Wisconsin Badgers Football: 10 Things We Learned In The Badger's Home Opener
So, don't mention South Dakota in the State of Minnesota, and the ACC is now officially the Atlantic Toast Conference, but other than that, things were pretty routine in the world of college football yesterday. Big bouts between highly touted teams resulted in the expected ends, and in Madison, Wisconsin, the Badgers eked out a victory against a team they should have beat by thirty...yep, pretty routine.
The Badgers entered yesterday's game against the San Jose State Spartans as 38 point favorites, and left it with a bruised ego, and plenty to work on in practice this week.
Let's run down points of interest from this week's contest...
10. Without Chris Borland, The Linebackers Are Still Solid
Sophomore linebacker Chris Borland sat out yesterday's game after aggravating a shoulder injury in last week's contest with UNLV.
Without Borland, the linebackers were solid in coverage, posting an interception, and seemed to read plays well.
Not that the Badgers don't want last year's Offensive Freshman of the Year to come back, but they are deep at LB. Borland is expected to play next Saturday against Arizona State.
9. Scott Tolzien Is Still Not Ready
Not to beat a dead horse, but if the Badgers are going to live up to the lofty expectations being held by themselves and those around them, quarterback Scott Tolzien is going to have to step up.
After yesterday's game, Tolzien is still not ready for top-flight competition.
He either needs a kick in the pants, or he needs to learn to handle pressure, because with his routinely thrown completions to the opposition, the Badgers have a severe handicap in their quest for a conference title...
Tolzien's stats to date: 30-42 71.4 percent completion 2 INT 1TD
8. The Pass Defense Is Still Suspect
22/30 completed against
San Jose State
7. John Clay Needs To Get in Shape, Fast
Running back John Clay has been very good in his first two games, scoring four touchdowns and gaining 260 yards on 40 carries while averaging 6.5 yards per carry. Great numbers, especially when splitting carries four ways.
However, the Badgers are clearly not the same team when Clay's counterparts are in the backfield and Clay says he is only 80 percent healthy, according to the announcers at Saturday's game.
Regardless, he needs to get in shape before the conference season begins, so his carries are not limited.
6. David Gilreath Is Tough
Badger's receiver David Gilreath suffered a brutal shot to the head and was briefly knocked out during an ill-advised punt return attempt Saturday.
This shot was brutal.
However, it was reported earlier today by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, that Gilreath's tests came back negative, and he is in good condition. Not sure if he will be cleared to play this week.
5. Toon Who?
The Badgers were without star wide receiver Nick Toon, but Tolzien found plenty of places to throw the ball.
Tight end Lance Kendricks led the pass-catchers with 60 yards on three receptions to go with a touchdown, while freshman Jared Abbrederis was Tolzien's favorite target, catching five balls for 58 yards.
Seven different Badgers caught passes Saturday...
Toon is expected to be cleared to play next week.
4. J.J. Watt Is a Monster
Watt opened the game with a tackle for loss on a run play, blocked a field goal, and generally wreaked havoc in the Spartan backfield.
If what can keep up that level of play throughout the whole season, he will be in the hunt for defensive player of the year...
3. The Arizona State Sun Devils Are in For a Rude Awakening
The SunDevils and Michigan transfer quarterback Steven Threet struggled mightily with FCS foe Northern Arizona, until the beginning of the fourth quarter...
The Sun Devils allowed Northern Arizona to retain possession of the football for more than thirty minutes, and if Wisconsin has possession for that long, it won't be pretty.
2. The Badger Run Defense May Be Legit
Even without star linebackers Mike Taylor and Chris Borland, the Badgers managed to limit the damage done on the ground for the second week in a row.
The Badgers allowed just 55 yards rushing on 20 attempts for a 2.8 average against San Jose State...
1. Ohio State And Iowa Are Big Roadblocks To The Big Ten Championship
While the Badgers were handling the Spartans, Ohio State was making a statement in the 'Shoe, and Iowa was lambasting in-state rival Iowa State.
OSU beat Miami by the tune of 36-24 while Iowa gave an old fashioned caning to the Cyclones, crushing them 35-7.
Should the Badgers plan on making any kind of noise on the national scene, they will have to find a way to get their level of play on the same plateau as these two teams.
Beating San Jose State 27-14 is not the way to do it...