In their home opener Saturday afternoon at Camp Randall Stadium, the Wisconsin Badgers controlled the clock from the outset by rattling off a first possession of 6:55 for a touchdown to senior running back Corey Clement. The time-of-possession battle was huge for Wisconsin early in this one, with the Badgers holding the ball for 13:47 of the first quarter in a 54-10 win over the Akron Zips.
The second quarter was much more balanced, as senior quarterback Bart Houston let it fly. Jazz Peavy caught the first two* touchdowns of his career and, by halftime, had seven catches for 100 yards. Peavy also had a 23-yard run and a huge block on Robert Wheelright’s 47-yard catch in the first quarter.
In the second half, while the offense wasn’t as explosive, the Badgers remained in control of the time of possession, ending up with a massive advantage (40:52 to 19:08).
With a big lead, Alex Hornibrook came in for Houston and conducted the offense well, leading a drive in his first playing time for Wisconsin that culminated in a touchdown pass to sophomore Alec Ingold.
Here’s what we learned from Wisconsin’s win:
1. Corey Clement is still good.
After a very workmanlike effort against LSU, Clement exploded like the running back Wisconsin fans remember from 2014. In the first half, Clement ran 21 times for 111 yards and two touchdowns, displaying his ability to make defenders miss in the open field and grind out tough yards. The Badgers are going to need Clement to handle the workload throughout their murderer’s row of a Big Ten schedule, so getting him work early while keeping him healthy are essential to the success of the run game. That said, Clement left the game for good in the third quarter due to a left leg injury. The ailment didn’t appear serious, but we’ll update his status once it’s made available.
Aside from the injury, the lone disappointment on the day for Clement came in the first quarter, when the Badgers had closed in on the goal line. On a 4th-and-goal, Clement was tripped up while attempting to execute a jump cut. Wisconsin can’t squander those types of scoring opportunities against teams more threatening than the Zips were on Saturday.
2. Jazz [Peavy] is smooth.
Peavy had a heck of a day, recording seven receptions for 100 yards in the first half to go along with his first two career touchdown catches. He showed the ability to make both routine and difficult catches against an overmatched Akron secondary. Peavy also, as noted earlier, had a 23-yard end-around and a springing block for Wheelright, who complimented him with 99 yards receiving on the day.
3. This defense is suffocating.
After an impressive performance against LSU, the Wisconsin defense was just as dominant against Akron. The Zips, aside from two chunk rushing plays in the second quarter, managed just over 150 yards all game. They were out-classed all day, and the Badgers forced turnovers when they presented themselves. Warren Ball rushed for 59 yards on one possession in the second quarter, but Derrick Tindal forced him to fumble, stopping their momentum. Leo Musso also intercepted Akron quarterback Thomas Woodson inside the UW 10. This defense is running on all cylinders.
Honorable Mention: Quarterbacks
Despite the Badgers’ success in the run game, the passing attack was actually more potent. Houston and Hornibrook combined for 292 passing yards on the day, and maybe more importantly, zero turnovers. This will be vital to the Badgers’ success this season—mistake-free quarterback play. Houston finished 15-of-22 for 231 and two touchdowns, while Hornibrook went 5-of-5 for 61 yards and a touchdown.