It's condition critical at defensive tackle with Jason Chapman and Mike Newkirk gone. Just two tackles with any experience are back: Patrick Butrym and Jeff Stehle. Central Michigan transfer J.J. Watt figures to win one tackle spot. The search is on to find his counterpart. An inability to recruit quality tackles the past three years could prove costly. Wisconsin also needs two new starting linebackers and three new starting offensive linemen.
Keep an eye on
RB John Clay: With P.J. Hill off early to the NFL, Clay will get the bulk of the carries after a solid debut as a redshirt freshman in 2008.
LB Blake Sorensen: The departures of DeAndre Levy and Jonathan Casillas mean Sorensen – a junior – needs to come up big. He was considered the team's No. 4 linebacker in 2008. Now, he needs to become a big-time starter on the strong side or weakside.
DT J.J. Watt: He was named the scout team defensive player of the year while sitting out 2008 after his transfer from Central Michigan. Watt needs to be a star on the line if the defense hopes to shine.
His time is now
Free safety Shane Carter played below expectations last fall and ultimately was benched halfway through the season and replaced by walk-on Chris Maragos. It's now or never for Carter, a senior who has the skills to be an all-league performer.
Who will be the quarterback? Spring practice will open with five candidates. That number will be pared down by the end of spring drills, but the competition likely will continue into the fall. No doubt, a largely ineffective corps of wide receivers figures to improve if the Badgers get more consistent quarterback play.