Postseason Grades for the Wisconsin Badgers
The confetti has been cleaned up and the post-game interviews are over. The lockers are cleared and the equipment returned.
This season for the University of Wisconsin football team is in the books, albeit a book with a puzzling ending.
Ill-timed timeouts and seemingly conspiratorial fumbles marred the last game for the Badgers, but no team should be judged on one game alone. By all accounts, this chapter in Badger history was incredibly successful even if its conclusion will continue to draw critics.
While the spring semester is yet to start on campus, postseason grades were handed out to the 2011 squad.
The offense was magnificent from the very first kickoff of the year.
In fact, the team's success could lead to its own demise, as offensive coordinator Paul Chryst and offensive line coach Bob Bostad were enticed away to Pitt in order to reinvent the Panthers' O.
It was hard for people to imagine a better offensive performance than the 2010 Badgers, but Wilson and company met those lofty benchmarks head on. The team accounted for 44.1 points per game and more than seven yards per play.
The team excelled in the red zone, converting close to 95 percent of its trips inside the 20 into points.
If evaluated on statistics alone, the Badger defense would get a solid "B." Opponents were held to 20 points per contest, but generated more than five yards of offense per play.
Based on game film, though, the team suffered from bad angles, missed tackles and blown assignments.
Chris Borland and Mike Taylor were machines because they had to be. The tackling tandem was forced to clean up messes a rather porous defensive line should have never let happen. Quarterbacks seemingly never felt enough pressure, and breakdowns in East Lansing and Columbus were a testament to that shortcoming.
The secondary was at times impressive, and other times inept. When it came time to stop the big play, the unit simply could not come through when it mattered.
Special Teams: C
The Badger faithful love to pick on special teams, but they should hold their criticism a little.
The punt and kickoff coverage was not textbook, but it was not the abomination everyone thinks it was. Opposing teams returned punts for an average of 7.6 yards, which is about half the 15 yards the Badgers were able to return the ball.
On kickoffs, Wisconsin fared only slightly worse than the other teams by returning kicks 21.8 yards to the other team's 22.8 yards.
Bret Bielema will hear the words "clock management" in every press conference, elevator ride, movie theater and vacation he takes from now until next fall.
After wasting timeouts, which led to the abrupt end of the Rose Bowl, Bielema deserves much of the grief he is no doubt getting.
With that said, he wasted timeouts in the Rose Bowl, which means he got his team to Pasadena, and that does not happen by accident.
The head coach aside, all the assistants performed fairly well given the level of talent on both sides of the ball, with an embarrassment of riches on one side and a serviceable squad on the other.