Saturday, December 27, 2008

UW-Florida State thoughts

Just read lonebadger's comment on the halftime post, and wanted to throw this statement out there to start the recap.

I am not embarrassed by this loss.

Agree or disagree.

Florida State was the better team and deserved to win this game. But they sure as hell weren't 29 points better, and with the exception of a couple plays proved the Badgers belonged on the same field as the team almost everyone picked to beat them.

Because, at the risk of being That Guy Who Bitches About The Officiating, if two calls go our way, this thing doesn't snowball out of control into a rout. If two calls go our way, we stay with our effective game plan and who knows what happens.

One of the calls was questionable, the other outright horrible.

-The first came when Jay Valai appeared to have created a turnover, either an interception or a fumble, off a Ponder pass. The ultimate call may very well have been the correct one -- the replays did not seem to indicate either way -- but my question is if the call on the field is Wisconsin ball, how did those replays show enough visual evidence to overturn the call?

As we know, FSU then went on a painfully long touchdown drive in which our secondary seemed to forget Carr was out there. That third-and-19 conversion where Carr was open for 20 was just inexcusable, we didn't have a guy within five yards of him. He absolutely ate us alive.

Florida State's offensive line also played much better in the second half.

-So that touchdown made it 21-6, even after P.J. fumbled, we held them, and a methodical drive running the ball could have made it a one-score game. Instead, Graham Gano slips after punting and Louis Nzegwu gets flagged -- not just for running into the kicker, but for roughing the kicker, a 15-yarder. When he didn't even touch the kicker!!!

Worst call I've seen in quite some time. The ref was right there. What was even more galling was Gano laughing his ass off on the sideline afterward, and the announcing crew laughing along with him. FSU scored quickly thereafter and the game was over.

If those two plays go our way, or even one of those two, the complexion of the game is totally different. We're not forced to pass and allow Florida State's defensive line to tee off on Sherer, leading to another FSU defensive touchdown. We can keep running the ball, and we've got a chance.

Add that to the two frustrating things from my halftime post, and winning was a impossibility. As Lucas and Lepay just said on the postgame, this team isn't good enough to overcome its mistakes against good teams.

So I disagree with lonebadger, I don't think this team quit. I think the accumulation of unfortunate events of this game, maybe from this entire season, overwhelmed them against a team that had the talent to take advantage. Whether or not that's quitting is up for debate, but those last few touchdowns the Seminoles scored would have been allowed by a lot of teams.

-Seems that Gano was named player of the game, what a joke. His punts in the first half were tremendous, but Florida State never scored as a result of the field position he gave them. I suppose his non-collision with Nzegwu was a turning point in the game, but there were probably five Seminoles more deserving of the honor.

-P.J.'s key fumble looked familiar -- he's fighting for extra yards, gets bent in an awkward position and gets hammered. Not sure why he ends up exposing himself like that so often, but it would be nice if he'd stop.

But he had a nice game with 9.3 yards per carry, 139 total yards. I really hope he comes back, he and Clay will be a terrific 1-2 punch next year.

-I liked that we ran the ball on our first 17 first downs. That's what we have to get back to: Line up and pound the rock. Here it comes, if you can stop it, more power to you.

-How many unsportsmanlike conduct or personal foul penalties did Florida State end up with? Classy.

-One of the gomers in the booth screamed "They have not seen this kind of speed!" during Florida State's second fumble return. Bull. Penn State was every bit as fast as Florida State (similar results against Wisconsin), and Ohio State was on defense. Overall, FSU was probably the fourth-best team we played this year, throwing Iowa ahead of them as well.

On this speed thing: Florida State was indeed quicker, but that didn't decide the game. It was Carr, who is no burner, galloping to wide-open spots in our defense. It was our offense being forced into predictable situations by a large deficit. Or it was our offense getting too cute.

When we ran the ball straight ahead, we did very well. That was how we could negate their speed advantage. Unfortunately external forces got us out of that strategy.

