After watching the Badgers blowout victory over Indiana 62-14 I could not help but observe a false sense of confidence amidst a record setting day for the Wisconsin rushing game. Now I’m glad that we did run the ball as well as we did and did not play down to our opponent as the Packers seem to do from time to time, but it seems the game came with some undesired effects. There was a sense of false confidence in the overall coaching and play calling that will burn us in the remaining games this season.
During the second quarter with Wisconsin winning 17-0, Indiana was able to slow down the Wisconsin attack and force a couple of punts while scoring a touchdown themselves. With Wisconsin on the ropes with a 3rd and 16 after a couple of bad play calls, we are just trying to run the ball to prevent any bad plays in the long yardage situation, but James White is able to break a couple of tackles, make a couple of good moves and score a 69 yard Touchdown.
We had no right in the situation to be getting first down much less the touchdown given the down and yardage, but Matt Canada looks like a genius since the play worked so well. For the previous 3 drives, Indiana had been crashing the line with blitzes to stop the running attack which resulted in 3 punts and was on pace for 4 punts in a row. I noticed this occurring on the second drive that resulted in a punt.
Time and time again this season this situation occurred and all Canada needed to do was call the play action fake on 1st or 2nd down to the “hopefully” wide open receiver 10-12 yards down the field, but continues to run into the brick wall. This would allow the running game to continue without eight men in the box. Most of the time we unable to break this eight men in the box defense resulting in the offense struggling the rest of the game since we wait until 3rd and long when it is a obvious passing situation. This is how we operated under Paul Chryst with great success, but under Bret, the motto is “If it aint broke, then break it”.
On Saturday, we saw the except to the rule, White was able to score, Wisconsin was able to run the ball after that on the deflated Indiana team and win the game. If we would have punted the ball, who knows what could have happened.
Indiana is a program still trying to pull itself off the bottom of the Big Ten. Still trying to figure out how to win the big game. If this kind of victory would have occurred against Nebraska or Michigan State, I would have said the run game is here to stay, but the run game has only been as good (or should I say as bad) as our opponent.
This running attack will not translate to success in future games. Just like the two previous games to the Michigan State game, smart coaches will stop the run first which will leave Wisconsin unproductive on offense. Bielema and Canada will go into the Ohio State game thinking they will be able to win the game by pounding the ball on the ground, but all they will get is a brick wall and have no idea on how to break the eight man in the box defense.
Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy that game today, I did enjoy watching Ball and White run all over the Indiana defense, and I’m happy that we will be playing in the Big Ten Championship game. My concern is how we take what we learned from this game along with what is on the tapes for Ohio State and formula a game plan. Under Alvarez, I knew a 62-14 win the previous week was not going to mess up the game planning the following week.
Badgers fans, enjoy the win this week, but don’t expect Urban Meyer to allow the Badgers to just run all over the defense without making some kind of adjustment.