Wisconsin Football Report Card: Grading The Win Over San Jose State
Despite being in complete control throughout pretty much the entire game, there is a definite underwhelming feeling concerning Wisconsin's play in their 27-14 win over San Jose State.
Whether it was scoring only 27 points against one of the worst FBS teams in the nation or allowing over 300 yards of total offense, the Badgers looked like anything but a Big Ten title contender on Saturday afternoon.
Maybe it was the dreary weather to begin the day, but Wisconsin just didn't seem to have the fire you would expect for their home opener.
But, it is a win, albeit ugly.
However, if the Badgers play like this come the Big Ten season, their run at the conference title will be over before they know it.
Despite putting up over 400 yards of total offense, including 212 on the ground, the Badgers managed only 27 points on Saturday. For a team that averaged over 30 points last year, that's disappointing in itself.
The fact that it happened against San Jose State almost puts it on the level of embarrassment.
And, once again, the Badgers committed two turnovers. Sloppy is really the only way to describe Wisconsin's offense at this point.
Now, there were still some bright spots for Wisconsin on Saturday.
Despite the interception, quarterback Scott Tolzien had another efficient day, throwing for 191 yards and a touchdown on 15-22 passing.
Running back John Clay had another big game, rushing for 137 yards on 23 carries and scoring another two touchdowns.
However, maybe the most impressive offensive player on the field Saturday was redshirt freshman wide receiver Jared Abbrederis. Seeing extended playing time because of the absence of starting wideout Nick Toon, Abbrederis hauled in five catches for 58 yards and seemed very comfortable in Wisconsin's system.
Still, a lot of kinks need to be worked out if Wisconsin is going to be the offensive juggernaut everyone expected them to be.
Until the end of the third quarter, Wisconsin's defense held the San Jose State offense in check. However, a few late-game scores made the score much closer and is another indicator that Wisconsin's defense, like their offense, is going to have to clean up a bit if they hope to challenge for the Big Ten.
Playing without starting linebacker Chris Borland, the Badger 'D' was basically immovable against the run. They only allowed 55 yards on 20 carries and never allowed the Spartan rushing attack to get into a rhythm.
However, they didn't have to. Why?
Because the Badgers couldn't stop the pass.
Going into 2010, that was a major concern for many Wisconsin fans. Those fears may have been realized in Saturday's game.
Both touchdowns came in the form of passes and as a whole, the Badgers allowed 252 passing yards.
San Jose State quarterback Jordan La Secla, who struggled mightily against Alabama, was 20-26 with two touchdowns and Chandler Jones caught 8 passes for 113 yards.
That's not going to fly against Big Ten teams.
For the second consecutive game, Wisconsin's special teams play was solid, if unspectacular.
Kicker Phillip Welch, after struggling a bit last year, was 2-2 and seems to be in a groove in 2010. Punter Brad Nortman also had a good outing, averaging 44.7 yards a punt on three attempts.
But, the return game hasn't had too much success this year. On three kick returns, James White and David Gilreath averaged only 11.7 yards a return and Gilreath had only 5 yards on 2 punt returns.
However, maybe the best news of the day came from the special teams department. After a scary collision ended with Gilreath leaving the field in an ambulance, many feared the worst for Wisconsin's shifty punt returner. Luckily, it appears as though all Gilreath has is a concussion, not the neck injury many feared.
Once again, Wisconsin's coaches called a solid, if conservative gameplan.
We saw a heavy dose of John Clay and company, while Tolzien was given a few opportunities to pass the ball.
Although running the ball is undoubtedly Wisconsin's strength, it may be beneficial for Tolzien to throw the ball a little more early in the season so he can be prepared to shoulder the burden if and when Wisconsin's run game struggles at some point during the Big Ten season.
That said, Bret Bielema has done what he's needed to do this year.
Overall Grade: C+
After a relatively impressive performance against UNLV last weekend, many expected Wisconsin to absolutely dominate San Jose State on Saturday.
Not the case.
The offense was sloppy. The defense missed tackles and had troubles stopping the pass. Special teams and coaching, though they didn't really make any mistakes, didn't contribute a whole lot to the win.
The Badgers are now 2-0, but for them to earn a bid to the Rose Bowl, these kind of performances can't continue.
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