Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Remaining Questions

Now that we've all had time to settle down after the football Badger's first game, it's time to discuss some remaining issues.

First, although the Badgers threw all over the Cougs, ("I can't control my heart rate Daddy, I gotta cougar on me!") what are the season-long prospects for Donovan?
I think he passed quite well in some short bursts, but generally his arm strength and accuracy left something to be desired. I'd say he had maybe three ideal passes-- the touchdown bomb to Swan, the first touchdown pass to Swan in the corner, and the scramble first down pass to Xavier Harris. On a bunch of other passes, longer gains were there to be had if he had thrown the ball more quickly or accurately. In fact, it looked like all the incompletions were traceable to him-- because the Badgers had guys open all day, and he was hardly under pressure. Honestly, passing the ball is not going to get any easier this year, and a lot of underthrown balls that were recovered for catches by aware receivers could be interceptions against better teams. Also, maybe Wazzu's linebackers are fast or something, but I expected him be a little more effective on the run. Then Evridge comes on toward the end, and the one throw they let him take (a 20 yard pass to the third tight end, Graham) is a bullet. Hmmm... I think my opinion on Donovan is a push-- we'll see if he gets any more accurate in the remaining pre-Big Ten games. He at least didn't buy into the hype of his "awesome" game, telling Chryst when they pulled him "
We left some things out there today" and telling the media "there are still things we can work on." Yes, that's certainly the case.

Second, are the Badger's BCS hopes screwed because of lack of depth on the defensive line? UW had serious trouble stopping the run on Saturday, as the Cougs managed just about five yards a carry. The D stiffened as the game went on, but that development was disconcerting. Then you look at the D-line, and notice that the Badgers basically have a rotation of only three defensive tackles, Nick Hayden, Mike Newkirk, and Jason Chapman, and a rotation of four defensive ends, Shaungisillas, Kurt Ware, redshirt frosh Kirk DeCremer, and the enigmatic Brandon Kelly-- not that great depth to begin with. But since Ware is still gimpy after tearing cartilage in his knee, Newkirk was playing end for a lot of the game. So the lack of depth at end exacerbated the lack of depth at tackle. Now maybe the Badgers linemen getting gassed wasn't the reason Wazzu ran on them. Maybe it was inexperience, or poor positioning, or being rusty after not tackling as much in practice. But the depth problems couldn't have helped. I'm concerned that against real running teams, Wisconsin will get worn out and run over. Here's hoping some of the back-ups, like Richard Garner and Jeff Stehle, develop during the season.

Third, what's going on with the Badgers' running game? They certainly don't seem to be able to consistently move the ball on decent defensive fronts. They couldn't do it against Arkansas, Michigan, and now, couldn't really do it against Wazzu. Maybe the alleged maturity of the returning linemen was overstated. What are the Badgers' chances of beating legit teams if they can't really run the ball? Or are we overreacting? Did the papa of Papa Sal have it right that guys were just missing the holes? Will a healthy Chris Pressley make running against good opponents possible?

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