AAR: Fresno State

No fear. The Badgers have faced adversity a few times this season, but most directly in the second half at Fresno State. Despite a big momentum shift, the defense hung in there, made the plays it had too, and hung onto the razor thin margin we maintained to the end.

Here's the UW video recap: http://www.uwbadgers.com/video/Default.aspx?mid=2524

Fundamentals. You hear that all the time, but what does it mean? Here are two things it means: taking the right angle on pursuit (thus preventing underneath crossing routes from going for 60 yard touchdowns) and not committing false starts and holding penalties (though I understand two of those were a little questionable). Those two things really hurt the Badgers Saturday night in Fresno. Ball security is another "fundamental." Not turning the ball over is what won the game for us, and arguably what lost it for them.

Offensive Play Calling. After a dominant performance in the first half that a couple of penalties and one very stout goal line stand by the Bulldogs prevented from turning the game into a route, Chryst got a little too clever. It's interesting to see fans complain that we're one dimensional. We're not, we run a very balanced attack, but Saturday night we probably should have been more one-dimensional in the second half. After a pretty balanced show (though the only touchdown drive was heavy on running), our running game was clicking when it had the chance in the second half. If it's there, Paul, take it. I felt like we could have rammed the ball down the Bulldogs throat a bit more. Of course, when you're taking false start penalties, making every first down five more yards away, it's tough to rely on the run. Penalties really are drive killers, and those false starts in the second half were brutal.

The players who stood out to me on offense were Graham, of course, Hill, who looked the part of #1 back for the first time this season (as far as I'm concerned), and the O-line, which has yet to give up a sack on the season. Evridge stood out, too, but mostly for his struggles in the second half.

Defensive Play Calling. I felt like our corners were playing too soft all game, but going into the game I was scared their receivers would burn our inexperienced and slower corners. So maybe that was the right move. In the 4th quarter, when it really mattered, we started bringing more blitzes. It worked. DeAndre Levy came up with some huge plays, Shaughnessy was awesome (Bielema named him the game MVP). Casillas, though he missed a tackle on the long touchdown, tracked down the 60-yard screen play, showing the speed we love him for, and made what Bielema called the game saving tackle.

The game didn't turn out at all like I expected. I expected offensive fireworks and instead we got a defensive struggle. One in which I felt we could have won much more easily. Of course, Fresno State fans would point out they could've won, had their kicker made two of the three he missed (to be fair, 47 and 51 yard field goal attempts are not close to gimmees).

Here's the Big Ten Network's take (hope everyone's buying Rotel for their queso): http://link.brightcove.com/services/link/bcpid1640149616/bclid1740033548/bctid1788945209

No comments: