Wisconsin Football: Report Card Grades for the Badgers' Second Game

Sean LansingContributor ISeptember 12, 2011

Wisconsin Football: Report Card Grades for the Badgers' Second Game

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    On Saturday, the eighth ranked Wisconsin Badgers improved to 2-0 by defeating the PAC 12's Oregon State Beavers 35-0. 

    Wisconsin was dominant, blanking  the Beavers and holding Oregon State to just 23 yards on 24 carries, but they weren't perfect. 

    The Badgers struggled to get their power-running game going against an inferior Oregon State D-Line, and the defense gave up 260 yards through the air. 

    Still, it's hard to argue with a shutout.

    To see how the Badgers fared overall, click through the slides that follow. 

Quarterbacks: A+

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    Russell Wilson was the model of efficiency Saturday afternoon, completing 17 of 21 passes for 189 yards and three scores.

    Oregon State geared up to stop the run all day long, forcing Wilson to be the difference.

    The senior quarterback delivered with a near-flawless performance, and the Badgers are 2-0 because of it. 

Running Backs: C+

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    It’s hard to be too critical when you have a 100-yard rusher and average almost five yards per-carry, but the Badgers were pretty regular on the ground Saturday afternoon.

    After gashing UNLV for 241 yards and over six yards per-carry a week ago, Wisconsin struggled to run with consistency against the Beavers.

    Montee Ball (18 carries, 118 yards and two TD’s) and James White (17 carries for 53 yards) were solid, but they weren’t spectacular.

Wide Receivers: A+

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    On a day when the passing game carried the Badgers, wide receiver Nick Toon (seven catches for 69 yards and a score) and tight end Jacob Pedersen (six receptions for 80 yards and two TD’s) were spectacular.

    The two consistently found a way to get open for Wilson, and they both made a handful of highlight-reel catches.

    If Bret Bielema can get his running and passing game in sync week in and week out, this offense is going to be scary good. 

Offensive Line: B-

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    First, the good: The boys up-front kept Russell Wilson upright for most of the day (just one sack), allowing him to carve up the Oregon State defense for three scores.

    However, the O-line struggled to get off the ball and create holes for Wisconsin’s power-rushing attack.

    Wisconsin should have dominated the Beavers up front, and they are going to need to play up to their potential if the Badgers are going to get back to the BCS. 

Defensive Line: A+

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    On the other side of the ball, Wisconsin’s line was excellent.

    The Badgers gave up just 23 yards rushing by limiting the Beavers to a dismal yard per-carry average, and the pressure generated up front resulted in three sacks.

    After struggling to stop the run or get any pressure on UNLV quarterback Caleb Herring in week one, the Badgers front four needed a bounce back game.

    They got one. 

Linebackers: A

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    The linebackers were a big part of the Beavers’ ground woes, with Chris Borland and Mike Taylor leading the Badgers with nine tackles a piece.

    Like the defensive line, Wisconsin’s linebacking corps struggled often against UNLV and their multiple offensive sets.

    And, just like the defensive line, Borland, Taylor and company bounced back in a big way week two. 

Secondary: B+

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    The Badgers’ defensive backs did give up 260 yards passing on Saturday, but their bend/don’t break philosophy kept Oregon State off of the scoreboard.

    Cornerback Devin Smith was all over the place before suffering a leg injury, and backup Marcus Cromartie filled in nicely when called upon, registering seven tackles.

    If Smith—who was on crutches after the game—is going to miss an extended period of time, the Badgers are going to need Cromartie to continue his solid play. 

Special Teams: A+

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    Punter Brad Nortman was excellent, averaging almost 46 yards per-punt, and kicker Kyle French filled in nicely for injured starter Phillip Welch by going five for five on extra point attempts.

    Ho-hum, the beat goes on for the Badgers’ very solid special teams unit. 

Coaching: A+

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    Bret Bilema’s staff had the Badgers locked in to the point where they shutout the usually competitive Oregon State Beavers.

    All eyes were on the defense after a spotty performance last week, and they delivered. For that, first-year defensive coordinator Chris Ash deserves credit.

    The Badgers weren’t perfect—they struggled to run the ball and gave up a decent chunk of yards through the air—but only a well-coached team is capable of blanking their opponent. 

Intangibles: A

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    Despite a few minor hiccups during the first two weeks of the 2011 season, the Badgers are firing on all cylinders.

    If Wisconsin can combine their week one offense with their week two defense, Bret Bielema’s squad should be in for a very special season.

    With Northern Illinois next up on the schedule and FCS South Dakota after that, Camp Randall should be rocking for their 4-0 Badgers on October 1 when Nebraska comes to town.