Wisconsin vs. Ohio State: 5 Badgers Who Need to Get Back on Track
Last weekend went down as one of the most disappointing losses in the Wisconsin Badgers history. The Badgers are not a perennial title contender, but this team was one of those rare teams that people thought could challenge for a BCS title.
The talent and coaching are there. Unfortunately for Wisconsin, talent does not make up for mistakes and there were a lot of them in Wisconsin's loss to Michigan State.
Wisconsin will look to bounce back this weekend on the road against an upset-minded Ohio State Buckeyes team that saw their national title dreams dashed last year against Wisconsin.
Here are five Badgers personnel that must bounce back against Ohio State...
Blessed with immense size, Ricky Wagner is a talented tackle that moved from the side right side of the line to left following the departure of Gabe Carimi.
Throughout 2011, Wagner had been playing lights out until he hit a mental roadblock against Michigan State.
Wagner committed two false starts and a holding penalty. His holding penalty happened on Wisconsin's final drive and set the Badgers back in Michigan State territory.
Though Russell Wilson completed a 42-yard pass to Nick Toon the very next play, these type of penalties by the offensive linemen in key situations cannot be repeated against Ohio State.
Bret Bielema faced a whirlwind of criticism following the loss to Michigan State. It wasn't about the play-calling but more about his use of two timeouts when Michigan State had possession with under one minute to play.
In his weekly press conference in Madison, Bielema told reporters that he saw a defense that forced Michigan State to punt three times in a row and felt they could get the ball back to his offense with time remaining.
Unfortunately for Bielema, his use of the timeouts played directly into the hands of the Spartans.
Ohio State and their fan base has not forgotten about last year, as the Badgers beat both their football and basketball teams. They will be looking for revenge and this will not be a Badger blowout in Columbus.
It's time for Bielema to use those timeouts in a more rational manner, especially in one of the toughest venues in the country.
Wisconsin has not needed to use their special teams at a high rate in 2011. This can be attributed to the competition, but one must assume that it was bound to change as the Badgers got deeper into the Big Ten schedule.
Their lack of playing time showed in the field goal and punting game as Michigan State blocked a field goal and blocked a punt that was recovered in the end zone for a Spartans touchdown.
Special teams can make or break a game, and it broke Wisconsin last week.
The same mistakes cannot be made this week, and you better believe that Bielema and his staff are working to correct the miscommunication in protection.
Montee Ball and James White split carries, though Ball clearly gets more touches. Regardless, the coaching staff sees both of these players as starting running backs and the country knows it as well. In 2010, White won Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
When Ball went down with an injury for a brief period of time against Michigan State, it vaulted James White into a heavy workload.
It didn't go well for White, as he was bottled up and the Wisconsin offense struggled to move the ball for almost two quarters without that balanced attack.
White works well splitting carries with Ball, but he will need to be able to be that feature back if an injury keeps Ball out for an extended period of time.
Kirk Cousins picked apart the Wisconsin defense last Saturday night. You can't expect anything less from the Big Ten's most seasoned quarterback, but you can certainly expect more from the Wisconsin defense.
The tackling was nothing short of disappointing.
On B.J. Cunningham's 35-yard touchdown reception, he slipped off a couple arm tackles in the middle of the field and made his way to the sidelines where outside containment was all but gone.
The Buckeye offense is not as productive as Michigan State's, but Wisconsin cannot afford to miss the tackles they did on Saturday night and expect to leave Columbus with a win.