Every week Herald Sports will analyze the most recent Wisconsin football game and hand out grades for each position group on a scale from zero to five. Let’s see how the Badgers scored in their final road game of the season against Michigan.
Quarterbacks – 4.5 out of 5
Scott Tolzien was almost perfect … literally. The senior quarterback was 14-for-15 against the Wolverines with his only incompletion coming by way of interception in the red zone. Had Tolzien managed to throw that ball away he’d be looking at a perfect score and you can bet that one throw is one he’d love to have back. Regardless, Tolzien is playing at an extremely high level and was recently nominated as one of five finalists for the Johnny Unitas Award given to the best senior quarterback in college football.
Running backs – 5 out of 5
Same old, same old for the Wisconsin running backs. With John Clay out of the lineup once again, Montee Ball and James White ran for 354 total yards. Ball scored four touchdowns on the day and broke through tackles time and time again. White showed off his big play ability with a 61-yard touchdown run and was named Big Ten freshman of the week for the fourth time this season. At the end of the day, all six of UW touchdowns were credited to the running backs.
Wide Receivers – 3 out of 5
The UW wide receivers were pretty limited due to the Badgers’ tremendous success on the ground, (just one throw in the entire second half) and Nick Toon had a decent day with three catches for 57 yards but the memorable play from the wideouts unfortunately was a mistake. Isaac Anderson fumbled after hauling in a catch early in the second half that allowed Michigan to turn the momentum, but his teammates bailed him out by reasserting control.
Tight ends – 4 out of 5
Lance Kendricks led UW in receiving with four catches for 74 yards, including a big 34-yard catch, but once again the passing game wasn’t much of a factor Saturday. Still, it was a solid all-around outing for the Badger tight ends.
Offensive line – 5 out of 5
It looked like the Wisconsin offensive line was going up against high school kids Saturday. The Wolverines were completely manhandled up front and the UW running backs had plenty of holes to choose from. There was nothing Michigan could do to slow down UW’s running game. Tolzien was sacked just once as the UW O-line paved the way to another big day offensively.
Defensive line – 4 out of 5
J.J. Watt makes big plays in big games. That’s what the junior defensive end is known for, and he showed up in a big way Saturday knocking down a pass and intercepting it himself with the game still tight. Watt and the rest of the D-line gave up yards to Denard Robinson on the ground but they also produced two sacks and did a nice job generating a pass rush late in the game.
Linebackers – 3 out of 5
Mike Taylor had a nice day statistically, recording nine tackles but the linebackers had some trouble containing Robinson once he got past the line of scrimmage. That’s not an easy task for anyone and the linebackers were able to limit big plays on the ground for the most part. Culmer St. Jean’s dropped interception was a missed opportunity that should have resulted in a UM turnover.
Secondary – 3 out of 5
The speedy Michigan wide receivers had a big day against UW. Roy Roundtree and Darryl Stonum combined to total over 200 yards receiving and two touchdowns. The threat of Robinson running made the UW corners off-balanced and there were some big plays given up downfield. Aaron Henry had a nice day racking up a team-high 10 tackles.
Specialists – 5 out of 5
Phillip Welch hit both of his field attempts and punter Brad Nortman finally got some action. After a week where he wasn’t needed against Indiana, Nortman had one punt against the Wolverines and he was able to pin Michigan up against their own goal line.