MADISON - There are many ways to measure a quarterback – wins/losses, championships, yards – but as far as Russell Wilson is concerned, one of the best ways to measure a quarterback is his efficiency on the field.
If that’s the case, Wisconsin’s senior quarterback is on pace to be the best in NCAA history.
Leading No.15 Wisconsin to an 8-2 record and two wins away from the inaugural Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis Dec.3, Wilson leads the country with a pass efficiency rating at 201.6. It’s a mark that puts Wilson on pace to break Hawaii’s Colt Brennan’s NCAA record the NCAA record in pass efficiency.
“Passing efficiency is definitely something you want to be great at and have a high number in,” Wilson said Monday in preparation for the Badgers game at Illinois this Saturday. “That means the quarterback is completing a lot of passes, the average yard per play is pretty good and you are scoring a lot of touchdowns and your interceptions are down.
“I do believe it’s a significant number but at the same time, I have to keep competing every single day and perform on Saturdays.”
A perfect passer rating is 1,261.6, meaning every attempt it a 99-yard completion for a touchdown. The formula is (8.4 x yards) + (330 x TD) + (100 x completions) – (200 x interceptions) all of which is divided by the total number of attempts.
Needless to say, Wilson’s season numbers of completing 160-of-218 passes for 2,416 yards, 25 touchdowns and three interceptions have put him in position to etch his name in the NCAA’s book a number of times, as he is also on pace to break Brennan’s 9.2 yards per pass play mark (Wilson is averaging 9.9) and on pass to tie the yards per pass attempt with 11.1 (a record held by BYU’s Ty Detmer since 1989).
Other than stats, Wilson believes there is another way to measure the skills of a great signal caller.
“In my mind, it’s competing,” Wilson said. “When things aren’t going so well, when you are behind and you have to bring a team back, when it’s third down and 13 or third and seven or third and two, how is that quarterback going to get the first down. I think those three things – competing, competing on third down and in the red zone are the main things that a quarterback has to do to be successful.”
Oh yeah, Wisconsin ranks second in the country in third-down percentage, converting 56 percent of its third down attempts, and converted 47 of its 54 red zone attempts into touchdowns, leading the country with an 87 percent success rate.
From the Infirmary
After suffering a shoulder strain against Minnesota, Bielema expects sophomore Jared Abbrederis to return Wednesday or Thursday, but will be without center Peter Konz for 2-to-4 weeks after dislocating his left ankle in the second half.
Konz didn’t need surgery, but stayed in Minneapolis with UW and Minnesota medical staffs.
“They were trying to get that (ankle) back in there and for, lack of a better team, it wasn’t cooperating,” Bielema said. “They had to calm him down and it finally went back in. They did follow up tests Sunday and today and everything was very positive. Nothing was structurally damaged.”
The Konz injury gives sophomore Ryan Groy a chance to make an impact. Considered one of the more versatile players on UW’s offensive line, having started at fullback last year and starting at left guard in week 2 against Oregon State, the Badgers are planning on shifting positions or roles when dipping into their offensive line depth.
“I am extremely excited for Ryan,” Bielema said. “He’s been a very unselfish player. Does anything for the team, really backs up at both guard and center positions, does the (protection) on punt and a good kid that really wants the challenge.”
Just like Konz got his opportunity to shine after sophomore Travis Frederick went down with an ankle injury in 2010, Wilson thanks Groy could have a similar opportunity Saturday against Illinois.
“Konz is obviously a loss for us in terms of his ability, he’s one of the best centers in the country, but Groy is right behind him,” Wilson said. “I truly believe that. He has a lot of talent, is extremely athletic, something you notice in the weight room and in practice all the time (and) he’s intelligent in terms of the play calling. In terms of what he’ll be able to do on Saturday, I think he’ll be able to do everything that Konz can do. We’re excited for his opportunity. A star could be made, you never know.”
After not travelling with the team to Minneapolis, Bielema revealed that sophomore Manasseh Garner hasn’t been practicing after aggravating his groin and had a procedure this week to simulate the healing, a similar procedure to what freshman Melvin Gordon went through last month.
“They are going to run him (Monday) to see where he is at,” said Bielema, who also said a medical redshirt is not an option because Garner played after the team’s sixth game.
Bielema also said the coaches will have to make a decision this week on whether junior defensive end David Gilbert will take a medical redshirt after he broke his ankle before the team’s week 5 game against Nebraska.
“He just doesn’t have the ability at certain movements with that foot to be pain free,” Bielema said. “I definitely don’t want to put a kid out there that has a risk of trying to aggravate it again.”
Back on the Schedule
Illinois has been a foreign opponent to Wisconsin over the past three years, and the city of Champaign has been even less familiar. With the conference’s unbalanced scheduling, the Badgers haven’t played Illinois since 2008 (a 27-17 home victory) or on the Illini’s campus since 2007 (a 31-26 loss when UW was ranked No.5 in the country).
Now together in the Leaders Division, Bielema will have the opportunity to make a trip ‘home’ every other year.
“It’s always a special game for me being from Illinois,” said Bielema, who grew up in Prophetstown. “I grew up an Illinois fan a little bit growing up in my hometown. I visited their campus a number of times as a high school student athlete. It’s always special going over there. We haven’t played these guys in (three) years, so it’s nice to get them back on the radar.”
Depending on how one looks at the matchup, the Badgers will be facing an Illini team that has lost four straight games after starting the season 6-0, two of which have been by one score or less. The challenge for Bielema this week if familiarizing his team with an opponent only a handful of seniors has ever played against.
“It’s a little bit different and in that time, (Illinois coach) Ron (Zook) has changed both coordinators,” Bielema said. “They are a (considerably) different team schematically. That presents a challenge and when you play a team this late in the year, a lot of times there is a tremendous amount of change from game three to game 10. It’s always a challenge and a task.”
Wilson on who he would vote for if he had a Heisman vote
“I probably would have to vote for Montee. He’s my teammate. He’s the man. Money ball I guess they call him.”
Extra Points: Wisconsin’s regular season finale against Penn State (8-2, 5-1 Big Ten) will kick off at 2:30 p.m. CT on either ABC or ESPN … The UW coaches gave co-offensive MVP honors to Ball and Wilson, co-defensive MVP honors to Mike Taylor and Antonio Fenelus and scout team defensive MVP to Jake Keefer. Bielema did not announce a winner for special teams or scout team offense … Sophomore tight end Jacob Pedersen was named Monday as a semifinal for the Mackey Award, given to the top tight end in the country.
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