Monday, September 20, 2010

Why Wisconsin Probably Isn’t Overrated Despite Looking Bad On Saturday

I’ve seen this idea picking up steam after the semi-debacle on Saturday which the Badgers frankly had no business winning. I’ve also seen some revisionist history going around about the San Jose State game which was completely dominated by the Badgers, but ended up looking close-ish on the scoreboard. Let’s keep a few things in mind:

1. Nick Toon did not play on Saturday, nor did he play last week against SJSU.

2. Nick Toon is the best WR on the team.

3. David Gilreath did not play at all on Saturday, and missed most of last week after stupidly not calling for a fair catch.

4. David Gilreath, aside from being their 2nd best WR, is also an excellent special teams player.

5. Montee Ball isn’t very good, which the coaching staff finally seems to have figured out.

6. John Clay had off-season ankle surgery, and part of the game plan has been to use him sparingly. Montee Ball not being very good has compounded this problem.

7. J.J. Watt spent most of the game injured.

Wisconsin has been operating with a skeleton crew on offense all season, and some struggles were to be expected. The popular idea is that the ASU offense was far better than the Wisconsin offense on Saturday, but it’s actually pretty hard to make that case.

Steven Threet – 63%, 6.4 yards per pass, 0 TD, 0 INT

Scott Tolzien – 76%, 9.8 yards per pass, 1 TD, 0 INT

ASU RBs – 7.5 YPC

Wisconsin RBs Not Named Montee Ball – 5.8 YPC

There is no way to sugarcoat allowing 7.5 yards per carry, but the Badgers were almost as good when Montee wasn’t in the game, and the defense was fighting injuries all day. That said, Steven Threet wasn’t able to capitalize on his fantastic running attack with effective passing (though the refs admittedly helped out a little) while Tolzien and Kendricks used play-action with great effectiveness.

The previous Saturday, the San Jose State game was only close at all because James White fumbled the ball through the end zone when going in for a score. Statistically Wisconsin dominated that game, especially running, where they outgained SJSU 212 to 55 while averaging almost an extra 2 yards per carry. Tolzien again outplayed his competition outgaining the SJSU QBs 8.7 to 8.4, but the run game made a comeback impossible.

Rather than being overrated, it would be more accurate to say that the Badgers have weathered injuries early in the season. They should get Toon and Gilreath back for the start of the Big Ten schedule, which should open up the offense more. James White, I suspect, will move into the Terrell Fletcher role opposite John Clay’s Brent Moss. Tolzien will continue to be his extremely efficient self, and Lance Kendricks will continue to be one of the nation’s best TEs.

There are questions on defense, but when healthy they have looked pretty good. Rather than relying on what are essentially 3 preseason games to judge them, I’d rather take the long view of a team that was very good last season potentially becoming great with another year of experience. No one will know for sure until the Big Ten season actually gets underway, but calling them overrated at this point is premature.

10 comments:

Admiral Ackbar, S.J. said...

Hell, if every team took away the mistakes they made in a game, they'd dominate.

'If White hadn't fumbled', if 'our best WR's weren't hurt'. Every team has those excuses to fall back on, But if you expect people respect the team, you need to beat inferior opponents by more that one point. Especially at home.

PaulNoonan said...

That is simply not true. Most teams are not missing their 2 best WRs, and not all mistakes are created equal. The fumble in question was a careless play from a freshman which probably will not happen again in his career, and because of where it took place it had a disproportionate impact on the game.

All you have so far on Wisconsin is bad data unless the players who are currently hurt do not come back.

It's easy to look at the ASu game and see them as weak. I see a team that should have been one dimensional, but was still able to pass with relative ease, and had no trouble running the ball.

Maybe their special teams is really terrible, but this is the only game so far that has looked suspect in that regard. Special teams tends to be flukier too.

And despite all this, they've still managed to stay undefeated.

Paul said...

Just a bit OT, but what is the logic for the penalty in fumbling a ball out of the end zone (ala White)? If a ball is fumbled out of bounds (forward), it goes back to spot of fumble. But go around the pylon, and it's a turnover. It carries (arguably) the highest penalty in FB.

tracker said...

Hmm. Could it be that it's regarded as an "unpossessed" or free ball, such as after a kickoff (which, similarly, if kicked through the end zone is a touchback for the receiving team)?

Fredin said...

uh, hate to break it to you, but WI is very overrated. UNLV? San Jose State? And then eke out a win over ASU? And lets not forget this weeks upcoming thriller, Austin Peay...

I know its the way things work in college ball, pay chump teams to play you and be punchings bags, but still, its a joke. Lets see how they do agaisnt Ohio State, or Michigan State, or Michigan.

PaulNoonan said...

I don't think anything your comment supports the idea that they are overrated. You have listed their schedule and not mentioned anything about injuries. So what?

Fredin said...

Well counselor, looks like your injury defense didn't quite hold up.

Toon, Gilreath, and Clay all were in the lineup, and WI lost anyway. Where are we going to go now? Officiating? The weather?

With all due respect, think my schedule comments support anything now? Yea, I do to. Maybe playing that WI state fair favorite, the cream puff, doesn't really do much for your team.

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Anonymous said...

Montee Ball not that good........Ha...I bet all the other Big Ten Teams wish their RB's were not that good either.

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