Saturday, October 18, 2008

UW-Iowa: Getting Kicked When Down

Today marks the second Saturday in a row where the Badgers looked listless, clueless, and hapless. Yikes. What's maddening about this Wisconsin team is that they are nowhere near as bad as they've looked in the past few weeks. Yes, the quarterback play has been consistently wavering from passable to atrocious and the offensive line is missing its best player, but everywhere else there's still pretty solid talent. But no one looks comfortable. No one looks confident on either side of the ball. Ok, maybe Phil Welch (the kicker) looks confident.

I think the problem, ever since the blown lead at Michigan, is that they've had no resilience, no ability to overcome mistakes. So the only way to then win is to play mistake free football, which is essentially impossible at the amateur level, especially when playing quality opponents. This past game, and in the Penn State game, every time the offense got penalized, you knew the drive would stall. Every opposing drive, when the defense gave up a big play, you knew that the play broke their spirit, that the other team would go on to score. This is harsh, but they've shown no heart, either on offense or defense. Or their confidence (or ability) is just non-existent. I'm not a coach. I'm not in the locker room. I just don't know.

What ever it is, it's rippled out into every corner of the team (again, except for Welch's play). Wherever you could screw up, they've screwed up: coaching, play-calling, mental mistakes by the players, penalties (time to check the record books), getting beat physically, poor fundamentals, terrible special teams play (have you ever seen the other team's gunners getting to UW's returners more consistently?).

Comparing this team to the team that played the middle 45 minutes against Ohio State, and played tough, winning football at Fresno State, it's bizarre. It's night and day. And right now, it means last place in the Big Ten. The first 0-4 start in the league since 1996. But this time, there's no Ron Dayne on the bench to redeem the season.

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