Badger Bits: Wisconsin Takes Baby Steps Toward Respectability

Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Wisconsin isn't where it should be, but the Badgers are slowly getting there. If fans are willing to be patient, they could be formidable by season's end. Just remember: Baby steps.

Yeah it was ugly for a bit, but how nice was it to not spend the final minutes of the fourth quarter in brooding introspection or chewing your fingertips as the Badgers narrowly escaped teams formerly known as cream puffs? Believe it or not, this team is getting better. The offensive line wore down an opposing defensive front, not vice versa, for the first time this season, paving the way for an 11-carry, 97-yard fourth quarter from Montee Ball. Joel Stave continues to look as good as we could have possibly hoped from a redshirt freshman and the defense patiently gave a stifling performance while the offense got on track.

They're still not where we hoped they would be, but baby steps people.

We could all learn a valuable lesson from Bob here. Baby steps past Northern Iowa. Baby steps fire Mike Markuson. Baby steps start Joel Stave. Baby steps through the second half against Nebraska and Matt Canada never doing that again. Baby steps make Montee Ball look like Montee Ball. Baby steps beat Illinois and hopefully Purdue, too. Then Indy and maybe even roses. Baby steps.

If there is one thing Wisconsin has, it's time. With Penn State and Ohio State out of the postseason picture, Wisconsin can beat Purdue (coming off a drubbing at home at the hands of Michigan) and spend the rest of the season hopefully getting past the long initiation process between players and a new offensive coaching staff. Beat Purdue, and Wisconsin suddenly finds itself in an enviable position with a Championship Game spot all but secured and nothing to lose heading into the meaty back half of the schedule. There is time for this offense to jell into a consistent points machine, and the defense may just be able to carry the team in the mean time. The flashes of potential are there, and Penn State and Ohio State are the last two games of the season, after all.

But beat Purdue, of course. Baby steps.

Monday's Links

First things first, the deal with Jared Berggren's walking boot: It's precautionary, won't miss practice, all is well.

Game notes from the State Journal and Journal Sentinel. Dave Heller compiled all of the necessary statistical minutiae.

Kyle Costigan is expected to return this week. If healthy, he will start at right guard ahead of Zac Matthias.

Wisconsin's running game is starting to show shades of the three-headed attack from 2010. Bret Bielema finally paid more than lip service to getting James White and Melvin Gordon more involved.

The Curt Phillips cameo was weird and probably a bad idea, but it was great seeing him on the field again.

But for real, a zone-read package? Let's work that out in April, not midseason.

Badgers Roundtable is back with plenty of checked optimism this week.

The defense came away proud of its four-quarter performance.

Devin Smith ends UW's no-interception streak.

So much for easing Shelton Johnson back onto the field.

The State Journal shames the student section's turnout:

Thumbs down

UW students: A lot of them have gone from showing up late to not showing up at all. Huge sections in Section O and Section P were unfilled.

Gross.

Wrapping up: The Ohio State marching band did an amazing tribute to video games, and that's the last nice thing I'll say about the Buckeyes this season, I promise.

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