Saturday, October 27, 2007

UW-Indiana postgame thoughts

Watched the second half under the din of my father-in-law snoring on the couch behind me, an apt metaphor for the game on the whole. I'll take it, though - when Indiana plays that poorly, we should beat them by 30. I'll pick nits later, but let's lead with this thought:

Great game by the defense. This is the game we've been waiting all year to see from that unit. True, IU lost a few offensive linemen, but the effort transcended that advantage.

The defensive line played very well - good pressure on Lewis, but more importantly they shut down his running lanes. The linebackers were outstanding - Casillas and Levy in particular. And what can you say about Ike? Joe Hart's reference to Fletcher-Burress '99 proved to be dead-on - four catches for 17 yards for Hardy - as well as a fumble and a huge penalty. Langford got a right-place, right-time pick, Carter broke up some passes, and Pleasant and Royston were around the ball. And best yet: best tackling of the season, can't think of one blatant missed tackle.

Other thoughts:

-Too many stupid mental errors for the ninth game of the season. An offsides penalty made a third-and-1 into a third-and-6, an illegal shift nullified a terrific Donovan first down scramble, and a blatant offside on a kickoff.

-Great pressure by Hayden and Shaughnessy on Langford's pick.

-Took waaaaaaay too long to put these guys away, thanks to those mental errors and Donovan's fumble.

-Conversely, can't remember seeing worse ball protection than what Indiana showed today, they handled the ball like it was covered with butter.

-Loved to see Thigpen taunting our crowd after his long run, which everyone else knew was coming back because of a penalty on Hardy - which was a good call, Ike would have made that tackle.

-Did Gilreath give back his return record on that atrocious punt return in the third quarter? Oh well, he made up for it with a brilliant return in the fourth.

-Did anyone else notice how often Ike was around the ball on special teams? Is that a new role for him, or has he been on those units all along? Whatever the case, I like the assignment.

-Great to have Hubbard back. He only caught one pass for 30 yards, but he drew an interference penalty to set up a TD late in the third.

-Lance got off to a slow start, but came on late when the IU defense was tiring. Still, we really need PJ healthy next week to have a chance to win in Columbus. On Smith's TD runs he got a lot of nice blocking - Urbik, Rentmeester, and Turner's stood out.

-Speaking of Rentmeester, how great were his two runs, and Pressley's later? That's 45 yards on four carries for the fullbacks, hopefully that's not a gimmick and becomes part of the regular offense.

-Time of possession edge: 35:23-24:37, Wisconsin. Just what we needed.

-Aaron Henry is a playmaker. He caused one of Lewis's fumbles, and twice he was there to scoop up IU fumbles that were later (correctly) ruled down. He would have had big returns on both.

-Charles Davis, the color analyst, is very good. I thought so when he called bowls for Fox last year, and continue to think that for his work with the BTN. He deserves a shot at ESPN or ABC, but we'll see if his lack of a big name will hold him back.

-Well-officiated game.

-Lastly, did you see the video of the law school students trying to catch their canes? Homecoming legend has it that if you catch the cane after throwing it over the goalpost, you'll win your first case. Let me tell you, a lot of those canes hit the ground; too bad for their clients. Nerds!

What did y'all think?


JC said...

Nerds Scott? C'mon. Give the law school kids a break. It is a great tradition, one that I unfortunately could not partake in due to the fact that my girlfriend (at that time) was the maid of honor in a wedding in Door County. Wished I could have done it though.

Deuces said...

"Lance"? "Zach"? "PJ"?

What is this Brent Musburger's blog now?

Scott Tappa said...

Home at halftime of the Iola-Scandinavia vs. Manitowoc Lutheran second round game, 28-0 T-Birds. Looks like we're headed for a rematch with Stevens Point Pacelli. Because I know you all were waiting for the update.

Corby: The Nerds comment was referring only to the lawyers that did not catch the canes - nothing but love for those who grabbed them, as I'm sure you would have.

