The Alabama Crimson Tide stymied the Wisconsin Badgers' offense two Saturdays ago, suffocating their run game and forcing the Badgers to become very one-dimensional, hich in and of itself is an understatement.
After facing one of the nation's top defenses and being held to 268 total yards against the Tide -- only 40 rushing yards on 21 carries -- the Badgers encountered a lesser opponent Saturday afternoon in the Miami (Ohio) Redhawks. The end result: a 58-0 victory at Camp Randall Stadium.
Though there were many bright spots in the victory, the Badgers need to continue to move forward and improve upon a few key directives, most notably the run game in the first half.
By the numbers
Total points for Wisconsin: 58
Total yards for Wisconsin: 451
Total yards for Wisconsin in first half: 283
More on the Offense
More on the Offense
Total yards for Wisconsin against Alabama: 268
Rushing yards in first half for Wisconsin: 58
Rushing yards in third quarter for Wisconsin: 98
Number of wide receivers who caught a pass Saturday: 5
Number of receptions by wide receivers: 18
Number of completions by quarterbacks: 23
Third-down conversions for Wisconsin: 9-of-16
Red-zone touchdown opportunities: 6-of-9
Number of touchdowns by Wisconsin wide receivers in 2015: 4
Number of touchdowns by Wisconsin wide receivers in 2014: 5
I have to watch the game again in the coming days, but Wisconsin mostly ran out of the following personnel (running backs/tight end): 21, 11 (almost all out of shotgun), 12, 23 and 22. In the two-minute drill with the nine-play, 93-yard drive capped by Robert Wheelwright's second touchdown catch, the Badgers exclusively went to all 11 personnel out of the shotgun, outside of the first two plays where redshirt freshman Taiwan Deal crashed his way through for 13 yards in a two-running back, two-tight end set (22).
1. The passing game. Redshirt senior Joel Stave continued his solid start against Alabama with an impressive effort against the Redhawks. The former walk-on went 19-of-30 for 236 yards and three touchdowns. The Badgers as a whole spread the ball around for the second straight week, completing a reception to eight targets yet again.
2. Two-minute offense. Last year, you saw what Stave and the passing offense could do in these situations. In the second quarter, the Badgers scored 10 points in 2:42 as they drove 93 and 31 yards, respectively. Stave in those two drives out of the 11 personnel in shotgun formation: 8-of-10 for 111 yards and a touchdown. If not for the miss to Wheelwright at the goal line, it would have been two touchdowns in under three minutes.
3. Wheelwright. The junior has had to deal with multiple injuries and setbacks in his first two years with the Badgers. It's one game, but his six receptions for 79 yards and a touchdown led the team and showed his potential to be the complement to redshirt senior Alex Erickson.
"I think he's a really good player. He's been a guy who I've always thought is pretty naturally gifted," Stave said after the game.
"It was just a matter of him staying healthy. I think this year being able to see him healthy, he's really shown how good a player he can be."
4. Third-quarter run game. Yes, the score was already 37-0, but Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst kept his starting five (well, six -- more on that in a second) in the game. The Badgers rushed for 98 yards on 11 carries that quarter, highlighted by runs of 14, 16 and 35 yards, the longest of any Wisconsin running back this year. The Badgers also received their first hundred-yard rusher in redshirt junior Dare Ogunbowale with 112 yards on 16 carries.
The Badgers also scored three rushing touchdowns in the game, a welcomed sight compared to last week's debacle.
1. First-half run game. Wisconsin ran the ball for only 58 yards in the first half on 21 carries, just a bit better than its entire output against Alabama a week prior (40 yards on 21 carries). Chryst noted after the game the rushing attacked wasn't consistent, though it got rolling in the third quarter. The Badgers didn't get the movement they needed on the line that one expected against an inferior Miami (Ohio) defense. Redshirt junior Walker Williams said there weren't any surprises the Redhawks showed than from what was on film. He knows the Badgers' line needs to start fast, and they have the opportunity to do so in two more non-conference games before Iowa comes into Camp Randall on Oct. 3.
"We need to get a quicker start next time because we know what we need to do," Williams said. "We can't have a warm-up period in regards to our run game.
2. That one Stave interception. This is extremely nit-picky, but there seems to be at least one throw Stave makes per game that's a head-scratcher. Granted, he made the right read in the second quarter in trying to hit Erickson on an apparent out-and-up look. However, he under-threw the ball and was picked off. It might have been one of the only mistakes for Stave, who's impressed so far in two games with five touchdown passes.