Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Advertisements
Advertisements

Badger offense runs with clean slate

“It’s funny, it was the same type of scheme,” Brimmer said of the UNLV defense. “I think Kansas maybe prepared better, I don’t know.”

And with this thought-provoking observation, Brimmer opened a can of worms regarding the Badgers’ offensive preparation and game plan. All pessimism or second-guessing aside, the chances of the terms “Kansas” and “perennial football powerhouse” ever appearing in the same sentence are about as likely as Chevy Chase making another funny movie, so there are many questions that the offense will need to answer this week.

The most itching question will not be the 20 points off of five turnovers, eight sacks, or two interceptions registered by the Rebel defense, but rather the eight overthrows that could have easily changed the complexion of the game. Victory in college football hinges on momentum and the impact of big plays. While there were a few offensive highlights scattered throughout last week’s game, the task at hand for this week will be to string enough of them together — not only to parlay them into points on the scoreboard, but to build enough momentum to keep the other team out of the game.

Advertisements

Principal in building this type of momentum is the ability to sustain drives, another sore point for the Wisconsin offense last week when the offense converted a meager three of 13 third-down conversions. Since the Badger faithful can only expect that turnovers will be minimized and that the backs will correct their pass-blocking mishaps after reviewing film, the offense’s ability to sustain drives will largely determine the game’s outcome.

How fifth-year senior and team co-captain Jim Sorgi responds to such a harrowing defeat will be pivotal in establishing the identity of the Badger offense going into conference play. Sorgi has of course been maligned by his predilection for overthrowing his receivers, which was further exacerbated by a blitz-happy Rebel defense.

“The game plan was there, we knew what they were going to do,” Sorgi noted during Monday’s press conference. “My reads were good. Where I was throwing, the ball was the right place to throw the ball. It didn’t always end up in the right place.”

Any expectation that the offensive game plan of weeks past will be completely thrown out the window for this week’s game are unfounded, but a few kinks in the passing game still need to be refined. Look for the screen pass to remain an integral part of the game plan to foil the pass rush and look for some of the crossing routes that were executed successfully during the UNLV game. But most importantly, there will have to be better judgment by the man under center, be it locating the hot receiver against the pass rush, or simply throwing the ball away to avoid a sack.

“I just want Jim to play and have the mindset he had when we started the season,” head coach Barry Alvarez said. “I really thought that he was very confident. He was very deliberate. He was very decisive.”

Though it is the passing game that has come under siege after Saturday’s performance, the running game nonetheless remains the strongpoint of this year’s offensive unit, and it will largely determine the success of the offense in this week’s game. The offense will rely on the running game to eat up the clock, keep explosive Tar Heel QB Darian Durant on the sidelines, and successfully convert third downs on short-yardage situations. Considering that the UNC defense has already given up a combined 454 net rushing yards in two games, their visit could not have occurred at a more opportune time.

With the status of starter Anthony Davis in doubt, the brunt of the running game will lay squarely on the shoulders of backup running back Dwayne Smith. Smith, a punishing and physical runner, has looked strong in non-conference play thus far and matches up well against a UNC front seven that is less physically imposing than what the Badgers will see in conference play. His ability to run between the tackles and to hold on to the ball will help the running game achieve the aforementioned goals of dictating the game’s pace.

Smith will have a lot to prove in this game (after all it was his two fumbles that resulted in a 14-point swing in Saturday’s game), but there should be little to worry about. Smith showed limited history fumbling the ball, so consider last week’s performance an aberration. And the offensive line, which has been outstanding in run protection so far this season, should help Smith regain his confidence and put a much-needed jump in his step.

While last week’s defeat had dashed the plans of Badger fans secretly hoping to make a trip out to New Orleans on New Year’s Day, this week’s game against UNC hopefully will prove that there is still much to look forward to this season, and any hopes of turning this season around will begin with offensive production. Hey who knows, a trip to Pasadena may still be in the books.

Advertisements
Leave a Comment
Donate to The Badger Herald

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Wisconsin-Madison. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Badger Herald

Comments (0)

All The Badger Herald Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *