Another week, another battle in the trenches for the Wisconsin Badgers.
Facing a stiff BYU defense, many thought the Badgers would quickly find themselves in a stiff battle at Camp Randall Stadium. But with a solid, balanced first half put together by quarterback Joel Stave, running back James White and the offense, including another impressive two-minute drill at the end of the second quarter, the Badgers were able to pound the ball in the second half en route to a 27-17 victory.
||1||15||16||Stave: 13-of-15, 1 TD|
|Total 1st half:||21||22||43||2|
|Total 2nd half:||23||11||34||1|
Total plays: 77
Fun with numbers
425: Total yards gained by Wisconsin
5.5: Yards per play against BYU
5.7: Yards per play against Iowa
3: Touchdowns by White (two rushing, one receiving)
22: Rushing touchdowns combined by White and Gordon this season
49: Yards needed by White to surpass 1,000 this season
8: Catches by wide receiver Jared Abbrederis
12: Catches by Badgers excluding receivers
229: Total rushing yards by Wisconsin
106: Rushing yards in the first half for Wisconsin
123: Rushing yards in the second half for Wisconsin
2: Number of turnovers by Wisconsin
7-of-17: Wisconsin's third-down conversion rate
1: Number of sacks given up by Wisconsin
36:02: Time of possession for Wisconsin
3-of-5: Red-zone conversions by Wisconsin into touchdowns
2: FIELD GOALS BY JACK RUSSELL
What went right
1. James White. For most of White's career, he's played second fiddle to other well-known Badgers running backs. In 2010 as a true freshman, he backed up John Clay. In 2011 and 2012, Montee Ball received the bulk of the carries. This season, with the emergence of Melvin Gordon in yet another a year where someone else has stepped into the spotlight, White has shown he deserves to be at the forefront. With 147 yards on the ground and 47 yards receiving Saturday, White is not only the most complete back currently in the Wisconsin program, but he might just be the most complete back in Wisconsin football history. Why do I say that? Because he can run, catch passes and block in pass protection. He's proven capable at picking up opposing defenses' blitzes time and time again, and NFL teams will love that next season.
GA: 'James White is playing at a high, high level.'— Benjamin Worgull (@TheBadgerNation) November 10, 2013
2. Jacob Pedersen becoming the No. 2 receiving option. Pedersen's been on a roll since returning from a knee injury. His six receptions Saturday continues a stretch where he's been a popular target of Stave's (White has also stepped up in this regard as well, as he caught six passes). Of Stave's 23 completions, only eight were into the hands of Abbrederis, and while that's still a high percentage (a little over a 30 percent), it's a better ratio than what was seen earlier in the season. He might not be another "home run threat" -- he did reel in a 44-yard touchdown reception at Iowa one week ago -- but Pedersen has the blocking and catching skills that will get him some playing time on Sundays next season.
Great win, against a great opponent last night. I'll tell ya what tho, I am sore this morning!!!!! #Badgers— Jacob Pedersen (@j_ped48) November 10, 2013
3. Two-minute drill at the end of the first half. We've seen this before, but Stave seems to thrive in an up-tempo, shotgun-based look with limited time remaining in the second quarter. With the score just 10-3 and 2:22 remaining in the half, UW's offense drove 65 yards in 11 plays, culminating with Stave hitting White for a 5-yard touchdown reception.
4. Long drives and time-of-possession dominance. Four of Wisconsin's five scoring possessions lasted at least 10 plays, with the shortest of those spanning 63 yards. The Badgers dominated time of possession in the first three quarters, ending the game with over 36 minutes of holding the ball. UW ran 77 plays, almost beating BYU's of 81.
What went wrong
1. Turnovers. The two turnovers only led to three BYU points, but in a tight game, losing the turnover battle could eventually prove key. The fumble by Doe turned back the momentum after an interception by safety Tanner McEvoy put Wisconsin in BYU territory. The interception by Van Noy was a pass that deflected off of Pedersen's hands, and the linebacker caught the ball before it hit the ground.
2. No fly sweeps. I shouldn't say this is something that went wrong, necessarily, but the variations of the fly sweep, whether out of 22 or 31 personnel, I-formation or single back, have been used as decoys for either the zone runs or play-action. You did not see one run Saturday, but teams still respect it and it's opened up other plays -- not just in this game, but for others throughout the season.
Wisconsin stays at home next Saturday against Indiana and its 120th FBS-ranked defense (in total yards), giving up 519 yards of offense per game and over 217 on the ground (108th among FBS teams). The "U Dub Step" may be in full effect when the Hoosiers come to town.