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Picking apart Wisconsin’s loss to BYU

Our post-game roundtable comes a few days later, after we’ve (hopefully) had time to recover.

NCAA Football: Brigham Young at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Good: YEEESSHH, maybe not a lot.

Andrew Rosin: I’m happy Taiwan Deal’s turned into a viable second option at running back. From being next in line after Corey Clement to dealing with years of injuries that would have made a lot of people decide to say, “Screw it, I’m transitioning into academics.” He didn’t have eye-popping yards per carry, but he got tough goal-line yards while one of the 15 things that went wrong was going wrong. He kept it only heartbreaking instead of outright depressing.

Owen Riese: Jake Ferguson continues to be a beacon of light from an otherwise dreary tight end position thus far this season. He’s proved to be easily the best receiving option of the bunch, and his penchant for coming up in big situations is very impressive as a first-year player. He’s going to be a good one, but early returns have been positive.

Bob Wiedenhoeft: Wisconsin’s strength of schedule improved (New Mexico and No. 25 BYU are both 2–1!). Also, UW need not worry about being a top-five visiting squad entering Kinnick in a night game.

If you were to pick a game to play absolutely terribly, the BYU game might have been that game.

I’m not going to pretend that there’s a positive from the on-field performance; it was just a spectrum of bad.

Kevin O’Connell: It’s tough to take anything positive from this game, but running back Garrett Groshek played well. He provided a much-needed spark for the offense in the second half and finished with 74 total yards.

Drew Hamm: JONATHAN TAYLOR DIDN’T FUMBLE!!!!!! That’s more important than winning.

The Bad: There is a lot to learn from Saturday’s loss. What pops out most to you?

Rosin: I could talk about how Alex Hornibrook finally cost the Badgers a game with a really bad throw. I could talk about the offensive line not being ready to go. I could talk about how Kyle Penniston killed a scoring drive with a really dumb penalty. I could talk about how Jack Dunn should just catch a dang punt already. Owen talked about the defense. I could talk about the inherent stupidity of running draw plays on the final drive when you need points and YOU REALLY AREN’T PLAYING LIKE YOU’RE GOING TO WIN THIS IN OVERTIME, PAUL CHRYST.

I mean, Hornibrook finally got a rhythm going, 5-for-5 and a 16-yard rumble-and-stumble on the last drive. And then? You run Deal up the middle for two yards. Half measures never work. Half measures get you beaten. Though I suppose just getting out of the first half despite three timeouts and 70 seconds left and BYU on their own 15 after the first play should have been the sign out front that told me this was happening.

Owen: I wasn’t surprised that the Badgers’ defensive line was challenged by a team that was finally able to simulate the level of physically the Badgers bring on offense. BYU wants to play big-boy football, and the UW defensive line wasn’t prepared to match it, or so it seemed.

However, I think I was probably both most surprised and disappointed with the play of the normally rock-solid inside linebackers. BYU played with T.J. Edwards and Ryan Connelly with that reverse jet motion and simply gave the All-Americans a lot to think about. With them caught out of position multiple times, BYU found something that worked and compounded on it.

Bob: It seemed like the return of Danny Davis did nothing to bolster the offense. A.J. Taylor and Davis combined for 71 receiving yards. When Jonathan Taylor is in the low 100’s for yards and sub-five per carry, they really need A.J. Taylor/Davis to combine for 150+ yards in my opinion. Of course, as my colleagues mention, this stems from poor offensive line play.

Side note: Hornibrook looked ill for most of the game. I’m not saying he was suffering from dehydration (I’m not a doctor and I’m watching the game on TV), but I do think he looked dehydrated. I have a lurking worry that the team wasn’t properly physically prepared to play in Saturday’s heat.

Double side note: Would Wisconsin have lost this game if the roster was what we were expecting in June?

Kevin: So much went wrong. First, the youth in the secondary showed against the Cougars. Early in the second quarter on a 3rd-and-10 in BYU territory, cornerback Caesar Williams was burned for 21 yard catch by Talon Shumway that kept alive a six-play, 75 yard touchdown drive to give the Cougars a 14–7 lead. In the second half, Faion Hicks was called for pass interference on third down that would have kept BYU out of the endzone. Instead, the Cougars received an automatic first down and regained the lead again 21–14. It was a rough day for the secondary as a whole, against a team that isn’t know for throwing the ball very well.

But it wasn’t just the secondary that played poorly. The front seven was abused by running back Squally Canada, who averaged 10.7 yards per carry on the day. The biggest play of the game for me came when the Badgers finally tied the game up 21–21 and seemed to have all of the momentum in their favor. But on the first play of the ensuing BYU drive, Canada ran for 46 yards through a gaping hole to the Wisconsin 29-yard line. It was after that play when I felt like Wisconsin was in real danger of losing the game. BYU kicked a field goal and never looked back. It was a lackluster performance we haven’t seen from a Wisconsin defense in a long time, but hopefully this is a wake up call for the rest of the season. We’re on to Iowa.

Drew: Everything was bad. Out-played and out-coached is no way to go through non-conference play at home.

Game Balls: Who deserves them (either Wisconsin or BYU)?

Rosin: Sione Takitaki was everywhere on defense. 13 tackles, eight solo, with a sack and two tackles for loss. With the Badgers not having a consistent bead on him, he muddied up the offensive works. For the Badgers, Jonathan Taylor ran for a hundred yards and didn’t fumble. On a day with tough sledding, he was still very good despite the rest of it.

Owen: Canada and the BYU offensive line. They came ready to play and caught the Badgers napping and had them on their heels seemingly the entire day. Wisconsin doesn’t get out-Wisconsined very often, but it did on Saturday.

Bob: I’ll go with Groshek. He had a big play or two, rushing for 71 yards on only six carries. I may never be able to give him a game ball again, so I’ll do it now.

Kevin: BYU’s entire front seven deserves a ton of credit. They manhandled Wisconsin’s offensive line for a majority of that game, and Jonathan Taylor was never able to bust open the long runs we are so used to seeing from him (his longest was 15 yards). Specifically, Takitaki was the best player on the field and almost single-handedly kept the Badgers’ running game in check. Hats off to him.

Drew: I think selecting anyone other than Takitaki or Canada is disingenuous.

Up Next: Iowa. This game could have huge ramifications for the division. Name the player(s) that need to step up the most on the road in a hostile, night-game environment.

Rosin: Iowa’s got their traditional steady and solid defense. I’m probably going to make this answer popular, but for what was regarded as the best returning group of offensive linemen in college football, they’ve been highly disappointing. Not bad, but they’ve been punched more than one expects, and when you’re facing a defense that already held a running back with star quality in Iowa State’s David Montgomery to 44 yards? You need the A game if you’re going to avoid this being a spooky, scary struggle, which with an offense that gets sloppy and a defense that’s shown it can be shaky can absolutely occur. So yeah, it starts in the trenches.

Owen: Jon Dietzen, Cole Van Lanen, Michael Deiter, Tyler Biadasz, Beau Benzschawel and David Edwards. The Wisconsin offensive line didn’t play as woefully as the twitter dot com would lead you to believe, but they’re going to need to kick it into high gear to come out of Kinnick Stadium with a victory and the cat bird’s seat in the West.

Bob: Every single one of them needs to step up. Third-team scouting unit through D’Cota Dixon. Show me what you got, Paul Chryst. You know football way more than I do, and you’ve got a good staff. Help these young men get ready to play. This is a watershed moment, coach.

Kevin: Hornibrook needs to have a bounce-back game against Iowa. Yes, the offensive line needs to play to its ability, but Hornibrook again doomed Wisconsin with an interception in the second half. His pocket presence is frustratingly bad when he’s faced with even the slightest bit of a pass rush, and despite an impressive 16-yard scamper on Wisconsin’s final drive, he needs to be more nimble and make better decisions while under pressure.

Drew: Hornibrook, the offensive line, Chryst, Jim Leonhard, the secondary, Edwards and Connelly, Bucky Badger, whoever is going to fill in at OLB for Andrew Van Ginkel, Penniston. and Rafael Gaglianone need to step up. Is that everyone? I think that’s everyone. Ferguson and Taylor can keep doing whatever it is they’re doing, though.