Badgers win Big 10 opener

· Sep 24, 2001 Tweet

According to Wendell Bryant, Penn State made a mistake four years ago, and he used Saturday’s game to show them exactly how big of an error it was.

Recording a career-high 4.5 sacks against the Lions to go along with 5.5 total tackles, Bryant showed Penn State and Joe Paterno what they missed by not wanting him on their Lion squad.

“My senior year in high school, I would have killed my dog to come to this place,” Bryant said of wanting to play football at PSU. “I called them … they never called me back. So I had a little more incentive out there today.”

Whatever Bryant’s incentive, PSU’s quarterbacks felt it. Bryant and McGrew combined for 6.5 sacks, and the defensive line as a whole tallied eight. These sacks outnumbered the six total completions recorded by Mills and starting quarterback Matt Senneca.

“I felt good today,” Bryant said. “These are the things you [play for], 110,000 people at Penn State, the tradition and everything, you see the blue-and-white helmet, just to be in these types of games, this is what you play college football for.”

In order to contain some of Bryant’s momentum, the Lions’ continually changed up the offensive line to gain more protection for their quarterbacks, as well as to stop Bryant.

“They were subbing in different people,” Bryant said. “When that happens you just have to keep going.”

Changing up the offensive line or even double-teaming Bryant is nothing new for the Badgers.

“Wendell is a guy that draws an awful lot of attention,” Alvarez said. “Most people double team him and give him extra blocking. Wendell kept coming up with big plays and harassing the quarterback and putting them in predictable situations, which allowed us to do some things on defense. Wendell just kind of took a lot of the game over.”

While Bryant and the rest of the defensive line did shut down Penn State’s offense, Bryant isn’t certain that he necessarily dominated the game.

“You just go out there and play within the scheme of the defense,” Bryant said. “Mr. Alvarez, this is what he’s instilled [in us],” Bryant said. “This is the type of football we know: to play good defense, to run the ball.”

And there was something else that helped this defensive dominance — motivation. Not only did Bryant use Penn State’s lack of interest in him as incentive for playing well, but he also had to back up the frustrations he vented after UW’s loss to Fresno State two weeks ago. After the loss Bryant told the media that the Badgers needed to grow up and play better than they had been in the previous three games. And with Saturday’s career performance, Bryant showed his teammates what he was talking about.

“Wendell backs up about everything he says,” Alvarez said. “He’s been playing very well.”

And as for his dog that he was willing to sacrifice for a spot on the Lion’s roster?

“Yeah, he’s still alive.”


This article was published Sep 24, 2001 at 12:00 am and last updated Sep 24, 2001 at 12:00 am


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