Saturday, November 15, 2008

Bowl Eligibility Attained

What a wild and ridiculous game. The two sides, Wisconsin and Minnesota, basically take turns handing the game to each other (two safeties, one a near Krumble, aka kickoff fumble return for touchdown?), but each team is too inept to firmly take control.

True, Wisconsin made some great plays to get back into it. This game was definitely a bit of a coming out party for some of the Badgers' young wideouts, especially native Minnesotan Isaac Anderson. Anderson failed to adjust to a decent bomb in the first half, but made up for it with a fine catch on an excellent throw that was almost a touchdown in the second. Plus, he had some big third down conversions. Hill created some decent runs out of nothing. Shaughnessy and Newkirk put on some solid pressure on many downs. Aubrey Pleasant was making sure tackles in the secondary. True frosh Antonio Fenelus made a great hit to force the fumble that led to the safety.

But both teams committed plenty of boneheaded mistakes. Though Weber is a good QB, Brandon Green was way too open on that embarrassing Fourth and 18 conversion that kept the Gophers in the game. Sherer failed to throw the ball away on several downs, leading to sacks and big lossess. The Badgers' failure to pick up more than 3 yards on the Badgers' last real offensive drive was embarrassing, though at least the ran the clock down before each snap. (Lesson learned, I hope.) Whapping the ball out of bounds on the kickoff return-fumble was uber-frustrating. And Shane Carter creeping offsides on Minnesota's first two point conversion attempt was reminiscent of Travis Beckum's error against Michigan.

But the Gophers had more screw-ups. They had UW stopped on a long third down, when a Minnesota DB decided to body slam Nick Toon while both of them were out of bounds. Fifteen yard penalty, first down. Just dumb. And on the series leading into the safety, why did the Minnesota LG try to cut block Newkirk on a drop back passing play? Was he tired? (Newkirk hoped over the guard and sacked Weber at the 2.) And I have no idea why Weber held the ball so long on the second safety. Or why the Minnesota LT couldn't hold still before the snap in the second half. And of course the fumble that provided the Badgers their final touchdown-- a carbon copy of the unforced Minnesota fumble on the opening drive. What a totally bizarro game.

Maybe that's what happens when you take a bunch of late teenagers/early twenty-somethings, but them in a pressure cooker for a week, tempt them with an enormous axe, and then have them run into each other for three hours. Yeesh. Honestly, I don't think either team's performance should merit it any kudos. It was just too sloppy and too wide open of a game. But that's an agitated Wisconsin fan talking. I bet for the unbiased observer, it was a heck of a game to watch.

No comments: