After a Badger blowout / shutout win on the road to open the 2019 season, you can bet that the B5Q staff is excited to keep talking about this one. Here are our reflections from Wisconsin’s hot start to the season.
What went right for the Badgers in their 49-0 demolition of USF on Friday night?
Ryan Mellenthin: Pretty much everything went right. Jonathan Taylor was back to doing Jonathan Taylor things, and the defense was much improved over last season. UW’s linebackers were constantly in the backfield and all of the “new faces” on defense made solid contributions. Wisconsin also appears to have a talented young group of pass rushers.
Owen Riese: I think the biggest thing that stood out to me was the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Despite lacking the star power of previous offensive lines, they got great push and protected well enough in the pass game for game one. On the other side, the Bulls were never able to get any semblance of a run game going. This made South Florida one-dimensional and allowed Jim Leonhard and company to dial up some stunts and pressures that affected Blake Barnett and their new offensive coordinator still settling into their new system.
Bob Wiedenhoeft: It was nice to see the Badgers’ defense swarming, and USF went from two-dimensional to one-dimensional after the first drive. Of course, USF went from one-dimensional to zero-dimensional when Wisconsin built about a 28-0 lead. Wisconsin went on the road in August in Florida, withstood the heat, and withstood the weather delay against a team that was supposed to give Wisconsin trouble. Instead, USF was in desperation mode starting as early as the second quarter.
Drew Hamm: Man, basically everything went right for the Badgers on Friday. Taylor was cooking, the defense was flying around the field and forcing turnovers and even Jack Dunn had a nice punt return! This was a game that I started watching with a touch of trepidation, and then in the middle of the third quarter, my wife (a Badgers alumna) went to bed because “we are winning by too much and this game is boring.”
What, if anything, could the Badgers clean up before game two against Central Michigan?
Ryan: I think the pass protection could be improved some. The offensive line allowed three sacks and three QB hurries. We also saw a number of rushes that went for negative or zero yards. It’s likely due to the fact that it was the re-tooled line playing in their first game together, but that was the only thing that could be cleaned up.
Owen: Pass protection is definitely an area that could be cleaned up some. Outside of that, I think this is a question that will be better answered once Wisconsin continues to see other defenses and teams find ways to attack the Badgers. This game was a poor way to evaluate what can go better, because so many things went right.
Bob: Yup, pass protection could improve, but it seemed to be fixable. Apart from that, a missed 30-yard field goal was the only real alarm for me. I would love to know what happened wrong on the Collin Larsh missed field goal. Was the snap high/low? Was the hold bad? Did the weather impact the kick? Here’s to hoping the Badgers don’t let this become a pattern.
Drew: Yeah, duh, the pass protection wasn’t perfect. That could definitely use some refining in practice this week. Also, getting Jack Coan and Quintez Cephus on the same page with the deep ball would be nice too. Those two missed shots early in the game were a bummer, but Coan wasn’t THAT far off and with another week of practice under their belt, maybe they hit one this week.
How did Jack Coan play in his first true “QB1” game?
Ryan: I thought Coan played well. The few times he did throw deep, he overthrew Cephus, one of which he wasn’t set due to pressure from the defense, but the other he just barely overthrew him. I think those errors will be cleaned up once Cephus gets more snaps under his belt in practice and the two develop more timing together. And, he didn’t throw an interception, so that’s something to be proud of.
Owen: I think he played about as expected. He started slow, missing two touchdowns to Cephus (who was also great to see back on the field). However, once things settled down, Coan was extremely efficient and was able to operate within the offense as well as needed. Certainly far from writing the position off as taken care of, but definitely a step in the right direction for Coan.
Bob: He was pretty good!
I want to see Coan take this performance and use it as a solid base. He will face more difficult defenses in the very near future. We have seen Badger QBs perform well early and then fall apart soon thereafter.
Drew: Coan was a Badgers quarterback. I know that kind of sounds like an insult, but I don’t mean it that way. He threw for 199 yards, two touchdowns and didn’t turn the ball over once. Think back to last year. How many times would you have given up a limb for our quarterback to put up a line like that? Coan was fine. He’s fine. Everyone calm down! ::starts chanting MERTZ in my head::
Game balls on offense and defense for the Badgers.
Ryan: On Offense: Taylor. You have to give the game ball to him; 183 total yards, two rushing touchdowns and two receiving touchdowns. He also outgained USF’s offense by 26 yards. On Defense: Mine is a three way tie between Zack Baun, Matt Henningsen and Mike Maskalunas. Early in the game Baun was constantly around the ball, registered a tackle for loss, a sack and forced the fumble that wound up in Henningsen’s arms and later, the end zone. Henningsen himself, also added a sack. Maskalunas led the team in tackles and nearly killed a punter...
Owen: For the sake of being different and not monotonous, I’m going to give the offensive ball to Cephus. He looked to have little to no rust after his year off, and was explosive and threatening to the defense.
Defensively, I’ll go with Jack Sanborn. The sophomore was all over the field in the middle of the Badgers’ defense, and looked right at home next to Chris Orr, despite filling the shoes of now NFL linebackers Ryan Connelly and T.J. Edwards.
Bob: I’ll go with Taylor on offense and Henningsen on defense. I’ve been hoping for a while that Henningsen would step up, and it was nice to see him make a big play.
Drew: Taylor, duh. I also liked how Nakia Watson looked in the backup RB role. On defense there are a whole host of players to choose from on the Badgers, but honestly, Patrick Macon from USF probably should get it. Dude had 15 tackles, four of them for a loss, one of those TFLs was a sack and he also forced a fumble. While their offense should be fired into the sun forever, Macon deserves a game ball and, like, four or five beers for his efforts.
What was the most hilarious/shocking result from around the country this week?
And you can’t ALL say Tennessee losing to Georgia State at home after a boat in the Vol Navy caught on fire and sunk before the game, thus providing the perfect metaphor for their program, ok?
Ryan: I would say, Nevada getting a last-second win over Purdue with a 56-yard field goal kicked by a true freshman that wasn’t even on scholarship (but was put on scholarship after the game). Purdue also held a 31-17 lead in the game through three quarters, but it allowed 17 unanswered points en route to a 34-31 loss. FSU fans are also wanting FSU to switch to quarterback Alex Hornibrook after the team’s 36-31 loss to Boise State. Their current starter only finished 23-33, 327 yards and three passing touchdowns. If their concern was the number of times he was sacked, I assure you, Hornibrook is no more athletic and agile than James Blackman.
Owen: Tennessee losing to Georgia State 38-30 will forever help cement my argument that while recruiting rankings 100% matter, it doesn’t matter if you bring in top 25 classes every year, if you’re 5th(an arbitrary number in this instance) in your own division of your conference in recruiting. Tennessee has a lot more issues going on at the moment than recruiting, but that always seems to strike a chord with me.
Bob: Georgia State is a legitimately good school. Universities around the country, UW-Madison included, look to GSU as a model. GSU is opportunistic; the university completely transformed itself after the Atlanta Olympics, leveraging the infrastructure built for the summer games to grow from a commuter school to one of the top minority-serving institutions in the country. If there is any non-power 5 team school that could ascend in the next 10-20 years, it’s GSU.
To answer the question, I feel so bad for Purdue. Honestly. The Boilermakers are trying; they really are. Seriously folks, no sarcasm here.
Drew: Those games were all hilarious, but allow me to go the shocking route with my answer. Rutgers was down 21-7 at the end of the first quarter against and then rattled off 41 (!!!) straight points to win. RUTGERS DID THAT! I’ve read the game recap for that game three times now and unless I can’t read...this really happened. What a time to be alive!