Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Stocco shows poise in solid performance

[media-credit name=’DEREK MONTGOMERY/Herald photo’ align=’alignnone’ width=’648′]Bernstein2_dm_416[/media-credit]One of the biggest questions heading into this season for the Badger football team was the progression of junior quarterback John Stocco. Would the second-year starter be able to hold the team together? How much better would he be after last year’s mediocre effort?

Did Saturday’s 56-42 victory over Bowling Green provide a definitive answer on Stocco? No, but his performance was respectable.

“He knows what he is doing, and he had a great camp,” fullback Matt Bernstein said.


Sure, 8-of-10 passing for 116 yards with one touchdown and one interception is not spectacular, but those numbers aren’t terrible, either, when you consider the Badgers ran the ball 62 times.

Stocco was efficient. His interception was his only passing error. Though he should have slid to avoid the vicious hit he took scrambling for a first down late in the first quarter, you have to admit it was a courageous effort.

“John’s a tough guy,” head coach Barry Alvarez said. “I don’t think anybody on our team has ever questioned John’s toughness or his competitiveness.”

Williams sets Badger record

It was also a good start for senior Brandon Williams, as the senior made his mark returning kicks and punts, as well as receiving in Saturday’s game.

He changed the momentum of the game early in the second quarter when he returned a kickoff 85 yards, setting up a one-play drive resulting in 7 Badger points. In doing so, Williams set the record for career kick return yards, breaking Nick Davis’ mark of 1,778 return yards.

“It was real big because I only got one shot,” Williams said. “I had to make something happen, and it doesn’t happen like that often. It was very exciting.”

The play was also selected as one of Pontiac’s Game-Changing Performances, to be voted on by fans this week.

Williams made an impressive punt return just minutes later, zipping in through traffic to make a running catch and 19-yard return. Unfortunately, the Badgers could not capitalize.

“I thought his kickoff return really gave us a lot of life. It gave us the momentum,” head coach Barry Alvarez said. “Then, to give us another chance on a pretty gutsy punt return … Brandon made some plays, and Brandon’s going to make some plays.”

Williams enjoyed being able to return punts after watching Jim Leonhard hold the starting spot for the last three years.

“I’ve been looking forward to it for three years now,” Williams said. “I’m very excited. I can return punts. The first thing is fielding them and I can get to any punt anywhere on the field.”

Williams also caught three balls for 41 yards — the most by any UW receiver — in the victory.

Offensive line opened big holes for UW backs

The effort of the offensive line is often lost in the spotlight of big games by running backs. In the Badgers’ 388-yard rushing performance, it was not easy to miss the holes UW’s line opened up.

“[The holes] were huge,” junior Brian Calhoun said. “Me, coach Alvarez, anybody in this room could have run through them.”

The offensive line, which lost three starters from a year ago, showed great strength and had a huge impact in the victory.

In fact, there were times when center Donovan Raiola, many times used as a pull blocker, made his first block more than five yards downfield.

With his punishing hits, senior fullback Matt Bernstein may just as well have been an offensive linemen Saturday.

“I thought they made some gaping holes,” Alvarez said. “I was really proud of them. You didn’t see too many people running free.”

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