Thursday, December 10, 2009

UW-Hawaii thoughts

Finally got to watch the entire Wisconsin-Hawaii game Wednesday night after watching bits and pieces of it Saturday night during a family Christmas get-together. It was a nice, relaxing time, knowing what happened already. Some thoughts:

-O'Brien Schofield was just a beast, again, with two sacks and constant pressure. J.J. Watt finished the regular season strong, too, with two sacks and a tackle for loss. Those two ended up being the top TFL duo in the country -- did not expect that at the beginning of the season.

-Chris Borland and Louis Nzegwu also had sacks. There is solid hope to have a good pass rush again next season.

-And Borland kicked two extra points! Thought I dreamt that, but the box score and replay confirmed.

-Time of possession edge: 37:57 - 22:03.

-Workmanlike games for John Clay and Montee Ball, although Ball had more negative yardage runs than I would have liked -- 17 yards lost. He did look comfortable as a receiver out of the backfield.

-Scott Tolzien completed 80% of his passes. His accuracy and the pass rush from Schofield and Watt are the two biggest reasons we won nine games this year.

-David Gilreath had a really nice game, scoring on the end-around, making a great comeback on a long pass from Tolzien, and averaging almost 50 yards on two kickoff returns. Did you notice how, on that long pass play, Gilreath caught the ball and the Hawaii defender was standing there with his arms out, and a second later looked surprised he didn't have the ball? Funny.

-Lance Kendricks had a couple nice catches, but what I really liked was his block on Gilreath's touchdown run. Conversely, Garrett Graham was called for yet another hold. It's like he had a target on his jersey this year.

-It was really nice to see Dustin Sherer score that last touchdown, and his teammates' reaction (especially Zach Brown). Many stories have been written about the class Sherer showed in handling his demotion, and it shouldn't be understated. One reason this team achieved so much more than last year's was chemistry and leadership, and a vocally disappointed Sherer could have disrupted that. He didn't, and you can tell his teammates loved him for it.

Coming in I was a tiny bit worried that Hawaii would give us a good game. They were, after all, playing well and playing for bowl eligibility. That we dominated so thoroughly is a testament to the job Bret Bielema and his staff did getting the team prepared and focused.

Since their return, many of the Badgers on Twitter have frequently detailed their longing for paradise, but I think it's finally wearing off as their focus turns to Miami. This will be a good three weeks to get ready for the 'Canes and get the youngsters some additional practice time.

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