Written by Cody Manning, @CodyTalksNFL
The Wisconsin Badgers opened up their season on the road in Tampa against the University of South Florida Bulls. I had the pleasure of attending the matchup to do some live scouting for Blitzalytics. While I saw some good players on the field, there was one prospect that stole the show. The Badgers season is going to ride on the shoulders on their featured back, Jonathan Taylor, and they showcased him all night in Raymond James. He was able to showcase his vision, power, balance, explosion, and his pass-catching ability that some questioned heading into the season.
On the opening drive of the game, Wisconsin did what they do best: run the ball, which they did the first five plays of the game. After a couple of Jack Coan completions, Taylor took advantage of some solid blocking, jump cut into the open hole and exploded for his touchdown (37-yard) of the game. This was a picture-perfect drive for their offense to start the game.
The Badgers continued to bully USF with their ground game and caught them off guard when they ran a quick screen to Taylor. He took advantage of catching the defense sleeping and using his blocks to his advantage to sprint down the sideline 36 yards for his second touchdown of the night.
Up 21-0, Wisconsin started at their own 20-yard line with 5:05 left on the clock. After slowly chipping away down the field and the clock, they managed to work their way into the redzone. With eight seconds left in the half and no timeouts left at the Bulls’ 12-yard line, the Badgers decided to take a shot on the touchdown over settling for a field goal. Coan threw Taylor the ball at the 5-yard line, he caught it, turned and powered his way through two defenders while stretching out to get his third touchdown of the night.
Taylor started the second half of the game where he left off in the first. After starting Wisconsin’s first drive of the half with a 17-yard run, he had his most impressive run of the night one play later on a 38-yard touchdown. He utilized his vision by finding the correct lane for him to squeeze his body through while keeping his balance so he could sprint his way to the endzone. A perfect way for him to cap his night.
Taylor finished with 183 total yards and four touchdowns, averaging 8.4 yards YPC on 16 touches. He did all this with 13 minutes left in the 3rd quarter. This was a great start to what should be a Heisman campaign. It will get a lot more difficult when he faces familiar faces in the Big 10, but he started in the right direction. With a solid season by his team and he continues at this pace, he has a chance to hold prestigious trophy of college football.
Lastly, Taylor showed he has the ability to catch the ball and be a threat, and it appears that Paul Chryst wants to show the NFL scouts that his back can do anything they require. If he continues to add that to his tape throughout the season, he should get locked as a first round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.