The Wisconsin Badgers suffered a disappointing loss to the Iowa Hawkeyes this week, significantly slimming their chances at a Big Ten Championship appearance, as the offense scored just six points in the game.
It was a field position game for both sides, with the Iowa special teams unit looking to pin the Badgers offense deep in their own territory, which limited Wisconsin’s offensive capabilities.
However, the Badgers also had a number of missed opportunities and looked far from their potential, raising questions as to what the issue has been thus far.
While Fickell pointed out some of the personnel issues that have been apparent in the transition to Phil Longo’s offense, the head coach also keyed on the preparation of respecting Iowa’s defense.
“I think maybe they didn’t recognize how stout this defense really was, how much they can limit you to a lot of things that you do,” Fickell said about his team.
“You give them a lot of credit. They lost two first-round draft picks from last year’s defense. I don’t know that they have taken much of a step backwards. There’s a lot of credit to be given to them that forced us into the situations we had tonight, especially on third down.”
Fickell doubled down, pointing out how the Badgers lost in every aspect of the game in the 15-6 loss, leading to a disappointing outcome.
“We got beat in every phase of the game,” Fickell said. “They out-physicaled us, they out-rushed us. All those things.”
However, the head coach took responsibility for the loss in not preparing his team well enough for the opponent, which Fickell thought played a factor in the loss.
“I’m not saying that about the players, I’m saying that of myself. They were better prepared. I thought we did a great job all week.”
The head coach pointed to how Iowa ultimately dictated the pace of the game, riding with their same formula and playing well defensively, which has aided them in generating wins, even if the way they go about it isn't pretty.
“That’s where I think ultimately you can look at it, they got a great culture of what it is they do,” Fickell said. “They lost their top player on offense in Erick All early on. Didn’t change exactly what they were going to do. They stuck with it. They knew they were playing well defensively. They didn’t have to put themselves in a lot of situations to take some chances.”
“That’s where as a whole we’ve got to do a better job. We talk about complementary football. If we can put them in some situations where we made them have to make some plays on offense, I think we could find ways to create some more things.”