Saturday, November 8, 2008

UW-Indiana thoughts

Finally, a nice relaxing Saturday where the Badgers score a comfortable win. Indiana is bad, and the few talented players they do have are hurt or hurting, but we took care of business with a dominant performance.

Six-hundred total yards. Three 100-yard rushers. Fifty-five points. Every last one of those things is important -- it reminds these guys that when they play to their potential, it takes a helluva team to stop them. The Hoosiers were not close to being that team today.

-When did I say David Gilreath isn't fast? He isn't a traditional burner, but on that 90-yard touchdown run he looked plenty fast. Otherwise he was remarkably shifty and efficient, and Indiana remarkably inept, on that end-around Paul Chryst kept calling. The best game of Gilreath's career (that punt return fumble aside), much welcomed.

That 90-yarder was a thing of beauty, from the blocking to Gilreath's inside deke that froze the Indiana DB just enough to let him sprint to the end zone.

-When P.J. Hill is at his best, his dancing results in better-than-expected runs. When his dancing isn't working ... well, that didn't happen today so let's just enjoy it. P.J. was at his best, showing patience, balance, strength, and bust. Two good games in a row, and 1,000 yards is actually within reach for him now.

-Still love what John Clay is bringing to the table. He chews up yardage with his long strides, and he shows great athleticism, like when he hurdled that guy today. The coaches still need to figure out a rotation that works out well for both Clay and Hill. P.J. was in a groove in the first quarter but had only one carry in the second.

-And what about Zach Brown? That fourth down catch he made in the first quarter was important for getting us off on the right foot and ensuring we played with the lead all day. I've never see that route out of our offense; maybe from Brian Calhoun.

-Thank got the Big Ten Network didn't have a better view of Chappell's fumble late in the first half. I thought that a different camera angle might have shown that his knee was down. The play stood, and we never looked back from there. Great play by Jay Valai to force the fumble.

-So our offensive line, which was healthy last week finally, got two whole plays in today before Eric Vanden Heuvel was hurt. Turned out it didn't matter, but wouldn't it be nice if we were just at full strength for once?

-Gilreath's first touchdown was called a run, but was actually a pass that turned out to be a lateral. That play earlier was not completed and was a live ball. Better execution would make that a slightly forward pass.

-The backup defensive linemen played well. Dan Moore got a good push. Patrick Butrym made a nice play on a fourth-and-1 stop. Jeff Stehle had a sack late.

-Was it just me, or did Bret Bielema's coat seem like the kind you can get for $10 at Steve and Barry's?

-BTN color analyst Chris Martin was using his full vocabulary today. Particularly impressive was when he described Indiana's wide receivers as "linear" who gave Hoosier quarterbacks a good "catching radius." Huh? I guess most receivers are ... non-linear? And lesser receivers give their quarterbacks ... a catching circumference? Leave it to a Northwestern guy to bring these words to a football broadcast.

-Our kickoffs and kickoff coverage were decidedly mediocre. And what was Mario Goins doing fielding kicks? Let Gilreath handle them all, and block, Mario.

-Other lowlights: Matt Shaughnessy roughing the passer, handing Indiana three points; Dustin Sherer's interception was a terrible pass; a delay of game call after an incomplete pass; 12 men on the field on a late Indiana punt. Thankfully the Hoosiers were bad enough that these weren't critical, but don't let the score fool you, the mistakes are still there.

This win was bittersweet. Again, the opponent was lacking, but it showed that we were capable of overcoming sometimes sloppy play to win in dominating fashion. That hasn't happened much this year.

Now let's keep that Axe!

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