Sitting on the sidelines in pads and a baseball cap, Brooks Bollinger watched as Wisconsin lost a 10-point lead at the half to fall to No.19 Fresno State 32-20.
On the field was Jim Sorgi, the backup-turned-starter that replaced Bollinger when he was sidelined with a bruised liver. Although Bollinger was given medical clearance to play in Saturday’s game, Alvarez kept him out of action and allowed Sorgi to start the third game of his career.
In the first half, Sorgi performed well, giving the Badgers a 10-point lead on 8-14 passing for 138 yards and one touchdown. His success began on the game’s opening drive, when he connected with Lee Evans for a 24-yard reception. Anthony Davis ran the ball downfield for the Badgers on a 43-yard rush, and two plays later Sorgi himself ran the ball in for the final yard and six points.
On the next Wisconsin possession, Sorgi found Evans again downfield and completed a 53-yard pass for a touchdown and another Badger score. Placekicker Mike Allen added in six points of his own after connecting on two field goal attempts of 37 and 50 yards to close out the half.
That’s where the offensive production ended for the Badgers.
When Wisconsin came out of the locker room, all of their offense seemed to have stayed behind. The Badgers were held scoreless in the second half, with Sorgi completing only five of 16 pass attempts.
“I don’t really know what happened from the first and second half,” Sorgi said. “I think they probably put a little more pressure on us and we made some mistakes, and that’s what happened.”
Also included in Sorgi’s second-half statistics were two interceptions.
“[Interceptions are] mistakes, and they’re costly,” Sorgi said. “I made the wrong read, I made the wrong throw, I should have made a better throw, whatever it was it was my fault. I’m just going to have to live with it and watch film and see what I did wrong.”
What contributed to Sorgi’s poor numbers and misreads was the pressure of Fresno State’s defensive line. The line blitzed Sorgi, sacking him three times, and gave him little time to read the field from the pocket.
Whatever the reason for the quarterback’s errors, Sorgi takes responsibility for his play, and expects that next week he will resume his role as Bollinger’s backup.
“If Brooks is healthy, he’s the starter,” Sorgi said of next week’s lineup. “I haven’t had a lot of luck starting, [zero] and three now [with losses against Purdue, Oregon and Fresno State]. Brooks was the starter before he got hurt, so I’m sure he’ll be the starter now that he’s back, and I’m sure that I’ll get some time. Maybe not the time that I want to get, maybe not a lot of time, but I’ll get some time. And just like I said before I started starting, my role on this team is to go in when Brooks is not there and just make plays, and that’s all I’m going to do.”
Following his team’s loss to Fresno State, Alvarez was not as certain as Sorgi that Bollinger would be the starter next week. Alvarez said Bollinger will start getting more reps this week and that he and Sorgi will trade off running the offense during practice, and that a decision will be made later in the week as to who will start against Western Kentucky.
But when it comes down to the logistics, Sorgi is fairly certain his role as starter will have to wait for another season.
“You base a quarterback on whether or not you win,” Sorgi said. “I’ve come into a couple of games and won, but I haven’t been able to get the ‘W’ when I’m starting. Maybe it’s something mental on my part or something like that, but hopefully one of these days — I’m only a redshirt sophomore, I’ve got the rest of this season, two seasons left — hopefully I can do something. I’ve got to win a game if I plan on being quarterback.”
You’re definitely upset after a loss. It’s always in your head, especially today, but when tomorrow comes you’ve got to watch the film, you’ve got to learn from it and make sure you don’t make the same mistakes. The one thing is, being a senior and being a captain, I know we’ve got to keep this team together, because if the team breaks and we start pointing fingers, it’s really going to go downhill from there.
Make sure they have the confidence to keep playing. Because if they start getting down and start doubting themselves, then they’re only going to get worse. We just need to give them confidence. And the senior guys, we just need to step up a little bit and make plays.
When it’s your turn to make a play, you’re expected to make the play. The conversations tomorrow aren’t going to be ‘oh, well, we had a mental breakdown.’ If it’s your turn to make a tackle or make a play, you have to do it.