Wisconsin Vs. Illinois Wrap: Five Big Answers


Oct 6, 2012; Madison, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Joel Stave (2) is tackled by Illinois Fighting Illini linebacker Jonathan Brown (45) during the third quarter at Camp Randall Stadium. Wisconsin won 31-14. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE

Last week we asked five big questions about Illinois vs. Wisconsin. Now we give five big answers not necessarily related to the five big questions…

1. Yes, the Badgers can still dominate on offense. But only if…

…the defense they’re playing against is completely gassed from being on the field too long. That’s clearly what happened with Illinois. No offense for the Fighting Illini. So their D was on the field too much. Result: in the fourth quarter the Badgers looked like the old Badgers. The offensive line absolutely destroyed the exhausted and disheartened Illinois defense. Montee Ball rang up yardage at a frightening pace. The Badgers easily ran away in a game that for a long time looked like it would be another dogfight down to the end. The question is, how encouraged should be given the circumstances? Yes it was fun seeing the old Badger offense show up but there’s got to be a big asterisk on that. It was Illinois. Well what the heck right? You take your victories where you can get them. Montee Ball certainly will take the stats.

2. Yes, Matt Canada gets it. I think.

Two of the biggest plays of the game for Wisconsin were specifically designed to take advantage of the aggressive defense. One was the screen pass TD to James White and the other was the play action long TD to Jared Abbrederis. These were good adjustment calls by Matt Canada. Cause Illinois was bringing it hard defensively. Their game plan was to crash down and stop the run and in pass situations to blitz Joel Stave. That’s been the game plan for a lot of defenses this year. You can keep trying to run inside against that kind of stuff and get nowhere or you can call plays that exploit it. Canada nailed it twice. The screen was a beautiful call against the rush and the play action pass was a beautiful call against the safeties who were clearly cheating up. The Badgers should be doing more of that earlier in the game.

3. Yes, Bret Bielema is driving everyone nuts with this quarterback stuff.

Another week, another QB-related controversy. Joel Stave was yanked by Bret Bielema in favor of Curt Phillips in the middle of the game for no apparent reason. Phillips did absolutely nothing, and Stave was reinserted on third down. And promptly threw an interception. Twitter was rightfully upset at the seemingly silly move to pull Stave, then put him back in and expect him to convert a third-and-long after sitting out two plays. After the game Bielema explained the move and the explanation was pure Bret. He had a special zone read package put in for Phillips. Oh of course. Run that at some random spot in the middle of the game when you’re already struggling. And put your freshman QB in a bad spot. Great idea.

4. Yes, Travis Frederick was highly overrated.

This should be obvious by now. Frederick’s preseason All-America selection was purely a reputation thing. The program’s reputation, not his. He played a flat-out bad game this weekend against Illinois. Dumb penalties. One outside run play where he didn’t look like he knew who to block. It’s probably Bart Miller’s fault though, right? Actually it’s Mike Markuson’s fault. He messed all those guys up before he was fired. That jerk.

5. No, the Bucky push-up thing is not cute anymore.

It’s funny when you’re rolling up 83 on Indiana. But when you can’t put up more than 7 points in the first half against crappy Illinois? It’s just not cute anymore. So bag the bit. Please.

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