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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Offense struggling to produce for Badgers

[media-credit name=’Derek Montgomery’ align=’alignnone’ width=’648′]stoccojohn_dm_400[/media-credit]While the Wisconsin defense has been nearly flawless in the young season, the UW offense has struggled mightily. Averaging 20.3 points per game, the Badgers are currently last in the Big Ten in scoring production.

Without 11 points from the defense on a pair of safeties and a touchdown return after a blocked punt, the Badgers scoring average would stand at 16.7, four points behind the conference’s 10th ranked unit, Michigan State. Wisconsin’s beleaguered offense has failed to score until the fourth quarter in two consecutive games.

However, a late charge against Arizona has provided hope for the struggling unit. Trailing 7-0, quarterback John Stocco led the Badgers into the red zone with a number of clutch passes and came up with a key fourth-down scramble on a naked bootleg to keep the drive alive. Stocco’s heroics set up a touchdown run from tailback Booker Stanley, who inherited the starting job after senior Anthony Davis went down with an eye injury.


After senior place-kicker Mike Allen missed the extra point that would have tied the game, the Badgers found themselves in need of another come-from-behind scoring drive. Once again, Stocco proved he was up to the challenge. With a string of completions, including a spectacular grab from tight end Owen Daniels, Stocco and the Badgers marched down the field to set up a game-winning field goal for Allen. The struggling kicker came through from 23 yards out and Wisconsin emerged with a victory.

Though he has connected on just three of six field goal attempts this season, Allen has proven himself as a clutch performer.

“He’s had an opportunity to kick two game-winning kicks at the end of the game in his career and he’s made both of them, so when the game’s on the line he’s pretty good,” Offensive coordinator Brian White said.

The drive showed the resiliency of the embattled offensive unit, as the group managed to step up in the face of tremendous adversity and adverse weather conditions.

“We have great kids and they’re really resilient and have phenomenal work habits and we have an excellent core values system that our players believe in and it shows on Saturday,” White said.

The late drive also displayed the poise and confidence of first-year starter Stocco. Faced with his first fourth-quarter deficit of the year, Stocco managed to stage a comeback and lead his team to victory.

Though the Badgers have the lowest-ranked passing attack in the Big Ten, averaging just 139 yards per game through the air, White has been impressed with Stocco’s progression through the first three weeks.

“He’s done a good job with the ball, he’s made a lot of plays for us, and we’re 3-0,” White said. “I couldn’t be happier. I thought he’s managed the game well each and every week and he continues to improve.”

Stocco has taken care of the ball, with just one interception all season, but he has struggled to find his receivers. Stanley, a tailback, leads the team in receptions (8), posting three catches more than the leading wide-out. Jonathan Orr leads the receiving corps with five catches for 71 yards.

Wisconsin’s running game has also faced adversity in the early going. Struggling to replace the injured Davis, the Badgers’ heralded rushing attack has slipped to 5th in the Big Ten (173.7 yards per game).

However, Stanley has provided a spark with a strong performance in the Arizona game, after struggling in his first game as the starter. With 135 yards on 30 carries and a key fourth-quarter touchdown, Stanley established himself as a powerful option in the backfield.

“I believe I’m getting better, getting more confident,” Stanley said. “I’m starting to trust things.”

Stanley rushed for more than 100 yards three times last season, stepping in after Davis went down in week three.

“Booker’s a good player,” White said. “He’s got four 100-yard games under his belt in his young career and there’s not many opportunities to have 100-yard games, so I’m really pleased with his performance and he’s only going to get better.”

However, with Davis on the sidelines the rushing attack has lacked its traditional depth. Joining Stanley in the backfield is a pair of true freshmen who have failed to establish themselves as consistent performers.

After a strong performance in his collegiate debut, freshman Jamil Walker posted 0 yards on five carries against Arizona. Freshman Chris Pressley has not seen the field after fumbling twice in the season opener against Central Florida.

With a depleted running game and a passing attack that has yet to establish itself, the Badgers have failed to move the ball consistently in 2004. White’s unit ranks 9th in the conference in total offense, averaging 312.7 yards per game.

However, the struggling group has found a way to win in each of the first three games. Despite a lack of consistent offensive production, the Badgers have come through at key moments and managed to emerge with the win.

“We play four quarters and we just never stop coming,” Stanley said.

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