Badger Bits: Did the Oregon defenders have a point?

Oregon defenders sparked a minor outrage, saying that they were not concerned about Wisconsin's big offensive line. Their numbers this season suggest that they may have a point.

Yesterday's article out of The Oregonian had everyone all up in a tizzy yesterday. In it, a few Oregon defenders let slip that they had "no concern" for Wisconsin's big offensive line, and cited the Badgers' weakness in pass protection. At first I was like "nuh uh!" but after a second glance I get that these guys are probably sick of hearing about Wisconsin's front wall of free-range hippos, and wanted to let people know that they aren't so bad themselves. And they really aren't so bad.

The Ducks faced six teams ranked in the Top 60 in the country in rushing offense: Nevada (8), LSU (17), Stanford (22), UCLA (30), Cal (48) and USC (57). In four out of those six games the Ducks held their opponents to well less than their yearly per-carry average. LSU excelled out of non-conference play, averaging 5.0 yards per touch against the vaunted defenses of the SEC. The Ducks held the Tigers to just 3.7 YPC in the season opener, just a tick more than the 3.6 that Alabama allowed. Stanford, UCLA and USC were were all held to over a yard less than their yearly YPC. This is a concern, dude.

What about the outliers? Hard to say, considering Nevada and Cal were never in contention in either game. Still, you have to believe that people got chewed out for giving up 283 yards on the ground to the Wolfpack. Against the Bears, Isi Sofele reeled off runs of 34 and 25 yards on his way to 119 yards for the day. He coulda/shoulda had more but he ran the ball just twice in the second half, finishing the game with 12 carries. Sofele definitely fits the speedster mold, and Nevada runs the pistol, a.k.a., the same offense Wisconsin was completely unprepared for in the season opener. Without actually having seen either game, I'd say there could be something to Oregon being weak on the edges--it'd make sense considering their two-gap, 3-4 scheme seems predicated on making the middle of the field a wasteland.

The conclusion here is that there is reason for Oregon's front seven to feel slighted. Of course, the Ducks haven't seen an offense that takes running the ball as seriously as Wisconsin does. The Badgers faced All-American defensive linemen against Penn State, Michigan State and Illinois, and Montee Ball overran them all when he had the chance. The proof will be in the pudding come Jan. 2. Until then, enjoy the rest of the news-hole induced wildfires sure to spring up over the next couple weeks.

Thursday's Links:

A breezy explanation of a two-gap defense from Georgia Tech blog From The Rumble Seat.

Kevin Zeitler and Montee Ball get tabbed as AP first-team All-Americans. Peter Konz made the second team.

Zeitler was also invited to the 2012 Senior Bowl, along with Russell Wilson and Nick Toon.

Bret Bielema is the Byronic Man (via EDSBS).

LaMichael James will be joining the professional ranks once the Rose Bowl is through. I respect and support any decision you make Montee ... but it is technically one more body clogging the draft pool. No pressure. Sorry.

An incredibly thorough recap of the 2000/2001 home-and-home series between the Badgers and Ducks. It's long and well worth every minute of your time (via FishDuck).

Spencer Hall pays fitting tribute to Ball's run to the Heisman trophy presentation in this week's Alphabetical. C is for Consolation:

The five people nominated for the Heisman Trophy each possess as much athletic ability as five normal men. The things they can do with their bodies and a ball would shock even the dancers and amateur marks-ladies of Patpong. Montee Ball is sitting there in fifth place, and I am all but sure Montee Ball could beat you in anything including H.O.R.S.E., paper football, cornhole, Skee-Ball, toe-wrestling, cribbage, sepak takraw, chess-boxing, and math. (Math isn't a sport, but it should be, because that would mean way more groupies for Neil deGrasse Tyson.) Montee Ball is an incredible athlete, and an amazing football player, and he's the caboose choking on all the exhaust way back there at the end of the train.

Looking to next year, James White comes in 14th in College Football News' 2012 Heisman look.

... aaaaand they're gone. The athletic department has sold out its entire allotment of Rose Bowl tickets.

Wrapping up: You're welcome Neil Diamond.

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