Friday, November 25, 2011

Badgers Face Penn State


Coming into Saturday’s game against Illinois, the Wisconsin football team (5-2 Big Ten, 9-2 overall) had struggled on the road. However, a second half comeback helped exorcise the Badgers’ road demons and sets up a do-or-die matchup with Penn State (6-1, 9-2) Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium.
Defensively, the Badgers were able to come back on Illinois thanks to timely interceptions by seniors Antonio Fenelus and Aaron Henry as well as another by junior defensive back Shelton Johnson. Sophomore linebacker Chris Borland was again able to make an impact by recording double-digit tackles (18) for the sixth time this season in addition to forcing a fumble. Offensively, Bielema credited senior fullback Brady Ewing as well as junior running back Montee Ball with the offensive surge in the second half.
“Montee Ball was our offensive MVP, as well as Brady Ewing. [Brady] had his best game of the year, he was always at the point of attack clearing space for the backs,” Bielema said. “A lot of times Brady is throwing the key block that the running back is able to read and go for yards.”
Runs by senior quarterback Russell Wilson and Ball capped a comeback win that set up a winner-take-all scenario against Penn State (6-1, 9-2) on Saturday where the victor will advance to the first ever Big Ten Championship game to be played Dec. 3 at Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis.
Let's hope the Badgers are playing in Indy next week.  GO BUCKY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Aaron Henry is a leader


Last year, J.J. Watt led the Badger defense statistically, but, most importantly, vocally — on and off the field.
Without a doubt, Aaron Henry is UW’s vocal leader this season.
He may not be able to figuratively carry the city around in the palm of his hand like Watt, but the senior safety is easily one of Wisconsin’s most beloved players.
But while his “yes, ma’ams” and “thank you, sirs” have made him one of the most notoriously polite players you may ever encounter, on the field, he is completely different.
“It’s just a mentality. You have to be able to have that switch,” Henry said. “Being on the field and just walking around here talking to people are just two different things. … The reality of football is it’s a nasty, rough, tough sport. It’s in your face and it’s smash mouth. You don’t go out there to try and make friends with people.”
Henry attributes his well-defined manners to his grandmother and just showing respect to people.
This respect is not just for show. And his genuine personality has allowed him to be one of the most respected players and a captain, in return.
“He’s an over-the-top funny guy, he’s a little vain, he’s a little bit of everything,” sophomore safety Dezmen Southward said. “We’re going to miss him next year.”
“He’s obviously a great player, but I think he’s a much better individual,” junior safety Shelton Johnson said. “There’s a lot of players … that are just players, but Aaron Henry, he’s just an all-around wonderful individual player to be around, and we kind of feed off that as a team.”
While he is a great leader now, Henry’s career at UW has not been the smoothest.
Henry played cornerback throughout his entire life until last year and did not agree with head coach Bret Bielema’s decision to move him to safety.
“I hated it,” Henry said. “I didn’t really like the decision, we kind of butted heads. He always has a player’s goodwill at heart. He’s been doing this for a long time. I didn’t understand it because I had been playing corner my whole life … but after suffering my knee injury and going through a few surgeries, he thought it would be best.”
The Immokalee, Fla., native said he is now thankful for the switch and admits that if he could change things he may have started out at safety — but he will always be a corner at heart.
Let's hope he can help lead the Badgers to a Big Ten Championship.  GO BUCKY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Badgers ready to defend the Axe


It is rare that the week featuring Wisconsin vs. Minnesota arrives and the talk of historical impact in the Big Ten does not center around Paul Bunyan’s axe. That is exactly the case this year, as the devastating facts continue to surface in State College, Penn., and major announcements keep coming from Penn State University.
Legendary head coach Joe Paterno and college President Graham Spanier are out, as are athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Shultz.
The situation at Penn State is virtually unthinkable. It puts football, amateur athletics—rivalries with 120 all-time matchups included—and sports in general into perspective in the most chilling way.
That being said, Wisconsin football players are generally not talking about it and—perspective aside—there are championship ramifications for every game from here out for UW.
The No. 16 Badgers (3-2 Big Ten, 7-2 overall) have enough on their plate without considering the opponent. UW still does not have a true road victory and the next foe has played its best ball of the season the last two weeks, beating Iowa at home and taking Michigan State to the wire in East Lansing.
Consider the fact that Paul Bunyan’s axe is on the line, and head coach Bret Bielema has kept it on the Badgers’ sideline since he took over in 2005, and the current status of each program seems slightly less meaningful.
“You can throw the records out the window because that game is always competitive down to the end and we have to be ready for a four-quarter battle,” said running backs coach Thomas Hammock, who is in his first year at UW after coaching for four at Minnesota.
Hammock coached running backs for three years before becoming offensive coordinator in his last year in the Twin Cities. After former head coach Tim Brewster was fired, Hammock called plays for the Gophers.
He’s not the only member of the team with ties, either. Redshirt junior defensive tackle Brandon Kelly hails from Eden Prairie, Minn., and said he still has a lot of friends on the opposing sideline. He committed to play at Minnesota for nine months before reversing course and joining Bielema’s program.
“I think they went 1-11 and Wisconsin was like, 11-1, and I was thinking to myself, ‘This can’t be right. I can’t be committed here,’” Kelly said. “The coaching staff did a great job recruiting me and I was just so attracted to the campus and the school itself.”
Dating back to 2003, the last four meetings between the teams in Minneapolis have been decided by a total of 14 points. That includes the last loss suffered by the Badgers in the series (37-34 in 2003) and one of the wildest Badger wins in recent history.
In 2005, UW capped an improbable comeback when Ben Strickland recovered a blocked punt in the end zone with 30 seconds remaining, erasing a 34-24 Gophers lead with 3:27 to play.
“I was watching that game and jumping up and down,” said redshirt junior center Peter Konz, who was a student at Neenah High School at the time. “Some of my friends said they were going to leave the house because the game was over and I said, ‘This isn’t soccer, you can score more than one point at a time.’”
The team takes time to talk about the rivalry through the week, and Konz said he has got all the motivation he needs.
“I’ve seen film of when they come run over to the sideline and I never want that to happen,” he said.
I am confident the Badgers will return to Madison with the Axe.  GO BUCKY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

What went wrong with Bucky?


Through the first six games of the season, the Wisconsin football team buried opponents so fast and so early that little doubt about the outcome was left by halftime.
In fact, the narrowest lead UW took to the locker room in the first six weeks was 27-14 Oct. 1 against then-No. 8 Nebraska, and even then the Badgers had just finished reeling off 20 straight second quarter points and had all the momentum.
The last two weeks featured much different stories. Sure, Wisconsin established itself early both times, each in environments as electric as they were hostile. After out-gaining Michigan State in offensive yards 141-61 and generating a 14-0 lead in the opening quarter Oct. 22, the Badgers out-gained Ohio State 105-40 and led 7-0 after a quarter in Columbus. There is not much more to be asked of an offense on the road.
Not much, that is, except show up again for the second quarter.
“We just weren’t playing with urgency at all and that’s what pains us most,” junior running back Montee Ball said. “We feel like we practice with urgency and we just didn’t carry it forward to the game.
The Badgers have not scored a second-quarter touchdown since redshirt sophomore tight end Jacob Pedersen hauled in a three-yard pass from senior quarterback Russell Wilson with three seconds left in the half Oct. 15 against Indiana.
In fact, they have not scored period.  Let's hope that won't be the case the rest of the season.  GO BUCKY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!