Saturday, September 06, 2008

Fitty-One Straight, Homie

Right. So if you're reading this, you may have been with me in the first quarter of Wisconsin's 51-14 victory of the Marshall Thundering Herd. That is, cursing at the television, cursing at the team, cursing at the world. Thinking, "Wisconsin is just a bad team. They can't really run the ball. Their receivers are all neophytes. Their defenders are modestly talented nincompoops. Hello, 6 and 6!"
But then, the worm turned. Wisconsin started playing with some gnards. Allan Evridge finally showed why we were so psyched when he transferred two years ago, and why UW was supremely lucky to have Evridge agree to pay his own way his first semester. Garrett Graham remembered that he's a stud. The receivers realized that they could get open, especially with 9 guys crowding the box. The pass blocking actually started, umm, blocking. The defense began bending less and less. Then the big gains commenced. Big pass yards in chunks. To Graham, to Kendricks, to Gilreath, to Jeferson. Some continuing decent gains on the ground, though nothing spectacular.

And the march was on. Then in the second half, the interception barrage began, adding serious logs to the fire. Niles Brinkley showed his former wideout ball skills with two nice picks, though one was a gift. Carter did his center field action on badly two terrible balls, though he dropped one. The short field led to easier points as the rolling continued.

Really, from the first quarter on, the only negatives were the fumbles. PJ fumbled once on fourth down, with Mickey Turner thankfully recovering. But then he and Evridge couldn't get their act together on a simple handoff, which Marshall jumped on. For some reason, Brown's quick-hitter style was working better in this game anyway, so even though PJ sat after the last fumble, the team didn't really suffer.

So it was a weird experience really-- furious anger and frustration, to slight redemption, to the defense actually doing something, to more points, and further points, and more yards, and then you look up and every non-redshirting running back on the roster has scored a touchdown. The second-string offensive line, with the second-string QB and receivers and third-string tailback has paved a touchdown drive. And the back-up defenders don't even allow a scoring drive. In the end, a remarkable game and a dominating performance. It just cam about in bizarre way-- via a fourteen point deficit, erased largely through the air. Wild stuff.

I don't know what it means for Fresno State next week, an intensely worrying game. It looks like Wisconsin can throw the ball, even without their best offensive player, at least against iffy pass defenses. Last week proved the Badgers can run the ball on undersized front sevens. The defense hasn't really proved much of anything, except that it can switch back and forth from looking excellent to looking mediocre. But, hell, 51 straight points? That's enough to feel pretty good for today.

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