ANN ARBOR, Mich. — John Clay’s first carry of the game was a 46-yard rush to the Michigan 5-yard line in the second quarter. His second, a 5-yard touchdown run to complete the drive on the Badgers’ next play. Despite the strong start, though, the freshman carried the ball just one more time in the game as the Badgers’ offense struggled to score in the second half.
“The coaches have a plan, so I follow their plan,” Clay said of his lack of carries. “Everything happens for a reason. The coaches had a plan for this game, so I just follow them.”
After the touchdown run, Clay got just one second-half carry, a 1-yard gain.
As for why Clay didn’t get more touches, Badger coach Bret Bielema didn’t go into much detail.
“I ask our coaches to really try to analyze who’s in the ballgame and what gives us the best chance to win,” Bielema said, “and the players that are in there are the ones they felt did.”
Injuries take toll once again
While Jonathan Casillas looked to be at full strength in his second game back, the Badgers were once again banged up heading into the game against Michigan.
Tight end Garret Graham, who had caught a touchdown pass in each of the team’s first three games, was out with a foot injury, and the receiving corps had been hurting throughout the week leading up to the game.
“If we had to play a game last Saturday we probably would have had seven starters out of the game,” Bielema said. “And that obviously had a big effect on our preparation for this week.”
Tight end Travis Beckum, whose penalty nullified the Badgers’ two-point conversion at the game’s end, also missed a significant amount of time during the week, and his status was still unsure even during the game.
“If they don’t practice during the course of the week, [you] can’t count on them in the game,” Bielema said,
Welch ties school record
After missing his first field goal attempt, it didn’t look like it was going to be a record-tying day for kicker Philip Welch. The freshman would go on to hit four more field goals, all in the first half, to equal the Wisconsin mark for made field goals in a game.
“I can’t say enough about Philip, after missing that first one for him to battle back and connect the way he did,” Bielema said.
Welch’s first attempt went wide from 34-yards out, but the kicker knew he couldn’t dwell on the miss.
“I used that just to focus even more, and you got to have a good game no matter what even if you miss that,” Welch said.
Welch’s last field goal, a 52-yarder, was the longest of his Badger career.
Trickery results in first down
Facing fourth-and-one at the Michigan 34-yard line in the first quarter, the Badgers used a bit of trickery to gain a first down. The punting unit came on the field and after lining up in his usual spot, punter Brad Nortman rushed to the quarterback position and was able to lure the Wolverine defense offside resulting in a Badger first down.
“I did a hard count,” Nortman said. “We thought it was a good opportunity to swing things for our offense.”
The 5-yard penalty added to the yards the Badgers gained on the next three plays, turning what would have been a 51-yard attempt into a 42-yard try for Welch.