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January 9, 2014

Report Card: Tight Ends





Wisconsin's 2013 football season is in the books, so it's time to pass out our position grades after the Badgers finished the year 9-4 with a 34-24 loss to South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl.

Wisconsin's tight ends are up next after the wide receivers fell a little short of their preseason hopes. Our grades for Jacob Pedersen, Brian Wozniak, Sam Arneson and the rest are included below.

John Veldhuis: On the whole I expected Wisconsin's tight ends to be a little more involved in Andy Ludwig's offense, who said in the spring that he loves using that position group in the passing game. Pedersen was the obvious heavy hitter, catching a career-high 39 passes for 551 yards and 3 touchdowns in his last year on campus. But Wozniak, Arneson, and the other tight ends combined to catch just 13 passes, which is a little disappointing for a position group that the coaches touted as their "deepest" in the pre-season. The tight ends blocked well for Melvin Gordon and James White on the ground, but I expected to see a little more production out of Arneson and even Brock DeCicco, considering how thin the Badgers were at wide receiver.

Grade: B-

Jon McNamara: Tight end was arguably the deepest and most experienced group at the start of the fall. At the end of the 2013 season, Jacob Pedersen was second on the team in receptions (39) and receiving yardage (551), while Sam Arneson and Brian Wozniak added six receptions apiece. Considering the weakness at wide receiver all fall, however, it's surprising this unit wasn't more productive. Was quarterback Joel Stave or offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig to blame? That question is up in the air but with the graduation of Pedersen, Wozniak and Brock DeCicco, the next wave of tight ends - Austin Traylor, Austin Maly and Eric Steffes -- will get an opportunity to improve on those numbers in 2014.

Grade: B

Jon Gorman: All and all it was a very average year for Wisconsin's tight ends. Pedersen and Wozniak are an excellent blocking duo, but they combined for only 45 catches over the course of the season. The seven combined touchdowns was a nice boost, but Pedersen never really emerged as a legitimate secondary receiver, and Wozniak was little threat as a pass catcher. Look for a combination of Sam Arneson, Austin Traylor, Austin Maly and Eric Steffes to step up next season in an effort to provide more of a game-changing threat to Wisconsin's passing game.

Grade: B

Zack Miller: Jacob Pedersen was second on the team in receptions (39) and receiving yards (551) while coming in third in receiving touchdowns (3). Brian Wozniak was second on the team in receiving touchdowns and (4) played a vital role in the Badgers' blocking schemes. Bottom line: it was a good year, but not a great year. Next season, the Badgers' TE group of Sam Arneson, Austin Traylor, and others will have to bring their A games in order to ensure that whoever is taking snaps under center does not have to rely solely on an inexperienced WR group to make his job more manageable.

Grade: B-

Previous installments:

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers

For more Wisconsin Badgers news, notes and discussion, follow John on Twitter.


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