If I had a dictionary I would give the definition of “consistency” as the opening sentence of this post. But I don’t need a dictionary to know what consistency is. I know it when I see it. I know when a team is doing things well, over and over again, regardless of the circumstances. That’s consistency. And so far this year, the Badgers haven’t had it.
The Badgers have played well in spurts. The first half against Nebraska, they used shifts and playaction to get Nebraska off-balance, and they attacked and got on top. But then when they needed to dial back the passing game and run the ball down the Huskers’ throats, they couldn’t do it. Nebraska stymied them and took the game over. That was the essence of an inconsistent performance.
Same against Illinois. Where was the offense in the first half? In the second half, the Badgers wore down Illinois and took over the game. For the first time all year, they looked like a physically dominating team. They looked like the team we expected them to be. But one half of real Badger football isn’t enough. They need to repeat those results. They need to do it consistently play after play, series after series.
How can they make this happen? Here’s one thing that might help: if the coach would stop getting cute with his quarterbacks. Joel Stave has shown he can get it done. But what does Bret Bielema do? He brings in Curt Phillips for a series against Illinois, to shake things up. Stave ends up re-entering the game after two bad plays, and throws an interception on third down. What was accomplished?
The big issue though hasn’t been the QB position or Bielema’s handling of the QB position. It’s been the offensive line. When will we see the consistency from them? When will the veterans like Travis Frederick play with the kind of discipline you expect from experienced players? They showed some of that in the second half against Illinois, but again, that was Illinois. That defense was gassed. And Matt Canada did some nice things to soften the defense up. He adjusted to the defensive scheme, and the offense got on-track.
That was one game though. Can the Badgers come out against Purdue and show that kind of physical presence again? I think it’s unlikely. Purdue may be no great shakes as a football team, but frankly neither are the Badgers. If you can’t dominate Northern Iowa out of the gate, you probably can’t dominate Purdue either.
I’m not expecting dominance, but I am hoping for a little more consistency. A nice run-pass balance. Taking some deep shots with Jared Abbrederis. Mixing in screens and outside runs. Doing the things that have been successful. Executing those plays well. Showing discipline. In other words, starting out strong and sticking with it and playing a complete game from start to finish. The Badgers don’t need anymore schizophrenic performances like they had the last two weeks. They have to put together four good quarters. They have to do the right things, over and over, consistently from beginning to end.
Once they establish that, I believe this young team can start to get back some of the identity they’ve lost. The coaches have to help them out. Captain Hook Bielema has to stop tinkering and just let them play. The older guys have to hold up their end. Receivers have to hold onto balls. No more dumb penalties. Consistency, guys. You shouldn’t have to look it up either.
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