Sunday, November 16, 2008

UW-Minnesota thoughts

Well, it's been a day since our big win over Minnesota. I just got done telling Will the story of the game; as was my intention, he was most interested in the part about Paul Bunyan's Axe. Specifically, he wanted to know how Paul Bunyan died, because he didn't think giants died. Will also thought it would be nice if the Badgers kept the Axe forever.

I agree. Just rallying to keep it this year was an unexpected joy.

So proud of everyone yesterday, from the coaches who didn't bail on what looked like a lost cause, to the players who forgot all the mistakes they'd made and put forth an inspired effort, to the fans who willed them on.

Can't remember when I've been part of a crowd like that. So emotional. So intense. Part of it was the gut-wrenching disgust at watching Gopher fans gloat over their team's first-half dominance. Part of it was desperation to get bowl eligible. Part of it was just natural excitement over the action on the field (two safeties in a row?). Part of it was watching the Gophers try to co-opt Jump Around as their own (how dare they?).

At the end, everyone was watching the crowd of players with the Axe, but I couldn't take my eyes off John Clay, who had grabbed a giant Wisconsin flag and was parading it around Camp Randall. Here was a redshirt freshman who represents the future of our program showing genuine enthusiasm over the moment. He was enjoying it as much as the rest of us, which is awesome.

On to the game.

-Can you ever remember a receiver having a career game that included three drops, including one for a sure-fire touchdown? Good for Isaac Anderson for shaking off the dropsies to be the playmaker at wide receiver that we desperately need. Nick Toon is showing promise too.

-P.J. Hill had a deceptively good game, aside from the fumble. He's had a solid stretch these last several weeks, and is in position to crack that 1,000-yard mark.

-When Niles Brinkley intercepted that pass on Minnesota's last possession and started running around, did anyone not think that, given the way this season has gone, he was going to fumble and the Gophers were going to drive down the field and either tie it or win it?

-Philip Welch's field goal to start the second half just barely made it over the crossbar. Had he not made that kick, I don't think the rest of that second half happens.

-Good time for Mike Newkirk to have the game of his career, wasn't it?

-How about a rundown of some of the head-scratching mistakes we made? Clay's fumble. Shane Carter's offside penalty on the Gophers' two-point conversion (come on man, think!). Dustin Sherer taking that sack when he was out of the pocket with a clear lane to throw the ball into the stands! The blown coverages that led to Minnesota's second and third touchdowns. Allowing that fourth-and-18 conversion. Blowing more third-and-shorts. The botched field goal attempt that would have put us up 10-0. And yet ...

We're in position to play in a decent bowl, maybe even win eight games this year.

And we keep the Axe.


Anonymous said...

I spent the better part of Sunday clicking the refresh button, waiting to read about the trip to Madison. Glad you made it back in one piece - and with a victory. Austy

ruffian96 said...

This may seem like a fairly dumb question but it's something I wondered about but have never seen confirmation of it anywhere. I've always assumed Nick Toon was the son of former UW and NY Jet great Al Toon. Is that correct?

Scott Tappa said...

Yep, Nick is Al's son. Al is an investment banker in Middleton.