Thanks to a couple of Oregon defenders, Ricky Wagner and the rest of the Wisconsin offensive line have some bulletin board material.
I'm a firm believer that confidence will take you closer to where you want to be than most any other factor in life. That said, there is such a thing as too much confidence. It's a fine line, and you need to be able to walk it to reach your potential. Conversely, some members of Oregon's defense decided Tuesday to dance all over that line, and gave the Badgers' offensive line plenty of bulletin board material in doing so. Let's take a look at some of their comments.
"It's no concern," Oregon defensive end Terrell Turner said. "They are strong. We're going to be just as strong as them. Everyone always looks down on our D-line and we go in there and play as hard as we can."
This isn't a terrible start, but it might still raise some eyebrows. The boast about strength is understandable; you wouldn't expect him to say, "Yeah, they're stronger than us." But to express "no concern" whatsoever? Hmm.
"I'm not concerned at all," Oregon safety Eddie Pleasant said regarding defending Wisconsin's running game. "It's college football. We've played against big lines, big running backs the whole year."
Well, this one is a bit more troubling. Once again, the defensive player says he's "not concerned at all" with the Badgers' hulking offensive line and goes on to say the Badgers' power running game isn't anything special. I'll revisit and asses this claim a bit later.
"They're good," Remington said. "They finish blocks. But there are some pass protection issues."
Okay, I don't have a problem with this one because it's more or less true. The Badgers have struggled to protect Russell Wilson against top pass rush units all year. And to be fair, Isaac Remington (whom the previous quote was from), was very respectful in all of his quotes. The rest of the quoted Ducks, on the other hand ...
"We always play against big guys so I'm not really worried about it," he said. "I'm just going to play the same game I've played all year."
Once again, a not-so-subtle suggestion that Wisconsin's line isn't a concern for the Oregon defense (from Terrell Turner, this time). Let's take a look at some facts.
First of all, Oregon hasn't played against running game as decorated as Wisconsin's all season. Montee Ball, Peter Konz and Kevin Zeitler are all-Americans. Josh Oglesby was a first-team all-Big Ten honoree, and Ricky Wagner and Allen Frederick are no slouches, either.
Furthermore, Pleasant cited the claim that the Ducks had played against big lines all year as reasoning for his not being concerned with the Badgers offensive line. Though I don't have all the numbers in front of me, the biggest line Oregon faced all year was probably LSU's, which averages 315.2 pounds across. The Badgers' offensive line averages 322 pounds across, more than all but two college teams and all but two NFL teams. So no, Eddie, you haven't "played against big lines" all year. Not as big as Wisconsin's, at least. Oh, and Oregon lost to LSU, by the way.
I'm not saying the Badgers will win (Oregon's offense is pretty good too, it turns out), but I don't really think the Ducks will be able to stop Wisconsin's power running game. Only Ohio State held the Badgers under 100 rushing yards all season, and the Badgers had a season-low 29 attempts in that game. Additionally, the other three top-25 rushing attacks the Ducks have faced this season (LSU, Nevada and Stanford) averaged a whopping 195.7 rushing yards per game against them. The Badgers' run game averages 237.4 yards per game and ranks 11th in the nation.
It's tough to see why Turner and Pleasant are so confident in their ability to stop Wisconsin's running game in the face of such overwhelming evidence that suggests otherwise.
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