Coming off of a dominating 37-0 performance against Purdue Saturday, Wisconsin football head coach Bret Bielema was excited about his team’s performance and is now preparing for this coming Saturday’s showdown at Indiana.
Saturday’s Top Performers
Bielema and his coaching staff recognized several key players in Saturday’s win. Though multiple players starred on offense, the Badgers awarded tight end Lance Kendricks.
“We took the opportunity to recognize some MVPs yesterday,” Bielema said. “On offense it was Lance Kendricks, somebody that continues to make strides and move forward.”
While Kendricks played many roles on Saturday, perhaps the most surprising statistic was the 91 rushing yards he recorded despite never getting a carry in any previous game.
Kendricks’ total rushing yards were more than quadruple his receiving yards.
“When you have a certain player at a certain position with certain skills, I think you have to use that set,” Bielema said of Kendricks’ versatility.
Bielema and his coaching staff seemingly had a much more difficult time picking out just one player to award on defense.
“Defensively, we gave it to three guys who probably played their best games to this point: Dan Moore, J.J. Watt and Devin Smith,” Bielema said.
While Bielema was particularly impressed by the efforts of Moore, Watt and Smith, he stressed that he was most pleased with the play of his defense as a whole.
“It’s not just one guy here or there defensively; it was 11 guys that played pretty well,” Bielema said.
Bielema also recognized the special teams play of David Gilbert, who helped the Badgers in spectacular fashion with a blocked punt in the second quarter.
“On special teams, we gave [the MVP] to David Gilbert,” Bielema said. “He basically played on three of the units and his punt block was exceptional.”
Bielema touched several times on the high level of competition in the Big Ten this year. The conference currently has four teams ranked in the top 25 of the BCS.
“I think that anybody can beat anybody on a given Saturday,” Bielema said. “I think there are certain teams that have more talent than others, but there’s a constant struggle between a number of us to jockey to be that team that can make a special run.”
Many members of the Big Ten community believe the conference is still underrated on the national scale. Iowa, for example, is ranked only eighth in the AP poll, despite remaining undefeated while playing a tough schedule.
“I know, as somebody who has played them, [Iowa is] very, very good,” Bielema said. “The only thing we can do to change [the conference's reputation] is to win.” ?
Hitting the Road
The Badgers (6-2) head to Hoosier country this Saturday for their showdown with Indiana (4-5). Bielema believes Indiana is a better team than their record suggests.
“Indiana’s a good football team that unfortunately has not been able to close out some games,” Bielema said. “Because we have had a little bit of success on them in the last couple of years, when we go over there they are going to be very hungry to play us.”
One of the things Bielema and his staff are preparing for is an offensive attack that employs a variety of formations.
“They run every offense,” Bielema said. “Because of what they can do from an athletic standpoint, they’ve kind of done a variety of different formations.”
The Badgers will also have to be ready for junior quarterback Ben Chappell, who is in his second year as a starter and is fourth in the Big Ten in passing yards.
“We saw [Chappell] a year ago and I think he’s over a 60 percent passer right now, so that’s going to present its own challenge,” Bielema said.
Bielema is optimistic his team’s success against Purdue will translate to more success this weekend.
“Once they taste it a certain amount of times, they want to keep going back to it,” Bielema said. “Hopefully they will be able to do that.”