Coming off the heels of the monumental victory over top ranked Ohio State, optimism is high!
I would suspect that it will remain high after today’s loss. I have been convinced this team would lose this game all year, I remain so. I also remain convinced that UW will play extremely well today. The Iowa-Wisconsin matchup has become one of the better ones in this league, particularly with the demise of the Michigan-Ohio State matchup. The Battle for the Bull is tied at 41-41 all time, with Iowa having won the last two.
What will decide the battle for the heartland bull? Quite simply the gap between these two teams at this point is probably the health of Wisconsin and the strength of Iowa’s defense. UW may be without Nick Toon, they are without Jordan Kohout, not to mention the continued absence of Chris Borland. This will be classic football, power running, no nonsense, no spread, no trickery…line up and hit each other in the face.
Here’s how it will go: UW’s offensive line can push Iowa around. At the end of the day, who ever turns it over will lose. Both teams figure to move the ball, long, arduous, physical drives. Ricky Stanzi and Iowa have a fine passing game, and can run it. Tolzein and Wisconsin can throw it, and have a superb run game. UW figures to try and replicate the game plan from Saturday and keep Stanzi on the bench. They will probably succeed in some measure–but at the end of the day there will be a turnover that costs this game. Wisconsin is simply not as sound as Iowa is on defense. I like Wisconsin to battle and make this one of the better games, but the game is in Iowa City and the game will be tight until late. I like Iowa by a field goal. No letdown, I suspect Wisconsin will remove themselves from BCS contention but gain respect in the process.
Iowa 20 Wisconsin 17.
ESPN.com college football writer Pat Forde is on record in calling for a tight UW victory. I’m going to join him. Here’s why:
1. Night Football: As a former season ticket holder during the height of UW football greatness, I had several opportunities to see night games here. Scott Van Pelt once commented that Madison is the best college sports town in America…he hasn’t seen a UW night football game. They have been rare, but when they happen…look out. I remember the game in 1996, when tOSU blocked the field goal late, Lorenzo Styles had 21 tackles, Donny Brady was horrendous, the game was a loss, but the atmosphere was electric. I expect that to continue Saturday. Those types of atmospheres are rare and must be taken into account.
2. There is little reason to pick Wisconsin over Ohio State, which looks like the nation’s best team. One reason has to be the fact that the Wisconsin offense unlike any that tOSU has dismantled can actually run and throw. They are a run team first and foremost coming at #11 in the nation. They have fine running backs, a huge OL, and a crafty playcaller. But unlike the doormats that tOSU has pounded in conference, both Illinois and Indiana are awful and are either one dimensional as in the case of Indiana or none dimensional as in the case of Zook is to be fired in December Illinois. White and Clay are the types of backs that can beat an OSU, they have diversity on this side of the ball, great TE play, and solid QB play. The play of Nick Toon must improve, I will call him out right now. He’s been poor, to put it kindly.
3. Bret Bielema: what? Bret as a reason for victory? Yep, he’s had one victory in many chances against a top 25 opponent…it has to happen sooner or later. Saturday is later.
Not a real convincing case for victory, but consider that UW has traditionally defended tOSU well. They physically whupped the Buckeyes last year in Columbus only to fall short as a result of a pair of pick sixes by Tolzein. Those were devastating. That game should have been a Buckeye loss. This team offensively seems to be better suited to finish. Defensively, there are worries all over the field. Wisconsin on defense can be solid for 15-20 plays in a row and then lay an egg for an entire series, I hope they can be more consistent Saturday. UW’s run defense has been solid over the first 6 games, they need to be more consistent in coverage and generate some pressure versus Pryor in order to have success. It is this side of the ball I’m worried about. Not to mention that the UW special teams have been butt bad at times, horrendous in all non-kicking related areas. OSU traditionally is outstanding in this area, UW will need to match them in order to be successful.
Prediction: Clay and White both break the seal. OSU has gone 11 games without allowing a 100 yard rusher. Saturday they give up 2. Wisconsin can overpower the OSU DL and this will be the key factor in the game as UW keeps Pryor off the field with ball control. A Goose Island IPA would go great with this victory, that prediction is assured!
UW: 24 tOSU: 20
We bashed much in our previous post. Here’s a couple big positives from the game.
James White: he just continues to impress. With Clay and Ball committing to be slow, and not explode through holes, Bielema is right: James White is a great change up. Maybe its time that he be the fast ball and the others be the change up.
