Thursday, April 3, 2014

Badgers Push Through Barrier And Make It To The Final Four In 2014

Badgers Final Four
Ever since Bo Ryan became the head coach at Wisconsin back in 2001, the same things have been said about his Badgers teams on a yearly basis. “Oh they are a solid team, but their style will never translate well come tournament time”. “Will this be the year they finally make a deep run in the NCAA tournament?” “Bo Ryan’s system will not allow them to ever get very far in the tournament until his staff starts recruiting better athletes”. These are just some examples of the various statements made about Bo Ryan’s Wisconsin Badgers teams. I’ll bet he is as tired of listening to them as we all are of saying them. Well Bo, if you are tired of listening to them, then do something about it. It took over a decade, but for the first time ever, he finally did something about it.

The Wisconsin Badgers will be making their first ever trip to the Final Four this weekend under Bo Ryan when they travel to Dallas along with Connecticut, Kentucky, and Florida. I for one had Connecticut losing in the first round. Oops.

I could sit here for the 48th time and tell you the strengths and weaknesses of this team- strength: best starting five in America, weakness: Absolutely no bench to speak of. But that would be a waste of time as you know that already. I will say this. Yes Wisconsin does deserve credit for making this run, but they also got very, very lucky. They were placed as a two seed in what was by far the weakest of the four regions. The number one in that region, Arizona, was going in reverse towards the end of the season. Yet again on Saturday, they will get lucky. They will get an inconsistent Kentucky team instead of say Wichita State, Louisville, Duke, or Michigan.

Let’s not dwell on that though. Right now, Bo Ryan should enjoy this moment. This moment is pure vindication for a man who has done something he has been told for over a decade he could not do, and for that, I say congratulations, you proved me and everyone else who said that to be wrong. Well done.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Badgers Look For Yet Another Quarterback For 2014 Season

Badgers 2014 QuarterbackIt's another off-season, so that means its time for another spring quarterback race for the Wisconsin Badgers. Seemingly becoming an annual event, head coach Gary Anderson and his offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig spoke to reporters earlier this month, raising speculation that they were open to contenders for what was Joel Stave's starting position in 2013. Ludwig told a press conference on March fourth that he was looking forward to a competitive upcoming camp in terms of the quarterback position. He maintained that, as of now, Stave remains the returning starter, though he admitted the junior's season-ending broken collarbone in 2012 and two injuries this year were a concern.

Ludwig's talk of starting quarterback alternatives came as a surprise to many Wisconsin fans and analysts, who generally assumed that Stave would have all-but clinched the position with his dominating advantage of experience. A fourth-year junior, the Greenfield native holds a 13-6 record as the Badgers starter, the position he maintained all of last season and six games in 2012. His numbers as a full-time starter in 2013 were notable, including 22 touchdowns on a 62 percent completion rate. 13 interceptions were a black mark on his stat-sheet, though his performance was enough to garner a berth into the 2014 Capital One Bowl.

In his second year at the helm of the program, Anderson would probably like a starter with at least 500 pass attempts as a Badger. Unfortunately, the former Utah State head coach inherited a team that has seen instability at the position for the better half of a decade. Between his two seasons, Stave leads the four-some competing in this year's race by an impressive 454 throws. Sophomore Bart Houston claims the only other in-game experience on the Wisconsin roster, playing in two games last season with one pass attempted.

Stave and Houston are joined by converted junior safety Tanner McEvoy and incoming freshman D.J. Gillins in the corps’s spring camp this year. McEvoy also competed for the starting quarterback position in 2013's camp, and impressed with his ability to run and throw, but ultimately was moved back to safety after falling behind. At six-and-a-half feet and 223-pounds, McEvoy told reporters that he felt much more confident going into this year's competition with more muscle and a solid year in the program. Ludwig and Anderson reflected that confidence, both acknowledging that they are excited about the prospects advances over a year ago.

Ludwig's thoughts on the young Gillins were a bit more blunt. The Jacksonville native was an early enrollee at Wisconsin just a month ago when he signed with the team on national signing day. Though one of the most touted prospects in the country, Ludwig told reports that Gillins should not worry about becoming the starter his freshman season.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Badgers In The NFL Draft 2014 | Who's Going To Play In The Pro League?

