Saturday, December 27, 2008

UW-Florida State halftime thoughts

I am absolutely seething right now. At worst, this game has been a draw. At best, we've outplayed Florida State, especially given the field position we had for much of the first half.

And yet they lead 14-3. Unreal ... story of the season. The Badgers came in talking about playing a clean game, and for the most part have, but two big gaffes account for the deficit.

-The play call on the Nicholson fumble return baffles me. We're jamming the ball down their throats, passing to Graham effectively. So what do you do? Split P.J. wide in what Matt LePay just called a "gimmick formation" and try to run a play you haven't run all season. Nice call. Granted, FSU's guy made a nice play to knock it down, but that play should never have been called. It seemed like a backwards lateral at the time, but I would have liked to see more than one replay, and would liked to have seen Bielema challenge the call. Their offense isn't doing anything, so why not?

-FSU's second touchdown, a tremendous catch by Carr, doesn't happen if we show some common sense with clock management at the end of the half. After a first down run, the call is for passes and second and third down? You really think you're going to go 70 yards on that defense in a minute? The play calling saved Florida State a timeout, gave them a few yards of field position, and allowed that score. Very frustrating.

Elsewhere ...

-I see our guys were engaged in pregame jawing with Seminole players at midfield, don't think I've ever seen our guys do that before. Comes with the territory when you play teams from Florida, apparently.

-Surprised there are so many empty seats in the upper deck. Florida State has a lot of fans there, but they seem about as excited about this bowl as our fans do.

-Tell you what: It's awesome to hear that Tomahawk Chop song and hear the chanting during one of our games. That's college football.

-One of the first half highlights was when the microphones for ESPN's announcers went out and we could watch the game with just crowd noise.

-That said, Paul Maguire made a rare excellent point near the end of the first half when he said something like "If I were Bret Bielema I would take all of my passing plays and throw them out the window. You're running the ball for five and a half yards a carry, keep doing it." No kidding! We can run on these guys -- it's not going to be a dominant running performance, but it can be effective. We are obviously not going to pass the ball with any regularity.

-Florida State's offensive line is really small, they look like our fullbacks and tight ends. Our defensive line has really gotten the better of them so far. Matt Shaughnessy is playing especially well in his final game as a Badger. We're doing a nice job of hitting Christian Ponder, got to keep it up.

-It seems that Florida State's wide receivers are yelling at Ponder a lot when his throws are off target, which is often. It seems that our defensive backs have been covering fairly well too, Carr's touchdown catch notwithstanding.

-Graham Gano's punting is ridiculous, those have to been the three best consecutive punts any punter has ever kicked.

-Brad Nortman acquitted himself pretty well too, nice to see his hang time improving. The kick coverage has been pretty good so far, and it seems like the regular lineup of backups is out there.

-Dustin Sherer handled himself with poise in those three possessions that started in the shadow of his own goalpost.

We can win this game. Obviously 7-3, or 3-0, would be better halftime scores, but given that FSU hasn't shown hints that they can drive the ball down the field, we just need two good drives and a clean second half.

I would be perfectly happy if we didn't throw the ball the rest of this game.


lonebadger said...

This team has just totally quit. Unbelievable. There must not be any decent leadership on this team, from the coaching staff or the players. I hate to say it but I think Bret's job will be on the line next season. You can't have your team quit playing with twelve minutes to go, I don't care if you are down 100-0.

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