J.J. Watt: He played with purpose and commitment. His play was by all accounts superb, statistically a great day for him. He continues to be a great leader. When his time is done here, J.J will have high NFL hopes.
Umm…that’s really it. I’m watching the game now, not good.
Yesterday I DVR’d the game and committed to watching it after the fact without knowing the results. I had a prior conflict, I was jacked, I thought it would be a great game! I wandered into a place in the waning stages of the game, and boom…learned of the outcome. I was initially pissed. I read and heard more about the game before I committed to watching it and then saw Gladiator on. I thought, you know…I’d rather watch something where someone is committed, hard working, and lives up to this ability. Piss on it. So I’m writing without having watched it. But despite that, I have seen parts of the game, read about, and heard about it. So here are some snap judgements.
1. If Bielema doesn’t hire a special teams coach, I’m done with this program. They are woeful. Their returns are pitiful, they have strong specialists, yet the units are outlandishly bad. They give up impactful returns week in and week out. I’ll hang up my badger football gear until he coaches his way out of town. If football has shown us anything in the past five years in this state it is that SPECIAL TEAMS IS IMPORTANT. This is killing this program.
2. Good news/bad news: John Clay will be back. Good news–John Clay will be back, hopefully in the form of last year. Bad news–the John Clay that we see walking through holes is so pedestrian that if the NFL draft were 112 rounds I wouldn’t pick him.
3. OL: I thought this group would just dominate…I wasn’t alone. Most had this group as the nation’s best. Gabe Carimi has been poor by his standards, Josh Oglesby, is injured, disinterested, and lazy. All John Moffitt seems to do is give quips and quotes to the media. I did like his “I’d break a sweat pealing an orange” comment, how about this one. Maintain a block.
4. Secondary: this needs to be a primary need. Year after year, this program recruits under recruited players from football hotbeds thinking they’ll find gold. Line up and land an elite recruit at this spot, our secondary is poor. I know, I know, Jamar Fletcher was off the recruiting radar…so were the rest of these guys. I see a pattern.
5. Defense: if I hear or read about Dave Doeren being a genius one more time. I’m fining the next person 450 yards, I mean dollars. This defense has been suspect all year. Now they’ve added a nice new wrinkle, never getting off the field on third downs. Yesterday is was 9 of 18, many qualifying as third and long. Nice.
So a season starts with high hopes for a BCS birth and then you limp through the non-conference, and you get pummeled at your own game in the big ten opener. Nice. One analyst this morning has them targeted for the Insight.com bowl. Seems a far cry from the Orange Bowl matchup some were touting. At least now we kinda know why.
On a side note, for anyone who watched Iowa pummel Penn State with execution and a defense that was just flat out unforgiving and ALWAYS IN THE RIGHT SPOT…remember this: several of you were laughing at me because of how I touted Norm Parker, and Kirk Ferentz as the Big Ten’s best. Keep in mind UW and Iowa are mirror images, they recruit against each other, they have similar academic requirements, similar athletes, and yet Iowa almost NEVER beats itself and can win big games. Now comparing someone to Bielema as a coaching yardstick is like grabbing Cher for a comparison about musical ability–but I will be accepting apologies for how those remarks were laughed at.
It was stated earlier this week in the Packer-Bills Preview…don’t bring a knife to a gun fight. With all due respect to the anemic Bills offense, that analogy is so far over the gap between the UW coverage teams and the ASU return teams it isn’t even funny. So we’ll just use a visual analogy. On the left is the UW coverage teams (not Clint Eastwood–great actor, great movie…) on the right is the lovely star of Modern Family, representing the ASU return units. This almost cost the game and potentially a BCS berth.
I also have a few questions I need answered in the coming weeks about this football team:
1. Why is it that UW is one of the rare teams in the big ten without a special teams coach?
2. Why is it that John Clay can play one play at a time before he needs a 20 minute break?
3. Where is the leadership along this OL?
4. Why does Kyle Jefferson get reps? I’m sorry but watching him short arm every pass across the middle is understandable after that near decaptitation 2 years ago, but he is no longer an option as a result.
5. Why does Isaac Anderson catch the ball and stop running so often?
6. How different will this defense look after losing Borland? How long will he be out?
7. How good is Lance Kendricks?
8. When will this team tackle like a big ten team?
9. Can Louis Nzegwu build off his fine performance?
10. Can I get tickets to tO$U game?
Do the Badgers suck? Well…in the pages of this blog, you know my preseason opinion was clearly no. I still feel there are the second best team in the big ten and when the dust settles they’ll play in the BCS series. The better question is what is going on with this team?