Six former Wisconsin Badgers joined over 300 fellow draft prospects at the 2014 NFL Combine in Indianapolis over the weekend. Chris Borland, Jared Abbrederis, Ryan Groy, Dezmen Southward, James White, and Jacob Pedersen represented this year's class of alumni invited to the coveted showcase, all hoping to raise their stock in June. The six are the most selected from any team in the Big Ten, along with Ohio State who also had six. Every team in the conference had at least one recent graduate playing in Indianapolis. 

Baylor and Oregon also sent a sextet to the combine. Alabama led the nation with 12 representatives, while defending NCAA champions Florida State sent nine. Only 13 programs sent at least five players.

Wide receiver Abbrederis dominated headlines as the likely premier pick coming out of Wisconsin. Already boasting higher stock as a result of an impressive showing at this year's Senior Bowl, Abberderis added 10-pounds to his frame and nearly met his self-proclaimed goal of a 4.4 second 40-yard dash. Only nine wide receivers at the combine managed better than 4.4 seconds. The Wisconsin native's best performances came in the three-cone drill and the shuttle. He placed within the top-15 wide receivers in both.

Blemishing Abbrederis' otherwise solid weekend rankings was a last place finish in the bench press. Struggling with strength at the Senior Bowl as well, he posted just four reps at 225 pounds in the final workout on Sunday.

Also noted in state press was the invitation of stand-out defensive lineman Borland. Earning a Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year award for his senior season in Madison, Borland's future as a pro was very much in question prior to the weekend. At just under six-feet, he is one of the smallest linemen on showcase in-front of the scouts, and his stats in the 40-yard dash, vertical leap, and broad jump reflected that. However, 27 reps at the bench press was good enough for fifth most, and unexpected top-15 showings in the shuttle and three-cone drill seems to have provided some redemption.

Groy joined Borland in the lineman workouts, finishing in the top-20 in all but one event. Pedersen matched that mark in the tight end corps, including a second-place 60-yard shuttle.

White's combine performance among running backs was about what was expected. 23 reps at the bench press put him in the top-five for the event, though lackluster standings in the other drills only strengthened critic's assertions that his overall small size will hold him back.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Badgers Lose To South Carolina In Capital One Bowl

Badgers Capital One Bowl
The Wisconsin Badgers ended their 2013 season with a tough 34-24 loss in the Capital One bowl to the South Carolina Gamecocks on New Years Day. For the first time in four years, the Badgers did not finish the season as the Big Ten champion with a trip to the Rose Bowl, but the Capital One Bowl is still considered to be the best non-BCS Bowl.

The scoring got started when late in the first quarter, Bruce Ellington caught a 39 yard touchdown pass from Conner Shaw to give South Carolina the early 7-0 lead. The Badgers answered right back early in the second quarter when Sam Amerson caught a 1 yard touchdown pass from Joel Stave to tie the game at 7-7. With under seven minutes left in the second quarter, Conner Shaw found Bruce Ellington through the air again, this time from 9 yards out to give the Gamecocks a 13-7 lead. In the final seconds of the second quarter, Jeff Duckworth caught a 3 yard touchdown pass from Stave to give the Badgers a 14-13 halftime lead.

After a Jack Russell field goal on the Badgers opening possession of the second half, South Carolina took momentum and never looked back. With just over three minutes left in the third quarter, Bruce Ellington caught his third touchdown pass, this time from 29 yards out, to give South Carolina the 20-17 lead. On South Carolina’s first possession of the fourth quarter, Conner Shaw threw his fourth touchdown pass of the game, this time to Jeff Adams, to give South Carolina the 27-17 lead. After Kenzel Doe returned the following kickoff 91 yards to cut the South Carolina lead to 27-24, South Carolina went on a long drive that resulted in a 1 yard touchdown run by Conner Shaw to give South Carolina the 34-24 lead.

Stave got injured so Curt Phillips had to come in and finish the game for him(by the way he played even worse than Stave did). Yes Stave did throw a couple of touchdown passes in this game, but he still looked awful once again. As I said before the bowl, it might be time for Wisconsin to find another quarterback in 2014.