As disappointed as I was last week with our offensive performance in the second half I am equally impressed with the offense this past Saturday against the Hoosiers. If John Stocco continues to play like he has in the past two games he will end up being one of the top in not the best QB in the Big 10. He has played with poise and confidence the past two games and his first half outing against Indiana was near perfect going 13 for 15 for 250 yds and 3 TDs. Our receivers and tight ends made plays and our offensive line protected the QB all day long. Stocco had all the time in the world in the pocket on Saturday to check all his reads and find the open receiver. I loved the gameplan and it says a lot about the intelligence of the Wisconsin coaching staff and how much confidence they have in their players and the staff's ability to put the kids in the best position to be successful. They had an aggressive game plan and they stuck with the plan throughout the game. This could not have been more evident when Coach Bielema called a timeout when Indiana had the ball with 1:17 to go in the first half. After the Badgers got the ball back with 56 seconds left after and an Indiana punt Stocco connected with his tight ends moving the ball into field goal range giving Tyler Melhaff and opportunity to kick a 47 yarder.
OFFENSE IS MORE CONFIDENT...NOW
It was no mystery to the fans that Wisconsin had not been very successful in the passing game. It was also not a mystery to the Hoosiers D either and they snuck those safeties up into the box allowing for a well prepared and thought out game plan of taking what they gave us. The result was Stocco going for 7 for 8 for 180 yards on first downs in the first half. The bottom line is the players have to execute the plan and they did that and then some. The pass also set up the running game with the Badgers averaging 4.5 yards a rush netting 209 total rushing yards. I wrote about how the past week of practice, particularly for the offensive line, would be an up tempo and intensified work week. The coaches had said that it was a very good hard week of practice and it showed on Saturday. The offensive line answered the bell after a very poor performance particularly in the second half of the Michigan game. Rarely did you see Stocco having to scramble on Saturday. In fact John could have ordered the famous Scrambler from Mickey's Dairy Bar and finished it by the time a Hoosier pass rusher would have touched him. The best thing that came out of Saturday's offensive performance was that it instilled some confidence in our young receivers and opposing defenses will now have to look at this film and have to honor the pass and not cheat so much up against the run.
DEFENSE CONTINUES TO SHINE
Our Defense continues to dominate and with the offense moving the ball on Saturday their backs were not put against the wall like they were against Michigan. I was very impressed by our secondary play and those young corners continue to get better week to week. Allen Langford made a big time veteran play when he squared up the Indiana receiver after a short completion to the flat, he stood him up and then stripped the ball making an athletic recovery staying in bounds. The return of the 6'7" James Hardy was non-existent as Jack Ikegwuonu and Langford held Hardy to one catch for 8 yards. The safeties were always in position and did not give up a big play and let one get over the top of them. The front seven were dominant in the first half with Mark Zalewski in the middle and Matt Shaughnessy and Jamal Cooper rushing the edges allowing only six first downs and 127 total yards in the first half. It was good to see redshirt freshman, Elijah Hodge play most of the second half and get some quality reps and experience. He finished tied for a team high six tackles. Two freshman corners, Kim Royston and Josh Nettles also got some quality playing time at the corner position.
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Former Badger offensive lineman/center Derek Engler will be joining us each week for "Centering the Ball" for the remainder of the football season. He will give us a look at the previous week's game from the field. Currently, Engler works for Morgan Stanley as a financial advisor. If you have any questions regarding investments, reach him by email firstname.lastname@example.org . Or reach him by phone (800) 776-7797.