The constant harping on the speed disparity between the teams, both before and during the game, was lazy reporting and analysis.

-As predicted by our Florida State friends our tight end was able to do some things, as Graham had 62 yards receiving.

-Nice to see us get a touchdown at the end, Sherer made a nice pass to Elijah Theus.

-Was glad to see Bielema let the seniors finish the game on defense, they deserved to see it through. This was a disappointing season, and a disappointing end to it, but those guys gave a lot to this program.

I've got plenty more thoughts on this season on the whole, and the state of the program, that I'll write about in the days to come. For now, I'll just spend Saturday night disappointed for the sixth time in the last three months.


Tyler Feuling said...

Tough, tough game to watch. Probably one of the most unenjoyable games to watch in a long time. I hate losing, but still come away enjoying seeing the badgers play (in washington it's sometimes scarce), but I would rank this loss more disappointing than the MSU game in terms of how i felt afterwards. Im glad someone said that about the announcers repeating the speed, speed, speed thing. Granted UW is not the fastest team (Half the RB's in the country would have scored on PJ's big runs), but like you said, PSU has just as much speed albeit with similar results. I feel like today's game was a microchosm of the season - a few plays here and there and instead of playing FSU in the CS Bowl, we're playing in the Capital One Bowl. A few plays here and there today, we're in the game and maybe even ahead.

Going in to next year, the problems are at least clear. i told my dad before the game, we needed touchdowns instead of field goals. Now, I know that this kind of insight is one in a million, and he looked at me like i just told him 2+2=4. But this season, namely the Michigan game, we settled for field goals instead of TD's, and that lost it for us in the end. Same as today.

My dad said at the end of the game that he wasn't sure of Bielema. I really hope this doesn't turn into the Bielema blame game, because honestly its ridiculous, Bielema is the right man for the job...right? I'd like to get your thoughts Scott.

I really wish I lived closer to (or in Madison) to get more of the inside scoop for the badgers...but i dont, and I want to thank you scott for this blog because honestly I have never been able to follow badger sports this closely. Keep up the good work and Go Bucky.

Edmund said...

I'm disappointed the Badgers, whom I always remember doing well in bowls under the previous regime, couldn't have made more of a game of it. The talent difference, I agree with you, isn't nearly so great as the score indicates.

This is a team in decline. Time for Barry to bring in a Mark Dantonio-type to right the ship.

Jon said...

Bring back Harvard White! Bring back Jeff Horton!

Horrible play call on the gimmick play... but the truth is, Chryst is probably a better offensive mind than anyone that served under Barry.

A brutal afternoon, but not nearly as brutal as watching the Michigan game earlier this season.

Here's to next season...

Scott Tappa said...

I watched a replay of the first fumble return for a touchdown, and it was indeed a backwards lateral, good call. Thing is, Nicholson didn't look any faster than a healthy Casillas ... speed, shmeed.

Scott Tappa said...

Thanks for the comments everyone. Tyler, in regards to your last question about BB, in a nutshell my thoughts in a nutshell are this: Bielema can be the right man for the job, but he needs to learn from his mistakes as a game coach and as a staff assembler. Whether or not he does will be apparent in 2010, and if this program is floundering then, it might be time for a change.

Mr.Man said...

I can't bring myself to blog about this game just yet, Scott. I didn't want to ruin the long holiday weekend. My issue with this team is-- I just don't see a lot of players developing or emerging. And that frightens me. It seems like Barry got worse talent, but he really coached it up. Bielema seems to get mildly better talent, but guys aren't improving. Okay, some of them are (Pleasant, Valai, Langford, Graham), but not enough to make a difference.

Scott Tappa said...

Great point, Man, and that's a crucial point of a somewhat long post I just finished writing that will appear tomorrow. In a nutshell, look at the senior class and tell me when they peaked. For almost all of them, the answer is their sophomore year. That isn't right, and has to be fixed.