Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


52 Pick Up: UW stacks deck against IU

[media-credit name=’GREGORY DIXON/Herald photo’ align=’alignnone’ width=’648′]FB_Lead_GED[/media-credit]BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Paul Hubbard said he hadn't been having enough fun on the football field this season.

Thrust into the role of Wisconsin's No. 1 wide receiver in his first year as a starter, Hubbard began this season in ordinary fashion, catching just 10 balls for 146 yards in four games.

But after talking with parents, coaches and friends, Hubbard said he changed his attitude on the field, relaxing instead of worrying about the game that's supposed to be, well, fun.


"For a minute there, I forgot what it was to have fun out here, to play football in the college atmosphere," Hubbard said. "Everybody was like, 'just go out there and have fun. Be yourself, go out there and do the things that you've done since you were in the backyard playing catch.' I had fun out there today, and it showed."

Hubbard and his Wisconsin teammates had as much fun as they've had all season Saturday, dominating the Indiana Hoosiers 52-17 one week after faltering late in their first loss of the season at Michigan.

An afternoon of fun for the Badgers (4-1, 1-1 Big Ten) was one big headache for IU coach Terry Hoeppner, whose remarkable return to the Indiana sideline just a couple of weeks after having brain surgery was spoiled by his team's inability to contain Wisconsin's previously-struggling offense. The Badgers racked up a season-high 539 yards of total offense against the Hoosiers (2-3, 0-1).

"I'm in shock," said Hoeppner, who after going down 52-0 saw his team muster 17 points in the fourth quarter against UW's backup players. "They out-coached us and outplayed us in every aspect of the game. I bet [Wisconsin quarterback John] Stocco wishes he played us every week.

"John Stocco, wow."

It was high praise for a UW signal-caller who just two weeks ago threw for 85 yards in a game, but Stocco was well-deserving as he exploded on to the stat sheet for the second consecutive week. The fifth-year senior completed 15 of 17 passes for 304 yards and three touchdowns — all before he was removed at the 9:28 mark of the third quarter.

"It was great to get out and start fast," Stocco said. "Any time you play your best game, and I think most of us did that, that definitely makes it more fun."

Stocco picked apart Indiana's top cornerback, Tracy Porter, by completing passes of 21, 42, 35, 58 and 37 yards with Porter in coverage.

"I thought everyone was on their targets, and it was good to go over the top and convert some of those [big plays] early," Stocco said. "Any time you can do that as an offense, it certainly helps."

Hubbard emerged as the primary target for Stocco, garnering the first two of the aforementioned long receptions early on and setting the tone for what would become a six-catch, 122-yard breakout game.

"The first four games, I've been really inconsistent," said Hubbard, who added a 15-yard touchdown catch. "I wanted to come out here and show everybody that I can be a consistent receiver, and [that] when I do, I can be very explosive."

"Paul Hubbard just caught everything today, he was a monster out there," Stocco said.

P.J. Hill, among the UW starters to leave the game before the start of the fourth quarter, had yet another productive day, utilizing 23 carries in gaining 129 yards. Hill also carried the ball for three one-yard touchdown plunges.

"This was one of our most complete games," Hill said. "This week, we had very good practices, and we're going to just keep trying to continue that."

On the defensive side of the ball, the Badgers never allowed freshman quarterback Kellen Lewis to find any sort of rhythm. Lewis went 13-of-29 for 113 yards in the air and gained just 31 yards on 11 carries.

IU junior quarterback Blake Powers, who started all 11 games for the Hoosiers in 2005, came into the game for one pass, which was badly under-thrown, and was promptly removed in favor of Lewis for the remainder of the game.

"There is always disappointment, not only because we lost a football game, but also because it was his first game coming back," Lewis said of Hoeppner's return. "We have to play better, and in the second half, it was just too late."

Another Hoosier who came back to the team during the worst possible week, James Hardy, who was a non-factor against this year's revamped Badger defense. A year after torching UW with seven catches, 157 yards and two touchdowns, Hardy caught a single pass for eight yards after missing the past two weeks for personal reasons.

"We made note of where he was, we know he's a good football player," UW head coach Bret Bielema said. "He's a guy that can change the game as we saw last year. There's certain times where he was on the side with three receivers and certain times where he's on the back side and we definitely wanted to take note of that."

Bielema said Stocco in particular enjoyed the final quarter and a half from the sidelines, joking around on the headset while providing "color commentary" on the Badgers' backups.

"They're a fun group to be around," Bielema said. "After practice [Thursday], all of our coaches were in the locker room, and I said, 'I don't know how many football games we're going to win this year, but this is a great team to be around.' They're just a lot of fun and good guys to be with."

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