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Replay and React: The good and bad from Saturday's win


Finally!  For the first time since their win over Marshall in the second game of the 2008 season, the Badgers looked dominant against a team they should always dominate.  This one was over by halftime despite a sloppy start for Wisconsin that featured penalties and turnovers.  Wofford simply could not move the ball on the Badgers' starting defensive unit and that led to a resounding 44-14 Wisconsin victory.

It is difficult to draw any major conclusions from this type of game, which is one of the disadvantages of scheduling an FCS opponent heading into Big Ten play.  Nonetheless, there were some things that stood out.

The Good

Quarterbacks - Scott Tolzien completed 75 percent of his passes for the second time in three weeks.  The redshirt junior continued to display the same accuracy and decision-making ability that has led to the Badgers' 3-0 start.  Most importantly, on a day when the running backs and wide receivers could not seem to hold onto the football, Tolzien did not throw an interception.  Curt Phillips saw some time late, significant when considering how reluctant head coach Bret Bielema has been in the past to use his backup quarterbacks, even in garbage time.  He rushed for 92 yards and completed a nice pass while running to his right.

Secondary - The Terriers finished with 45 passing yards and did not have any at halftime.  While they only put the ball up seven times, the defensive backs did a good job in coverage and in backing up the front seven in run support, preventing big plays for the most part.  Devin Smith recorded a nice interception in the Wisconsin end zone in the fourth quarter, giving him a much needed injection of confidence.

Tight ends - Lance Kendricks appears to be fully recovered from the nasty leg injury that knocked him out of the Michigan State game last season.  Kendricks had a breakout game, catching six balls for 70 yards and a touchdown.  His size and speed provide a nice complement to the pass-catching ability of Garrett Graham, who also caught a touchdown and continues to have a fine season.

The Bad

Running backs - Despite finishing with 258 team rushing yards, the running backs unit left a lot to be desired Saturday.  92 of the yards came from backup quarterback Curt Phillips, making him the leading rusher.  The fact that Wisconsin did not have a 100-yard runner against a pathetic FCS defense is a bit disheartening.  More importantly, the Badgers lost three fumbles and newly anointed starter John Clay again moved laterally too much instead of down the field.

Special teams - Penalties, fumbles, a missed extra point and more perplexing decisions by return man David GilreathChris Borland and David Gilbert combined on a nice play, blocking a Wofford punt and recovering the ball in the end zone for a touchdown.  But outside of that, the special teams unit, led by Bielema, continues to be unimpressive.

Appeal - An 11 a.m. game against an FCS opponent on a Jewish holiday is not exactly a recipe for an attendance record.  Still, the announced crowd of 78,253 was one of the smallest in recent memory and it was clear that plenty of students sat this one out.  While the fans who were at Camp Randall Stadium were characteristically spirited, it was disappointing to see empty seats.  You can't blame fans for staying home and you can't blame the university for embracing what has become a trend in major college football by putting one FCS team on the schedule.  It is one of many unfortunate byproducts of the BCS.  Still, the game is over, the victory is in the books and the place will be rocking when Michigan State comes to town Saturday.

 

-Jake Harris