MADISON - Nick Toon would be the first to agree that his junior season hasn’t gone as perfectly as he planned. Wisconsin’s wide receivers would agree in reference to its production, too.
No. 7 Wisconsin (7-1, 3-1 Big Ten) is hoping for a big jump from the receivers in the final four games of the conference season, starting with its trip to Purdue (4-4, 2-2) on Saturday.
Toon looked like an All-Big Ten candidate during fall camp after he caught virtually everything thrown his way but hasn’t been the same since the season opener. Toon caught four passes for 54 yards in the win at UNLV, but suffered a turf toe injury on a catch along the sideline, an injury that sidelined him for the rest of the non-conference season.
Toon recovered enough to play the next three games, only to suffer a deep thigh bruise against Ohio State that kept him from competing against Iowa.
“I’ve had some of the flukiest injuries, but that’s just part of the game,” Toon said. “You have to do what you got to deal to get yourself healed up and back on the field.”
After practicing three times during the bye week, Toon proclaims himself at 100 percent and ready for the Boilermakers, who are ninth in the conference in pass defensive, giving up 229.2 yards per game. When Toon is healthy, it shows the junior is evolving. After grabbing a season-high six catches for 52 yards against Minnesota’s poor pass defense, he came back the next game with six more receptions for 72 yards in win over No. 1 Ohio State.
“He’s a big part of the offense,” senior quarterback Scott Tolzien said. “When he’s had the opportunities, he’s made the plays. I know down the road when the games get more important, he knows his number is going to be called and that he and the other receivers are going to get their opportunities.”
With or without Toon in the lineup, Wisconsin’s passing game hasn’t been up to the high level it was expecting at the outset of camp. With three senior wide receivers and Toon in the fray, Wisconsin’s six wideouts have caught 68 passes for 851 combined yards. The group has caught only one touchdown, and few would have predicted that player to be walk-on redshirt freshman Jared Abbrederis.
With the Badgers four remaining games coming against the four worst pass defenses in the conference, Toon knows the group can do more, and are anxious to prove so to make the offense even more explosive.
“I think we could have done more this year, but that’s the way things go,” Toon said. “Obviously, we can continue to improve and do more. We’ve had some success this year and we can build off. We’ve had success on the field, the team is winning games and that’s really what’s important when you look at it.
“But we can definitely improve in that area.”
Read more about the Badgers at Fox Sports Wisconsin