The University of Wisconsin football team is coming off a 10-win season, returns nine of 11 starters on what promises to be a potent offense and figures to claim a Top-15 preseason ranking when the national polls are unveiled.
Can the Badgers live up to those lofty expectations?
That's the underlying question that the Madison.com sports coverage team addresses in a 10-part series previewing the 2010 team.
Tom Mulhern has authored an inside look at a key theme in each position group, which will be unveiled daily on our website and in the Wisconsin State Journal leading into the opening of training camp.
The discussion is taken a step further in accompanying videos that feature roundtables with beat writers Mulhern and Jim Polzin and columnists Tom Oates and Mike Lucas, as well as interviews with key Badgers players.
We wrap up the series with a lengthy big-picture debate about UW's prospects of contending for a Big Ten Conference title and raising its profile nationally.
Here's a look at the schedule for the series:
Sunday, Aug. 1
• Quarterbacks: Senior Scott Tolzien is the incumbent starter after coming from nowhere to claim the job in 2009. With a sizable arsenal of playmakers, he is poised to build on last year's success.
Monday, Aug. 2
• Running backs: John Clay has made just nine career starts in his first two years at UW but his impact has been huge. Will offseason surgery to repair chronic pain in both ankles open the door to even greater accomplishments?
Tuesday, Aug. 3
• Receivers: After enduring growing pains at the position for several years, the Badgers have great promise in a group that features experienced upperclassmen such as Nick Toon, Isaac Anderson and David Gilreath.
Wednesday, Aug. 4
• Tight ends: Lance Kendricks has given every indication that he is the next in a long line of standout tight ends at UW, a key position in offensive coordinator Paul Chryst's schemes. But he's also the only proven player at the position.
Thursday, Aug. 5
• Offensive line: Former Monona Grove athlete Gabe Carimi headlines a talented group that features six players who started a game last season and returns all five incumbents.
Friday, Aug. 6
• Defensive line: J.J. Watt made a big splash in his first year at Wisconsin, but assumes a much weightier role this fall without sackmaster O'Brien Schofield at the other end spot, and with new starters plugging the middle.
Saturday, Aug. 7
• Linebackers: It was hard to miss Chris Borland last year as he streaked all over the field making highlight-reel plays, and Mike Taylor was leading the team in tackles before suffering a season-ending knee injury. But inside linebacker Culmer St. Jean's contributions shouldn't be overlooked.
Sunday, Aug. 8
• Defensive backs: For as much turnover as there is on the defensive line, there is uncertainty in the secondary. The Badgers return starters at three positions — including hard-hitting strong safety Jay Valai — but Aaron Henry is being asked to fill big shoes at free safety and the returning cornerbacks were inconsistent at best in 2009.
Monday, Aug. 9
• Special teams: After an impressive debut as a freshman, Philip Welch struggled mightily with his field-goal accuracy at times last season. What will it take for him to rebound?
Tuesday, Aug. 10
• Overview: Our UW football coverage team analyzes the factors that must play out for the Badgers to have a season that meets or exceeds expectations.