Wisconsin football: Badgers' balanced offense has Jonathan Taylor to thank
MADISON, Wis. — Running back Jonathan Taylor's production can have a trickle-down effect on Wisconsin's passing game, too.
Focus on stopping Taylor and efficient quarterback Alex Hornibrook is capable of making plays through the air.
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Illinois will try to stop the fifth-ranked Badgers (7-0, 4-0 Big Ten) this weekend.
No. 5 Wisconsin is one of only four teams to average 250 rushing yards and 200 passing yards per game this season.
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Taylor earned the Big Ten's Freshman of the Week award for the third straight week and fourth time overall after rushing for 126 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries against Maryland on Saturday. He leads the Big Ten in rushing and ranks third nationally at 158.9 yards per game.
"You do your part to get him a certain amount of yards and then he takes it from there," left tackle Michael Deiter said. "That's what you want in a running back. If we can get him six yards and he takes it for 60, that's a lot of fun for us."
Coach Paul Chryst said it was difficult to determine how opponents are reacting to Taylor's influence on the offense.
"You adjust accordingly. We've got to attack what (defenses) do and JT's been a big part of it," Chryst said. "For us to do what we do, he needs to continue to be that."
Taylor has also had an impact on the play of Hornibrook, who averages 205 yards passing per game and ranks sixth among Power Five quarterbacks in pass efficiency.
Hornibrook has completed 65.8 percent of his passes for 1,435 yards and 13 touchdowns. Although he has also thrown seven interceptions, the Badgers have won his last 13 starts, the nation's longest active win streak by a quarterback.
"But he works at it. I love that part about him. He's got poise, (and) he's got a ton," Chryst said.