Saturday, October 13, 2007

Wisconsin-Penn State postgame thoughts

Well, we won't have to worry about rankings or conference races or anything like that for awhile. Maybe I should just move back to Ohio; the two years I lived there, the only two years I've lived outside of Wisconsin since 1983, were Rose Bowl years.

This team reminds me of the 2000 team. High expectations and top five ranking at the start of the year, some turmoil, getting by with some close wins early in the season, then it all snaps. That team had the Shoe Box and a bunch of NFL players; this team had/has a couple of bad seeds and some players who might become NFL players. That team had a four-game losing streak in the middle of the season, and I don't see that, but 4-4 in Big Ten play and a lower-tier bowl is reasonable.

This thought has been popping into my head lately: this team looks poorly coached. But that probably isn't the case, because the same staff did a great job last year (minus the always underrated Henry Mason, and DelVaughn Alexander, his replacement, has done a credible job considering his two starters have gone down). Last year's team got better every week during conference play; this year's team seems to be getting worse. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and blame the injuries, but if we cut down on all the mental errors, we have a shot in this one.

Shaughnessy played well today. He's not dominating, but he's been strong.

Was Royston in for Pleasant? Was it injury related, or performance related? Does it matter?

Injuries to and defections on the front seven have been fatal. As much as we can point at the LBs and DBs missing tackles, today their backs were getting to the second line with a full head of steam, untouched through the line. I don't think those players are worse than they were last year, they're dinged up and the depth behind them is non-existent.

Offensive line play has been okay, not horrible, not terrific.

Xavier Harris made a catch, slightly encouraging.

Really upset that we gave up on the run in the second half. The game was decided four minutes in - why not work on getting a rhythm in the run game rather than racking up desperation passing yards against a semi-prevent and setting Donovan up to get battered?

Penn State has a chance to run the table in the Big Ten, but they won't win it. Good team, but we made them look better than they really are.

Aaron Henry had a nice sack on a blitz, first time I remember seeing him since The Citadel game.

Good catch out of the backfield by Brown. He's not as big an asset as Smith at RB, but he's not a liability either. Smith's absence didn't cost us either of these last two games.

Guessing the shore sheet will show a lot more explosive plays - 20+ yards - yielded by the defense, but there were probably even more plays from 15-19 yards that were just as painful. No one has had to grind out scoring drives this season, the scores come quickly.

PSU's second string QB made a run where Casillas made the tackle about 5-7 yards after he could have. The defense is playing either tentatively or, as stated in the last post, overly aggressive. It's a mental thing as much as anything now. We can talk about the new starters, but guys who played really well last year are struggling, too.

The second half's boring nature allowed me to watch Kentucky-LSU and Boston College-Notre Dame a lot and see Woodson and Ryan. They're good, not wow! good today, but doing what they have to do.

Offensive prediction recap, actual numbers second:
PJ: 23 carries, 29 yards, 1 TD - 19 carries, 75 yards, 1 TD
Donovan: 19-29, 211 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT - 16-29, 220 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT
Beckum: 8 catches, 94 yards - 5 catches, 70 yards
Jefferson: 3 catches, 49 yards - 6 catches, 124 yards - great game
Graham: 1 catch, 7 yards, 1 TD - 3 catches, 18 yards, 0 TD

Think I picked up that Musberger will be calling the NASCAR race on ABC tonight - sounds like a premise for an SNL sketch, with Kevin Nealon as Musberger. "Hang on a second - HE'S TAKING TWO NEW TIRES, FOLKS!" I'll skip that.


Anonymous said...

What I take from the last two games, losses, is that the Badgers don't have the athletes better Big Ten teams have, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The defensive players they lost from last year were playmakers. The defense lacks playmakers, guys you can count on to make things happen. That's the recruiting challenge ahead. Austin

Will said...

It was my mom's birthday today, so all I was able to watch so far - I taped the game and will try to watch it tonight - was the first quarter up to the Hill touchdown run.

For some reason, I felt much better going into - and ultimately angry - about the 2000 season. That team had a lot more talent. Remember watching the end of the UW-Northwestern game at the U.Va. football press box and realizing that I had to calm down because I was like, working, at the time (is there booing allowed in the press box?)

We had a great time at the UNLV game, but I think most of us had to leave Sam Boyd thinking this team wasn't as good as the ranking indicated. And subsequent weeks just made that point more evident.

Agree with you Tappa, don't think the coaches have become terrible overnight. But it will be interesting to see how the coaching staff responds in the next couple of weeks to keep this team motivated to play some sort of spoiler role.

Scott said...

I don't care about a Poulan Weed Eater appearance at this point. Just find a way to somehow, someway knock off OSU. It's sickening to me that they will be #1.

I know T alluded to Penn State being his least hated team in the Big Ten. I'd say OSU is hands down my most hated team in the conference. They vaulted over Michigan years ago for me. I can't stand their fans --- they remind me too much of Cubs fans (except for the fact that their team actually wins).

Jim Polzin said...

Hey Burchie, look at it this way: If UW really collapses, it may be in line for a bowl game in Tempe. Always looking for the positives here.

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