leg strength to achieve a 40+-yard average. The kicking game could cost UW in some closer contests. The return game should balance things out - David Gilreath secured both the PR and KR slots with a stellar showing as just a freshman. This WR should take at least one back to the house.