Due to my attendance at a wedding in Colorado, I was unable to see Wisconsin's first football game of the season live. Thanks to the miraculous nature of DVRs and the Big Ten Network however, I was able to watch the game on delay last night. Here are some random thoughts---
- I know that it's very early, but boy does John Moffit look like a dramatic improvement at center. That one running play where he pulled hard to the left, and Zach Brown followed him, eventually hurdling over him for a gain of 9, was impressive stuff and pretty typical of his performance. Plus, he can snap the ball properly in the shotgun. (I still cannot believe that Coleman was unable to perform a shotgun snap. Ridiculous.)
- Clay looks like the real deal. Big, good vision, fast, strong. And he should only get better. Brown looks a bit quicker than last season and has excellent vision. I'd like to see him shake off a few more ankle tackles though.
- So everyone's been complaining about Gilreath's drop in the end zone. And verily, that was a bad blunder. A good route, a solid throw, a nice touch play for a score. And then he craps the bed by juggling the ball. Ugh. Shape up, Dave. You know as well as the rest of us that you have yet to score a collegiate touchdown. End that drought already.
- Newkirk's one sack was all Jason Chapman-- Chappie made his trademark quick first step, beating the guard trying to block him, and nearly grabbing the QB. Regardless he flushed him forward, right into the arms of Newkirk. A good sign for Chapman's health.
- Randy called me on Saturday, assuming I had watched the game and demanded to know how Wisconsin had given up 17 points. Of course, I hadn't seen the game then. But after watching the entire game, I think it should have been 7. One touchdown was on a legit drive by Akron. Then a field goal after that horrible Evridge pass and long return, which he has admitted he should have thrown out of the end zone. (Or ran for it.) Then the final touchdown against the back-ups, which came with less than a minute left, on a screen where a Badger second-stringer had the ball carrier perfectly set up for a vicious hit, but totally whiffed. The Akron player jogged into the end zone from 15 yards out. I think the UW defender makes that tackle, the game ends without a second Akron touch.
- Another common source of complaint is Evridge's interception. Yes, that was a poor throw and decision, especially in the red zone. But what confused me was the previous play, where Evridge scrambled to the one. On that play, he looks around, rolls slightly left, and then runs straight ahead (just left of the left hash), getting sandwiched between two defenders after gaining about 8 yards. But what was bizarre was that had he kept going left he could have scored easily. Kyle Jefferson had outside position on his defender, the only guy near that area, and even with some half-hearted blocking, Evridge could have gone right to the pylon and scored easily. That's the kind of running read Tyler Donovan would have made instinctively. Plus, on that run Evridge never really seemed to put his foot on the throttle. Had he floored it, I think he could have scored, even taking that contested route to the end zone. Now I know it's been more than two years since he last played a college snap. He's going to be rusty. But that was a clear mental error that ended up costing the team a touchdown. I hope as the season progresses, we see him shaking off the rust, and playing more naturally.