Monday, September 8, 2008

Wisconsin v. Marshall: Finishing with a Flourish

Fifty-one unanswered points. Usually, this is the sign of a ridiculous game that everyone should stop paying attention to before it's over. But when you're favored by at least 2 touchdowns, we should all expect this kind of offensive output, and a team shouldn't be down by 14 when the output starts.

But that is exactly where Wisconsin found themselves on Saturday, down 14-0 to a lowly Marshall football team that clearly didn't belong on the same field. If there was ever a team that looked ahead to the next week, Wisconsin was it on Saturday. Actually, Ohio State was it on Saturday, but Wisconsin did their best impression of that team. It took a long pass down the sideline to much-hyped but seldom-used Lance Kendricks to ignite the Badgers into a second quarter/rest of game run that would lead to 51 unanswered points. Generally, I still don't know what to make of this team, or how they will finish the season. But based on two weaks of terrible scheduling, these are my thoughts:

1) Travis Who? Travis Beckum sat out for the second week in a row against Marshall, and the Badgers didn't miss a beat. Garrett Graham proved once again that he needs to be guarded...period. Lance Kendricks proved that the Badger coaches know what they're talking about when they switch positions for certain players. On the other hand, Beckum's injury worries me...a lot. Brett Bieliema is notoriously coy with injuries, and this situation screams of deception. Last year it was Andy Crooks as a TE with a hamstring problem, this year it is Beckum. Crooks was supposed to be ready "next week" for about the first 6 weeks of the year...until you never heard about him again. It's only been 2 weeks for Beckum, but I considered myself legimately worried. Here's to hoping that he's 100% for the trip to Fresno.

2) There's a reason our CB's are always 10 yds deep. Except that no one knows why. Mario Goins seemed to take a few pages out of Allen Langford's DB manual and allow numerous 6-10 yard gains be completed right in front of him. Niles Brinkley replaced him and fared a little better with 2 INT's...but only the first one was a great play. The second one was a gift, and he should thank Marshall for that gift. Look for Goins to keep getting significant time, but don't think that allowing 6-10 yard gains on 1st and 2nd down will be acceptable in conference play.

3) 51 Unanswered Points is ALWAYS Impressive. I will never underestimate the fact that UW can put up a lot of points. Ever since Paul Christ returned to campus, the offense has been flowing like the salmon of capestrano (Dumb & Dumber reference for ya'll). Points and yards aren't as hard to come by as they used to be, but 51 unanswered cannot be underestimated. It will always be impressive. Yet it reminds me that UW games this year will always be close in the first half. The strength of the team is the O-line and 3 talented backs, and that combination leads to perceived slow starts and blowouts at the end of the day. Slowly but surely, UW will put up points...and PJ Hill will give way to Zach Brown and John Clay's fresh legs in the second half. Defenses will not be able to keep up with that level of depth, however the first half will always be closer than you'd think. It won't be until the second half that you will see the results of the pounding Badger running game.

4) John Clay is 240 lbs of Man Crush. There's no other way to put it, he's a beast, and every Badger fan cannot help but love him. Watching him dish out forearm shivers in teh 4th quarter gave me nothing but joy on Saturday. Bowling over DE's for 2 TD's, dominating linebackers, and doing it all with fresh legs. What don't you like? Man-crush is the only way to describe my feelings for him. I texted my friend Fuzz after the game to express my man-crush on J. Clay, and his response...."Andy Roddick...move over". Anyone who has seen Roddick at the US Open this week knows how incredible this statement is, and should know that John Clay is the real deal. Beware the Man-Crush in the 4th Quarter.

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