Trying to cope with last Saturday’s loss, the Badgers are going back to the basics this week.
“There were some poor fundamentals shown, and at times there was a lack of being physical, and there were a number of things that I saw at that game that I haven’t seen before,” said head coach Barry Alvarez. “Our kids, our staff and I haven’t been through anything like that, and you have to address it.”
To address the issues at hand, they will review the tapes in attempt to figure out what worked on Saturday, and in this week’s case, what went wrong. One thing they will not do is change their practice format.
“Maybe we’re asking some of our kids to do something that maybe is not their strength,” said Alvarez. “But to teach something different now and start from scratch, probably wouldn’t be the answer. We’ve tried to tear [the loss] apart already. You can’t just stick your head in the sand and act like it didn’t happen. It happened — nobody liked it — nobody’s used to it.”
So instead of tearing and switching around the offense, the team will focus on the ever-improving defense of Ohio State.
The Buckeyes will bring what Alvarez labels as possibly the best defense his team will face all year. Helping to lead the Badger charge will be quarterback Brooks Bollinger, who is coming off one of his best performances of the year with 222 yards on a 15-of-24 passing effort.
Critics have questioned the decision to keep Bollinger at the helm, but Alvarez hasn’t given it a second thought. The Badgers’ coach said Bollinger will be the starter again next week, and will not be trading off with Jim Sorgi as was done against Penn State and Western Kentucky.
Bollinger and the rest of the offense will now have to worry about a defensive line that doesn’t stand still for very long and a secondary that is prepared to out-jump any receiver it covers.
Senior linebacker Joe Cooper leads the Buckeyes with 28 tackles and two broken-up passes. Having a player such as Cooper at the front of the defensive line will definitely be a worry for UW with starting offensive lineman Al Johnson, the pillar of the offensive line, nursing a sprained ankle from last Saturday. Johnson is still questionable for next week’s game. On the trainer’s table with Johnson is running back Anthony Davis, who sat out last week with turf toe.
“Davis wasn’t 100 percent,” said Alvarez. “Playing him would have just been asking to lose him for the year.”
Stepping in for Davis on Saturday were backs Jerome Pettus and Broderick Williams. The two rushed for 103 yards and zero touchdowns. Bollinger had 26 yards on 12 carries.
With the backfield racked with inexperience and injury, it could set up possibly the best match up of the game if wide receiver Lee Evans lines up across OSU strong safety Mike Doss.
The 5-foot-11-inch junior Doss was a preseason front-runner for the Jim Thorpe award, which is annually awarded to the nation’s best defensive back. In four games this season, Doss has broken up two passes and recovered two fumbles in which he gained 30 yards. Evans, who leads the nation in receiving yardage, will more than likely be double-teamed, which could open up holes for receiver Nick Davis or tight end Mark Anelli, who had a big game last Saturday.