The Wisconsin Badgers stumbled through another game this season and lost to the Indiana Hoosiers, 14-6, on Saturday afternoon. We convened virtually to discuss the game. Here is what Rock, J.J., Tyler and Ryan had to say after sleeping on it for a night.
What is wrong with the offense?
Rock: You can’t call plays if you don’t trust your players ability to execute them. I’d love to see the jet sweeps we gashed Michigan with, but you need players that can consistently take that handoff at a speed faster than most of the other people on the field. They did not play the last two games. Runs up the middle are tough when there’s a true freshman figuring out how to snap it on the fly. The stark contrast in performance from Illinois and Michigan to Northwestern and Indiana makes me think there’s a lot more cobbling together something quickly behind the scenes than last year.
J.J.: I’m convinced that Wisconsin only has about five offensive plays at this point. Mertz mentioned Indiana was calling out the plays at the start, which, not to make light of how hard that situation must be for a young quarterback, doesn’t seem that hard when yelling out “pass to tight end in the flat” gives you about a 25% chance of being right. Without principle deep threat Danny Davis III, Wisconsin’s lack of true depth in the receiver corps was exposed- hardly anyone could make a play downfield, bar the occasional flash from Chimere Dike. I also still don’t think they’re pounding Berger enough. He’s averaging over five yards per carry and only touched the ball 15 times against a Indiana run defense that was arguably their biggest weakness on that side of the ball.
Ryan: The play calling has been awful in the last two games. Wisconsin ran 11 or so jet sweeps/reverses against Michigan and maybe ran one against Northwestern. There is little to no creativity and I understand that they didn’t have Davis and Pryor last game, but Pryor was a full go yesterday until he left late in the game. Dike also seems like he could make things happen if he just got the ball. The wide receiver depth is…not good either. Most importantly, why is Berger not getting more touches? Late in the game, he started off a drive with a 22 yard rush and then an eight yard run and then didn’t get the ball again on the drive. It seems like whenever he gets into a rhythm, they pull him.
Tyler: A lot of things but the play calling is a disaster. You’re limited without Pryor and Danny Davis but does that prevent Jalen Berger from getting the ball? No. Is Jalen Berger being keyed on and struggling to get yards? No. He’s averaging 5.9 yards per carry and only got 15 touches. In a mostly one possession game. It’s absurd. We’re getting close to Gary Andersen not realizing Melvin Gordon is good territory.
The defense looked really good again, however, what do they need to do to get more/better pressure on the quarterback?
Rock: You know that really annoying thing where the QB escapes pressure when they should have been dead to rights? That doesn’t happen as much if you can force him to run into another defensive lineman. That’s something that Nick Herbig and Leo Chenal will get better at as they get more reps.
J.J.: I agree with Rock. I think it’s hard to exactly say, but I would chalk some of the lack of sacks up to inexperience- I think with more reps the pressure will stay the same, but guys like Chenal will improve their understanding of where the quarterback will go after the pocket initially collapses, and pounce there.
Ryan: I think they’re getting enough pressure, they got to Jack Tuttle several times and caused him to make errant passes, but were just a little late getting there. It’s hard to say what is preventing them from getting to the QB quicker, maybe Jim Leonhard needs to dial up more blitzes?
Tyler: It’s really hard to pinpoint one thing. They’re getting plenty of hurries they’re just a step late where the ball is getting out just in time. They got in Tuttle’s face a lot but they’re just not getting home. If you can’t get there against IU’s offensive line Iowa is going to be tough.
Were there any positives you took from this game?
Rock: I finished my bottle of sloe gin and moved on to blue curacao. Graze’s pulled pork mac & cheese was delicious. Red wine is great for when I want to drink slowly.
J.J.: I didn’t miss anything in the second and third quarter when I went to the mall to go Christmas shopping with my sisters.
Ryan: Our defense is still good?
Tyler: Defense is good. That’s cool I guess.
Who gets your game ball for the Badgers? We are only going to give out one because more than that seems excessive for a team that scored six points.
Rock: Jim Leonhard. Indiana put up thirty-some points on four teams this year, including Ohio State. Holding the Hoosiers to 14 points and 217 total yards with only one turnover is stellar work. From a very basic football scheme standpoint, I don’t like when the Badgers are on defense. From a personal enjoyment standpoint I love watching this defense fly around.
J.J.: Going to steal from everyone’s answers here. Jalen Berger gets the game ball he couldn’t get in the actual game, and on defense Jim Leonhard gets it for continuing to preserve an excellent defense in spite of getting no help from the offense.
Ryan: I unlike the Wisconsin coaching staff, will give the ball to Jalen Berger.
Tyler: Jalen Berger gets a game ball even though he doesn’t get the real ball enough.
With all of the cancellations, teams playing a different number of games, there being no fans in the stadium...it all feels kinda fake to me. Do you consider this season canon?
Rock: Nope. It’s just an excuse to cover 1/7th of the days I want to drink. Looking at an empty Camp Randall is and was surreal. That was Senior Day to some of the players. Now there’s open discussion about changing the rules to make sure Ohio State can play in the championship game even if the Michigan game is canceled. What are we doing.
J.J.: In my incredibly biased opinion, all of this applies to college football too.
Ryan: No. It’s great to have football games on TV and it’s great that the players get to play, but apart from that, no. The fact that the B1G is considering changing the rules so that OSU can play in the conference championship game if their final game is cancelled is an absolute joke and proves that all the conference cares about is making the money that they would make if one of its teams were to play in the CFP. They don’t care about the players, the teams or their integrity. If they reverse course and allow a 5-0 OSU to play in the conference championship game, I hope Northwestern rails them and then Northwestern doesn’t make the CFP. It won’t happen, but a guy can hope, right?
Tyler: This season is cool to have for entertainment sake but it’s a wash for pretty much every team outside of Alabama and Clemson. Nobody is beating those two teams. Teams should be looking at is as a prep for 2021. Play some more guys. Play younger guys and see what you’ve got. Run your freshman like...I don’t know…umm, Jalen Berger!