Friday, September 18, 2009

Scoreboard watching

Wednesday night I was watching some show on the Big Ten Network where Dave Revsine was interviewing John Clay. The theme of the show seemed to be breaking down plays on film, a la Ron Jaworski, although the level of analysis does not reach Jaws'.

Revsine asked Clay to break down his lon touchdown run against Fresno State, and John didn't have much to say. Because, basically, John took the handoff, ran through a huge hole, and then ran faster than anyone on the Bulldogs' defense.

He did say, though, that he looked up at the Jumbotron in the north end zone at Camp Randall, saw himself slowing down, and veered off a bit to keep separation. I'd read stories about guys doing that, but never a player at Camp Randall. I laughed, thinking about how far we've come in such a relatively short period of time. When we were in school, the most sophisticated use of the scoreboard was the animated "check your drink for bees" and "block that kick" prompts.

As for tomorrow's game, I'm looking forward to it. Wofford apparently runs the option, which was my favorite offense as a young college football fan in the 1980s. I loved Oklahoma under Barry Switzer. Jamelle Holieway was my favorite player; when I played football in backyard or a nearby park, I was him or Jerry Rice. When he got hurt in 1987, I was crushed. In art class that year, I drew a picture of him standing, with crutches, on the sidelines of the Nebraska game.

OK, too much information ...

Anyway, the option is fun to watch, but it's got to be a bitch to defend. With all the ball fakes and sleight of hand, you've really got to watch close, as Cal Poly showed us last year. So, you ask, why does Tappa love the option but hate the Spread, which employs many of the same principals? Easy: the option combines precision and athleticism with an emphasis on road-grading lines and power.

That said, if Wofford comes into Madison and pulls off the upset, I will rip up my Jamelle Holieway drawing and never try to run the Wishbone on Madden '95 ever again. They appear to be missing their best running back, but I'm guessing they have similar players to plug in.

On our side, I want to see us run for at least 300 yards. Scott Tolzien's passing proficiency thus far this year has been a pleasant surprise, but if we're going to win in the Big Ten, we've got to get back to Wisconsin football, anchored on offense by the run game. Hopefully John Moffitt will be back at center, but I'm not counting on it. Travis Frederick or Peter Konz are fine fill-ins, but we need Moffitt to beat Big Ten teams, and he needs to get some game work before Michigan State.

Defensively, I see O'Brien Schofield having a bunch of big hits in this one, even if some of them come on Wofford's quarterback shortly after he pitches the ball. The key in this one will be our linebacker play, let's see how disciplined those guys are.

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