Madison -- Down near the goal line in the second quarter against the Akron Zips, the Wisconsin Badgers went with a short-yardage personnel. Some may refer to those as "jumbo" formations in hopes of plowing their way across the goal line. This was especially true for the personnel on the field.
Which included a 340-pound nose guard as one of its fullbacks.
Sophomore Olive Sagapolu, the anchor and emerging standout on the defensive line, was in the backfield as a lead blocker for senior tailback Corey Clement.
"Yeah, there’s a guy that has done a lot for us," head coach Paul Chryst said after Wisconsin’s 54-10 win on Saturday. "I think it was Rudy’s [offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph] way of telling him we appreciate him on field goal/PAT [teams], and it was good."
Wisconsin’s offense wasn’t able to punch it through when Sagapolu was in, with Clement only gaining three yards on two plays, but it’s another personnel grouping that teams will have to prepare for.
"We’ll see how the season progresses," Sagapolu said. "Hopefully, I can get a carry, but I don’t know. We’ll see if Coach Rudolph lets me get the ball."
It’s not a foreign concept for a Paul Chryst-led offense to feature a lineman as an extra lead blocker. In 2010, redshirt freshman and eventual left guard Ryan Groy was utilized as a fullback, even starting that season opener against UNLV.
For the 6’2, 340-pound nose guard, it allows him to partake in an activity he’s quite fond of.
"It’s fun. I get to go out there and hit somebody, which I really loved," Sagapolu admitted. "We’ll see how it progresses. I’ve had fun with it this week, this prep week before we went out and played today. They called my name, I went out there and tried my best to help the team out."
Maybe many should have been tipped off that Sagapolu might see time on the offensive side of the ball. Before the game, the California native was seen wearing No. 99 — different from his normal No. 65. Two players cannot be on the field with the same number.
Sagapolu shares the number with starting left tackle Ryan Ramczyk, so he had to change his jersey. The question still remains if he sticks with it for the future.
"It was just a change for the fullback position, but we’ll see if I keep that number now."
Jazz Peavy gets a special message from a Packers great
The Badgers’ wide out led the team with seven catches for 100 yards and his first two collegiate touchdowns on Saturday. All the catches came in the first half, and helped UW to a 30-10 lead at halftime.
"Jazz had a great game," redshirt senior quarterback Bart Houston said, "and this week Akron decided to double-team Fum [tight end Troy Fumagalli]. I probably would have done the same, but we have a lot of weapons out there on offense, and this week was Jazz’s turn."
After reeling in some impressive catches, former Green Bay Packers wide receiver Donald Driver praised the Kenosha native on Twitter.
Okay.. JP @JazzPeavy Nice sideline catch. Then TD and now another. Great job kid..— Donald Driver (@Donald_Driver80) September 10, 2016
When asked by ESPN Wisconsin’s Tony Cartagena if he saw the tweet, Peavy was surprised and noticeably moved by the gesture.
"Wow, that’s crazy. Coming from a GOAT [Greatest of All-Time] like that, that’s big," Peavy said. "I don’t even know what to say to that, it’s crazy."
He later replied to Driver via Twitter in appreciation.
Thank you Mr. Driver! Words from a . Means a lot. https://t.co/Xc35qt154t— JP (@JazzPeavy) September 11, 2016
T.J. Edwards returns
Out with a broken left foot for all of fall camp and the LSU game, redshirt sophomore inside linebacker T.J. Edwards finally saw his first game action of the 2016 season.
Edwards didn’t start the game but played a few series. Interchanging with redshirt sophomore Ryan Connelly, he ended the game with two tackles — including his first career sack.
"I feel great," Edwards said, who led the team in tackles last season (84). "I didn’t think I’d feel this good but I’m happy I do. I’m glad the training staff really cleared me at the right time and I trust them. I only benefited from it."
Edwards’ return is a welcomed sight for the Wisconsin defense, who lost inside linebacker Chris Orr for the 2016 season to a right knee injury on LSU’s first offensive play of the game. Connelly, a former walk-on, played admirably last week with seven tackles — including tackling Heisman Trophy candidate Leonard Fournette on a 3rd-and-8 screen pass to force a punt. Against the Zips and their up-tempo, spread attack, the former walk-on recorded one tackle.
The depth at inside linebacker has been hit severely with the injuries to Edwards and Orr, so much so the coaching staff’s moved Leon Jacobs back to his former position. Late in the game, Jacobs asserted himself well at the position -- recording a sack in the fourth quarter.