Badgers regroup at halftime to beat Purdue
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Good thing Bret Bielema changed his jacket at halftime.
That's one adjustment the Badgers head coach made halfway through Wisconsin's 34-13 win at Purdue Saturday.
The Badgers were outplayed and out-schemed in the first half by the Boilermakers and trailed 10-6 going into the locker room after Philip Welch salvaged a field goal for Wisconsin as time ran out.
"At halftime we just came in and regrouped," Bielema said. "I changed my jacket. I got upset about that and was convinced. So I took the other one off and put this one back on. I think we just wanted to take a different approach to the second half."
Of course the Badgers didn't win because Bielema changed his jacket, but he probably mentioned the jacket because they didn't really have to change too much. Wisconsin just needed to come out with a new attitude.
Sure, the offensive line adjusted to some looks John Moffitt admitted they didn't see on film before the game and the defense used their 3-3-5 shell less in the second half, but more importantly, the Badgers just came out of the locker room and made plays in the second half.
That started with senior linebacker Culmer St. Jean who picked off Purdue quarterback Sean Robinson on the Boilermakers' first drive of the second half. Scott Tolzien followed up with a 7-yard touchdown pass to Jared Abbrederis and gave the Badgers a 13-10 lead it would never relinguish.
"(Defensive coordinator Dave Doeren and Bielema) stressed that the seniors have to make plays and take care of the team ... so I was just trying to be optimistic and make a play," St. Jean said.
From there, the offensive line opened up more holes for Montee Ball who received the bulk of the carries Saturday after John Clay left the game with an ankle injury. Ball rushed for 121 yards and two touchdowns on the day.
The defense didn't let up either. Purdue only scored three points in the second half and turned the ball over three more times, including a 36-yard interception return for a touchdown by Antonio Fenelus.
Caught off guard
From the opening kickoff, it was obvious the Boilermakers caught the Badgers off guard. And by opening kickoff, I mean opening kickoff.
This time Wiggs sent the ball downfield and the Badgers started with the ball.
Jay Valai said after the game that he tore the "top of his calf muscle" during the bye week and played through the pain Saturday. It was clearly bothering him in the first half and the coaches pulled him in favor of Shelton Johnson late in the second quarter. Valai convinced the coaches to let him play in the second half and he finished the game with four tackles and one tackle for loss.
J.J. Watt injured his shoulder in the first half and said it "clicked in and out." He was limited a little bit the rest of the way, but still played most of the game, recording one sack and two tackles for loss.
"I'm feeling pretty good now. Still got a little bit of adrenaline going right now so we'll see tomorrow, but I don't see it holding me out at all in the future," Watt said.
Clay went down with an apparent ankle injury in the third quarter and did not return. It does not appear to be a serious injury.
Peter Konz reaggravated the right ankle he injured against Ohio State and left the field in a boot with crutches.