Dienhart: Q&A with Wisconsin WR Jared Abbrederis

The Wisconsin offense has had its ups and downs this season. It’s no secret. Wideout Jared Abbrederis knows it. But the unit may be coming to life after a solid effort in a 31-14 victory vs. Illinois last week that saw the Badgers notch 427 yards.

Abbrederis and his offensive counterparts will do their part to keep the offense moving forward with a big game at Purdue this Saturday that will go a long way toward determining pecking order in the Leaders Division.

The junior has 27 catches for 516 yards and a Big Ten-high five touchdowns—all team-leading totals for the 4-2 Badgers. He has done that in just five games, as Abbrederis missed the Utah State game with a concussion and chest injury in a 10-7 loss at Oregon State.

Abbrederis is on a roll, notching over 100 yards receiving in each of the last three games: 147 vs. UTEP; 142 at Nebraska; 117 vs. Illinois, making a combined 20 catches in those game with three scores for an offense that ranks last in the Big Ten (328.8 ypg) and just ninth in scoring (24.0 ppg).

Abbrederis doubles as a deadly return man, as he holds the school record for career kickoff return average (25.8) and ranks second in career punt return average (12.9). Abbrederis has one punt return for a touchdown, coming in 2011.

He’s fifth in the Big Ten in punt returns this season, averaging 7.9 yards per return.

Abbrederis, a 6-2, 188-pound product of Wautoma, Wisc., emerged last year as a go-to wideout for the Badgers during their second consecutive run to a Big Ten championship. He caught 55 passes for a team-high 933 yards (17.0 ypc) to go along with eight touchdowns. Abbrederis entered the season ninth on Wisconsin’s all-time receiving yards list with 1,479, coming on 88 catches with 14 scores. Not bad for a guy who began his career in Madison as a spread quarterback on the scout team before earning a scholarship in January 2012.

I caught up with Abbrederis after practice on Tuesday to get his thoughts on a variety of subjects as he prepped to play at Purdue.

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Q: Are you pleased with your development this season?
A: I have done some good things. The coaches have put me in some good situations. And the rest of the team has been playing well. I’m really excited with what I have been able to do. But it’s not all about me. We have to be able to win some games. And we have won a couple. We have to keep that up.

Jared Abbrederis

US Presswire

Q: What one aspect of your game have you been most pleased with?
A: My route technique. Our receivers coach (Zach Azzanni) has been working with me on that. I have been able to run more crisp routes. And I have been able to get out of my breaks quicker.

Q: You guys made a switch at quarterback, with redshirt freshman Joel Stave taking over for Maryland transfer Danny O’Brien. Talk about Stave’s development.
A: He has good poise in the pocket. He will sit in there until the receiver gets open. He isn’t afraid to take a hit. We don’t want him to take too many hits. But he shown good poise in the pocket. He is doing well.

Q: Are you pleased with where the offense is? The rushing attack is just 11th in the Big Ten (133.5 ypg), while the passing game is 10th (195.3 ypg).
A: We had a bunch of new coaches and players step in. So, we had some growing pains. But I am pleased with what we have done. That’s all in the past and we have to keep practicing and getting better each day.

Q: Does the offense have some momentum going into Purdue?
A: Definitely. We played well the last game and we have to keep it going. Hopefully we can put together a four-quarter game.

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Q: What do you think of the Purdue cornerbacks Josh Johnson and Ricardo Allen? Some think those two are NFL prospects.
A: They are great cornerbacks and I am looking forward to the challenge. They play well, and they play hard. It will be a good challenge for us.

Q: Take me into your playbook. What is your favorite route?
A: I like any route, any route where I can get the ball. I like going deep, obviously. But there are some fun shorter routes, too.

Q: Among the Badger receivers, who has the best hands?
A: Besides me? (laughs) I think they all have good hands. Chase (Hammond) has done well. He basically catches everything on his body. We work on catching the ball each day. So, a lot of us are confident in catching the ball. That’s the main thing—being confident. You can’t doubt yourself when the ball is in the air. You have to zone everything out and zone in on the ball.

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Q: How important is it for a Badger receiver to block?
A: It is really important. Not only does that set up the play-action passes, but it gives the running backs an opportunity to break a long run. And running the ball is something we pride ourselves on. Nothing has changed this year. We are just trying to improve that.

Q: Did you envision having this kind of career when you arrived on campus?
A: I had confidence once I got here. Glory to God, it’s not me doing it but him working through me. So, I can’t take credit for that. It has been a fun ride. And I’m looking forward to getting better each day and I have that drive and desire to get better.

BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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