Friday, November 26, 2010
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010
With just three games left in Wisconsin's regular season, there is plenty of speculation swirling about where the No. 6 Badgers will wind up playing their bowl game.
Bowl games and warm weather aside, the Badgers are just happy to be home for a week. UW (4-1 Big Ten, 8-1 overall) welcomes Indiana (0-5, 4-5) to Camp Randall Stadium for the first football in Madison since Wisconsin knocked off Ohio State on Oct. 16.
The Hoosiers Big Ten mark is certainly not pretty, but they played a seven-point game against Michigan, suffered a three-point loss to Northwestern and would almost certainly have beat Iowa last weekend if wide receiver Damarlo Belcher (65 receptions, 704 yards, four touchdowns) could have held on to a touchdown with under a minute left.
"We don't really see them as a 4-5 team," UW senior linebacker Culmer St. Jean said. "We see them as a 7-2 team that just hasn't had the luck. They're one play away every week."
The Hoosiers have stayed competitive by unleashing a dangerous passing attack, led by senior quarterback Ben Chappell. Chappell is averaging a Big Ten-best 296.3 passing yards per game and has 18 passing touchdowns against nine interceptions so far this season.
The Badger defense saw the capabilities of Chappell last season, as the Bloomington, Ind. native threw for 323 yards and three touchdowns in a 31-28 Wisconsin victory. Unlike recent quarterbacks UW has seen against Purdue and Ohio State, Chappell is a pocket passer. However, according to junior free safety Aaron Henry, that does not make Chappell any easier to play against.
"A lot of guys, once they start to scramble and feel pressure, they have a tendency to not keep their eyes down field," Henry said. "This guy, he'll stand in the pocket and throw a laser."
With any pass-heavy offense comes the opportunity to make plays in the secondary. Entering last weekend's contest against Purdue, the Wisconsin defense had forced just seven total turnovers. Against the Boilermakers, though, UW forced four-all on passing plays. St. Jean said the defense did not change its approach, and that he expects the trend to continue.
"[The four turnovers] really reassure us that if everybody does their jobs, there are going to be opportunities and we just have to capitalize them," he said. "The turnovers are going to come."
Opponents of the Badgers have struggled all season to force mistakes out of UW's veteran offense, but have found little success. Through nine games, Wisconsin has turned the ball over seven times-including just two fumbles lost.
That may come as little surprise, considering the strength of Wisconsin's ground game. That attack will be without junior running back John Clay this weekend though, who is recovering from a sprained MCL suffered against Purdue. Freshman James White appears to be healthy and ready to split carries with sophomore Montee Ball.
The Hoosiers defense ranks near the bottom of the Big Ten in rushing defense (ninth at 166.1 yards allowed per game). Without an elite defensive front, Indiana may have to sell out to stop the run.
"Seeing zone blitzes and things like that is nothing new for us," offensive line coach Bob Bostad said. "We've just got to be ready to handle whatever they throw at us."
Let's hope the Badgers can keep it rolling. GO BUCKY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Wisconsin football head coach Bret Bielema discussed both his team's 34-13 victory over Purdue this past weekend, as well as the Badgers' (4-1 Big Ten, 8-1 overall) upcoming contest against Indiana during his weekly press conference Monday.
Bielema awarded this week's offensive MVP to sophomore running back Montee Ball, who saw increased action after junior John Clay and sophomore James White suffered injuries.
Ball was instrumental in the Badgers' victory, racking up a career high 127 rushing yards while scoring two touchdowns.
"Can't say enough about Montee and what he did … getting himself prepared and stepping in when John [Clay] went down in the second half," Bielema said. "Montee was really special."
The defensive MVP was awarded to a pair of juniors: cornerback Antonio Fenelus and defensive tackle Patrick Butrym.
Fenelus was the Big Ten co-defensive MVP of the week, racking up nine tackles and icing the game with an interception return for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
Butrym, meanwhile, dominated the trenches all game long, recording five tackles.
"[Butrym] probably had the best game in his career to this point," Bielema said. "He just really did a nice job getting off blocks and making plays."
Bielema indicated he was excited to return home this week, realizing how long it had been since the Badgers' last home game-a victory over then-No. 1 Ohio State.
As Bielema reflected back on that game against the Buckeyes, he realized how big of a factor the crowd was in the team's victory, especially the student section. On their last road trip, Bielema stated that it was always a little disheartening to go to different venues and see other student sections filled an hour before the game even started. Bielema then issued a challenge to all UW students.
"Anything we can do to encourage students … If we can get the student section going, I think it would be a very special thing to close out the rest of the year," Bielema said.
Bielema realizes that every game from here on out is critical in the Badgers' run to a possible BCS bowl game, and that run will start this weekend against Indiana.
Indiana (0-5 Big Ten, 4-5 overall) comes into this week's game having just lost an 18-13 nail-biter over No. 16 Iowa. Indiana is an explosive offensive team, ranking 11th in the nation in passing yards per game. That offense is led by senior quarterback Ben Chappell, who ranks first in the Big Ten in both passing yards and completions.
"Chappell has a great ability to throw all kinds of passes," Bielema said. "It's a very difficult preparation. He doesn't get sacked very often because if he does get pressured he's not gonna take that sack, he's gonna get rid of the football. It's a difficult preparation for us."
This will be the 57th meeting between Wisconsin and Indiana, with the Badgers leading the series 36-18-1 overall and 20-8-1 in Madison. Wisconsin has won five of the last six at Camp Randall Stadium.
Lets hope Bucky can keep on rolling. GO BUCKY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!