- Schedule: Michigan is a good example of a team that can ascend through a competitive schedule. UConn has been a developing program, they opened the big house with some renovations and then they play their historic rival, all while introducing America to the current Heisman frontrunner. Wisconsin on the other hand, opens with a home game 2000 miles away at like 1:00 in the morning in front of a small TV audience on the Versus channel which I didn’t even know existed. They began the game by punching UNLV in the face and then malaise seemed to settle in, they seemed bored and began this disturbing trend of turning it over inside the five. They return to Camp Randall for a early morning game with San Jose State. Only thing most diehards could tell you about SJSU is that Packer James Jones came from that school. No rivalry, no history, a game of little interest, that saw empty seats at Camp Randall. Result? Badgers punch SJSU in the face early, fumble inside their five trying to score and then go into a haze for the next 30 minutes. Bottom line remains, this team won’t have freakish turnovers all year…but they probably will have the ability to punch other teams in the mouth early and hopefully more often. This team seems to play to the level of their opponent—we’ll see how they fare when a more formidable opponent emerges. Their schedule early did them no favors.
- Turnovers: enough said. All ROTQ readers know you can’t turnover the football anywhere and be successful…turning it over where UW has is completely unacceptable.
- Injuries: we haven’t seen the whole UW roster on the field at the same time. Injuries to key players, namely guys like Chris Borland and Mike Taylor haven’t helped.
Prognosis: I think Peter Konz was right earlier this week when he noted that this type of performance will certainly get their attention and the attention of the coaching staff. These foolish mistakes will be corrected, the waning attention span will be stop and we’ll see the type of team we expect this Saturday. I expect ASU to present some intriguing challenges, namely to the secondary…but again this is a PAC-10 team where the defenses are not particularly rugged. UW has always fared well against strong PAC-10 teams, yet alone one in a rebuilding mode. I expect them to really establish their identity in advance of their home tilt with mighty Austin Peay and the forthcoming road trip to MSU and then the big one…hosting OSU. You’ll read it here. This team will be undefeated going into Iowa.
A new feature at ROTQ: BeerPod. A close look at what is in the fridge and iPod of our editors and friends.
iPod: Assembly of Dust: Some Assembly Required. If this isn’t in your iPod…it probably should be. AOD is not your typical “Jam Band”, not in the mold of Phish but more akin to Widespread Panic. Jam Bands are known for long elaborate musical improvisation with sophisticated musical arrangements. AOD doesn’t often go for the long, but plenty of the latter. This Vermont based outfit (like Phish before them) has borrowed on this album from some of the music worlds most gifted artists for collaboration. Appearing on this album are Richie Havens (Woodstock), acoustic savants Tony Rice and Keller Williams, as well as Phish’s Mike Gordon. But the best collaborative moments are offered by Moe’s guitarist Al Scheiner and banjo virtuoso Bela Fleck. This album has a little bit of everything and will definitely enhance your library! Listen to the album free at this link!
Pairing beer with music is not easy and in many cases unnecessary, but we’ll give it a shot. The AOD album mentioned above is electic, diverse, and sophisticated. A beer that is new to the Wisconsin beer scene that is all the above is the latest work of genius from Dan Carey and the New Glarus crew. To the dismay of many earlier this year the standard “Hop Hearty IPA” began to disappear from store shelves. It was replaced by a marvelous new addition Moon Man No Coast Pale Ale. Not as hoppy as the former, but a smooth substitute. Hop Hearty has been downgraded to a a Beer we’ve known and loved (past tense) at the New Glarus site, intimating this might be permanent. The Hop Hearty was better, but if Moon Man isn’t in your fridge, it probably shoud be!
Our Brewer editor has been awol since, well…a long time. So we’ll add a few tidbits.
While it is unlikely to happen, should Mark Attanasio fire Doug Melvin, he won’t have to worry about writing a speech at the press conference. He can just borrow the one Tom Hicks, owner of the Texas Rangers used after he fired Melvin after seven years. I quote:
Doug Melvin built three division championship teams as general manager of the Texas Rangers, but he was unable to develop enough good young pitching for owner Tom Hicks. That cost Melvin his job when Hicks fired him Sunday after seven years.
One only need look at the recent draft selection of Eric Arnett (and Evan Frederickson and Seth Lintz, etc…) as cases in point.
On a side note: when you consider the qualities of effective leaders…does Ken Macha have any of them?