Wisconsin Football: Grading All 22 Starters from the Oregon State Game
To the Wisconsin faithful, everything about this game was a failure. Offensive coordinator Matt Canada abandoned the team's smash-mouth identity, the "dominant" offensive line got throttled by a mediocre PAC-12 team and the officials blew the most important call of the game.
It was a lackluster effort from Badgers players and coaches. In light of the Corvallis massacre, here are grades for all 22 Badgers starters.
Maybe the Terrapins were not crazy when they benched O'Brien last year. He looked awful against Oregon State on Saturday. He seemed to relish staying in the pocket too long and getting sacked. He also put on a clinic of over/underthrowing receivers.
Almost all of O'Brien's throws listlessly floated through the air. The only reason he does not get a worse grade is the fact that his O-line played terribly and he was missing his top receiver for most of the game.
Montee Ball 2012 is clearly not the awesomeness that was Montee Ball 2011. Ball failed to break 100 yards or find the end zone in the Badgers' embarrassing loss.
Significantly more troubling is that Ball could not convert when he was handed the rock on 3rd-and-short. After two lackluster performances Ball has probably vacated his position as best running back in the country.
Matt Canada decided to take the bruising, bash 'em up, Wisconsin offense and turn it into a spread attack. In the pantheon of bad ideas this is somewhere between New Coke and the fourth Indiana Jones movie.
It also means that the fullback position was just not that important to the Badgers on Saturday. Maybe Canada should realize that any rush-heavy offense that neutralizes a fullback is a terrible idea. This week though, it is really just not fair to grade this position.
Two N/A grades in a row seem like a cop out, however Abbrederis left the game early due to an injury. It is really not fair to judge Wisconsin's best receiver when he was not able to play the whole game.
Here's wishing Abbrederis' injury is not serious. Badgers fans will forever be left to wonder, would the anemic offense have been better if No. 4 had been available?
A No. 2 receiver is supposed to step up when the No. 1 receiver goes down. Fredrick either did not get this memo, or believes stepping up and reeling in one catch for eleven yards is the same thing.
It was overall a terrible offensive day for Wisconsin. Fredrick's failure to to play above a junior varsity level was not the only reason that Wisconsin lost. Rather Fredrick was merely one in the cornucopia of failures that led to the stunning Badgers loss.
Similar to Fredrick, Pedersen decided to mail in a lackluster performance after the team's No. 1 receiver went down. Four catches for a measly 36 yards was inexcusably meek production for one of the better pass-catching TE's in college football.
Pedersen was minimally redeemed when he caught the only Badgers touchdown of the game. However, to most fans, it was a classic case of too little too late.
Ricky Wagner, Rob Havenstein, Ryan Groy, Zac Matthias, Travis Frederick
Awful, truly just awful. Every single Wisconsin lineman deserves an F. The linemen do not have their own slides for two reasons. First, after the walloping Oregon State gave what was supposed to be one of the best O-lines in the country, they do not deserve it.
Second, they would be five slides that all read: It was humiliating to see a Wisconsin lineman get so badly beaten at the point of attack again and again.
The Wisconsin offense was mind-numbingly bad but the defense was pretty respectable. Gilbert was his usual active self. He put some pressure on Oregon State, and even tipped a ball or two.
Muldoon contributed to a very solid defensive effort in a hostile stadium. He did not do anything exceptional, but his presence was continuously felt. He helped collapse the pocket a couple of times and made sure the Oregon State offense never got too comfortable.
Oregon State QB Sean Mannion was rudely introduced to Mr. Allen early in the first quarter. Allen knocked Mannion on his backside on a QB hurry. Allen's pressure on Mannion helped cover up the Badgers' glaringly weak secondary.
Similar to linemate Kelly, Hemer did not do anything highlight-reel worthy. Hemer however did play very well and consistently.
Taylor was his usual self. The LB's stout play against the run was a huge reason why the Beavers did not get over 100-yards rushing.
Armstrong is turning into a nice complement to dominant Badgers linebackers Mike Taylor and Chris Borland. Armstrong is a fundamentally sound player, rarely out of position and always executes his tackles with perfect form.
It is hard to find anything "bad" that Borland did against the Beavers. Borland however is supposed to be one of Wisconsin's most dominant players, and his silence against Oregon State was deafening. For a player of Borland's talent to not step up is very disheartening to the Badger faithful.
With the frequency that the Wisconsin secondary has been beaten recently, it is tempting to give Cromartie an A for simply not being terrible. Cromartie played a pretty good game; he even broke up a Beaver fourth-down conversation attempt. Hopefully the swagger Cromartie showed on Saturday will be present next week as well.
Smith was not terrible, but he was not great either. No one expects the Wisconsin DB's to be dominant, but the Badgers' defensive unit can be respectable if Smith can play consistently at the level he did on Saturday.
Johnson played really well when he was lined up near the line of scrimmage. Unfortunately Johnson once again got beat over the top a couple of times. How frequently the Wisconsin secondary gets beaten is now bordering on the absurd.
It is tempting to give Southward an A as this is the first Badgers loss in years that is not his fault. Southward played well, a rarity during his time with the Badgers. Maybe this heartbreaking loss will mark a new stage in Southward's career, one in which he can actually cover.