The Wisconsin Badgers (8-2, 5-1), since the start of the Barry Alvarez era in 1990, has utilized those who, as former head coach Bret Bielema once told me, were "undersized, under-developed, and under-recruited." Those would be the walk-ons, many of whom -- like Mark Tauscher, Donnel Thompson, Jim Leonhard, J.J. Watt and Jared Abbrederis -- have made significant impact on the program.
This year's team is no different. Redshirt senior quarterback Joel Stave, despite a bad game against Iowa and an anemic first half Saturday in Wisconsin's 31-24 win at Maryland, now sits one touchdown pass away from No. 2 all-time on UW's touchdown pass list. His 29 wins as starting quarterback ranks him tied for second all-time with John Stocco, with only one win away from tying Brooks Bollinger.
Redshirt senior Alex Erickson hauled in five catches for 83 yards against the Terrapins, and is 15 receptions away from tying Abbrederis' single-season record of 78. Dare Ogunbowale leads the team in rushing this season and is now second on the team in receptions. He also rushed for a 21-yard touchdown in the first quarter, while also catching a six-yard score early in the fourth quarter.
On defense, Joe Schobert's been the standout, leading the team in tackles for loss (15.5) and sacks (9.5). He added another achievement to his resume, leading the team in rushing after the former prep running back took a direct snap on a fake punt and scampered 57 yards to set up Ogunbowale's touchdown run early in the game.
The past two weeks, redshirt sophomore Jack Cichy, who's received significant playing time in the two-deep as an outside linebacker, slid inside to replace the injured Chris Orr. He's only led the team in tackles both games, and against the Terps, recorded 10 tackles, three for loss, and added two sacks to his name. In an article by the Wisconsin State Journal's Jason Galloway, Cichy admitted his nervousness at first but credited his teammates.
"I knew I had this capability, but it's a little intimidating coming out here for the first time and starting," Cichy said. "You really don't know what you're going to get. You don't know how everything's going to happen. Having it happen the way it has, it's a great blessing.
"My defense around me has been a tremendous help. (Safety Michael) Caputo has kept me level-headed. The defensive line is doing a fantastic job."
Stave leads offensive resurgence
The Greenfield, Wis. native finished the afternoon 15-of-24 for 188 yards with the touchdown pass to Ogunbowale and an interception. It was a tale of two halves for Stave, who was knocked around in the first two quarters -- completing only 3-of-8 passes for 20 yards with a near costly pick. He was sacked three times as the offense as a whole gained only 94 yards with the game tied at 17 heading into halftime.
Starting with the second drive of the third quarter, the signal caller and his offense gained traction and started to click. Stave was 4-of-5 for 63 yards on that drive, which ended with Alec Ingold's 1-yard touchdown to put the Badgers up 24-17 and would never trail. As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Jeff Potrykus' pointed out, there was no thought to replacing Stave, who improved his record to 29-9, third-best in school history.
Did Chryst consider making a change at quarterback? Not once.
"We saw his competitiveness, that resiliency at the end of the game," Chryst said of Stave. "He made sure that we found a way to keep our offense on the field....
"Joel is resilient and he cares a ton about this team and he has a ton of confidence in himself that he is going to find a way....He'll certainly contribute in a big way and I thought he did tonight."
More stories from Saturday's game
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel -- Clement sore and sorely missed by team (read this one in particular on Biegel's halftime speech)