Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Wisconsin-Tennessee thoughts

Tough loss. Tennessee definitely deserved this one, but it's a game we could have won without an extraordinary effort. It boiled down to some things that have plagued us all season, and some unexpectedly subpar coaching calls at times. Don't want this last game recap to be overwhelmingly negative, but that's what sticks out right now.

-Really have to like the way the defense played in the second half. But ... the Vols converted on so many third downs that we never got the decided field position edge that we needed. A number of bad missed tackles and familiar culprits - Elijah Hodge, Shane Carter, Kim Royston - that gave UT 15-20 yards a crack more than they should have had. Not getting off the field in these situations was the big difference between this year's defense and last year's.

-More execution gaffes: Hubbard's fumble, Jefferson's drop, all those procedure penalties, Donovan's underthrown last pass. Using two timeouts early in the second half also hurt.

-Two of Chryst's calls really struck me as bad from the snap: the pitch left to Smith on third-and-five, and the fourth down call in the fourth quarter that had Donovan rolling right with nobody even remotely open. We're Wisconsin, run the ball right at them on those plays. Reminded me of the option call at UNLV.

-The field seemed very soft, lots of guys slipping around. Wasn't a difference-maker, though.

-We seemed to have more fans there, or at least our fans were much louder than the assembled hillbillies wearing orange. (Sorry, made it almost 14 hours into the new year before a bitter slip.)

-Not sure why Beckum wasn't more involved, if he was well-covered, if Donovan was missing him, or, least likely, if he wasn't prominent in the game plan. If you would have told me four hours ago that he wouldn't get the 40 yards he needed for 1,000 on the season, I would have laughed.

-Thought the staff took too long to put P.J. back in during the second half. He played great today, no signs of rust. I'll follow up on this later this week, but is there still doubt that he's our best back? He is our best chance to consistently beat good teams by controlling the ball on the ground.

-Hodge's missed tackle or two aside, the linebackers played well. Hodge made a nice play to block the field goal attempt - thought we almost got an extra point earlier. Casillas and Levy were constantly around the ball, Casillas in the backfield, Levy in coverage. Schofield and DeCremer also made nice plays in the second half.

-LePay just said the senior class ends up as the winningest class in UW history - 40-11. Congratulations to these guys.

Disappointing end to a season that didn't deliver on high expectations, but we played a close game on January 1, won nine games for the fourth straight year, had a winning Big Ten record and went undefeated at home. If
you feel like complaining about that, I feel sorry for you.

Look for a more detailed season recap or two in the coming week.


olson said...

The game, somewhat strangely, felt like the Texas hoops contest from Sat for me. I came into it with fairly low expectations (the SEC is unstoppable, don't-ya-know!) and Bucky was supposed to play the role of the overmatched. Instead they stayed right with them and had a decent shot to win at the end (where of course the basketball team completed the steal).

All in all, a good season. Others have mentioned it, but it was another year where the pre-season hype (justified or not) didn't match up to the on the field production. Similar to '94 et al.

Great point about the 40 wins for the seniors. I noticed that too. It's indeed a good time to be a Badger.

Mr.Man said...

Hey Scott,
As one of the posters at Camp Lambeau, we listed you on there, as per your suggestion. If you want to reciprocate, that'd be great. It's just http://camplambeau.blogspot.com/

Totally agree with your view of the odd playcalls. Also, Lance probably shouldn't have been playing at all. His unbreakable tendency to dance simply does not work against a fast, physical defense. The one good play he had, (the first coming-across sweep) he just ran without dancing. When is that guy going to learn?
I also felt that Chryst fell in love with the pass too much, especially after Donovan got knocked around early and wasn't full operable. The run game had stops and starts, but generally it was working. Cheers.

Will said...

Good recap, Tappa. Looking forward to the post-mortem.

After thinking about it for 24 hours, the only thing I'm bummed out about was the coaching. The dumb timeouts, the weird play-calling, the lack of focus on Beckham at the start (although Graham did have a nice game). You're right, it was sort of like the UNLV game at times. I like Paul Chryst and think he's a good OC, but I think the announcers need to dial down the whole "this guy is one of the best minds in the game, he'll have a head coaching job soon" talk a little.

Two unintentional/annoying moments:

1. Speaking of Chryst, did anyone catch when the shot of him in the booth while the announcers were talking about his abilities? As they are talking, Chryst spits something out of his mouth (looked like chewing dip or some sort of food) and takes a drink. Kind of funny.

2. While the trainers attended to Donovan's injury - which at first glanced seemed ver serious - the cameras cut to TD's concerned family. Two fans - UW fans sadly - answer their cell phone, realize they are on TV and jump up and down and wave to the cameras at the very moment the parents are straining to see what's going on the field. Nice work.