Andy: I had the same thought myself (actually also thought of Ahmad Rashad's Michael-Scottie first person mania), but consider the last names: Smith, Brown, Hill. From now on I'll write these posts in AP style.

Will said...

Thanks for the write-up, Tappa since some of us have been without the Badgers the last couple of weeks (and I haven't been able to get to the alumni bar).

Glad to hear the the team put up that score against a solid squad.

Oh, by the way, the boxscore refers to Lance Smith, Lance Smith-Williams. Is that a mistake or did he add an surname?

Jim Polzin said...

His legal name is Smith-Williams, but he goes by Smith. It's a little confusing, because his name, as far as the university is concerned, is Smith-Williams. And that's what he's listed as on the roster because their system is tied in with the university's computer system. But on all other rosters and stat sheets, he's just Lance Smith.

By the way, an interesting story from this week on him. A news reporter from the Badger Herald e-mailed Smith this week because he had pleaded (pled?) guilty to his charges. He ended up calling her back -- like five times, apparently -- and finally got a hold of her.

Well, she wrote a story, which was pretty good. Included was the quote ``I love ladies.'' Of course, the folks at UW weren't happy because reporters aren't allowed to contact athletes on the side.

So Justin Doherty informs the Herald at the game yesterday that if they show up for the post-game interviews in the weight room, the paper will get no access for the next two weeks.

To his credit, one of the sports guys -- who had nothing to do with the girl contacting Smith or the story running -- stood his ground and showed up anyway. He even asked Justin to speak with Bielema personally, then rode the elevator downstairs with the two to explain the situation.

I'm not exactly sure what will come of it, but I thought it was pretty interesting. The sidebar to all of this is that Smith hasn't been allowed to speak with the media since at least the week leading up to the UNLV game, when his suspension was announced. And Ikegwuonu has been off-limits since the Penn State game, when he said something afterward about UW's goals no longer being attainable.

Sorry for the long blog. But I figured some of you might find this stuff interesting.

Scott Tappa said...

Thanks for the story, Polster. Glad to see the athletic department is easing off its paranoia. ;)

Seriously, though, I just don't understand the policy of making student-athletes unavailable to the media. Covering high school kids, I hated it when a coach insisted on hovering over an interview with a kid.

I remember when Steve Jorgensen, then the football coach at Oshkosh North during their 2000 state title season, got some kids for Todd Sommerfeldt to interview for season previews, and instructed them "Speak your mind." We loved it - a coach who showed trust in his players!

That's what it boils down to: coaches trusting their players. If Smith wanted to talk to the Herald reporter (and kudos to her for attempting), it's his prerogative whether to talk to her or not, whether to obey his lawyer or the athletic department.

And what does the team gain from Ike not talking to the media? You think there weren't other players with the same attitude after the Penn State game? Ike was just honest about it. It's on the coaches to change that attitude, not to stifle it from going public.

Bottom line: trusting your players to be candid yet responsible encourages young men to trust their coaches and exhibit leadership characteristics.

Thanks for sharing, Jim.

Jim Polzin said...

Taps: You nailed it. I agree with every word. I wonder, though, how fans who weren't media members at any point in their lives view this situation.

I'm sure there are some who would drink the Bielema Kool-Aid and think, "Well, if Coach B thinks it's best for the program, then good for him, and the media is a bunch of whiners for not getting their way."

I do think it's total B.S. Jack Ikegwuonu is 21 years old. At this time next year, he very well could be earning a paycheck in the NFL. Yet, he can't be trusted to speak his mind in front of the cameras and tape recorders?

Scott Tappa said...

After writing that this morning, I thought about what you ended up writing - what do non-media types think? Also, if I happened to be a coach at a program like UW, and soooo much was riding on every game, my attitude might be different.

But it's not like we've got 115 Chad Johnsons running around that locker room, or like the Badgers are even remotely close to e vintage Miami trash talkers. I like the group of kids we have ... or at least I do because the coaches have stifled them from saying inflammatory things that would turn off a fan like me!

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