On the Road

The Badgers haven't been very good on the road the last two years (of course, they weren't very good anywhere last year). This battle for the Axe is going to be huge for both teams.

As if we didn't all know that without me writing it . . .

Keys to Sparty

Both teams will pass well against soft opposing defenses, but neither will make it through the entire game without mistakes in the passing games (drops, misses, INTs). The team that wins is the team that establishes the run and is able to control possession in the 4th quarter.

MSU has the better linebackers, but I think the Badgers have a better defensive line. Moreover, the Badgers offensive line is, I think, a better run-blocking line (though retarded in progress due to injuries). Finally, I'm confident the Badgers have the better tailbacks.

Slight edge to the Badgers.

BUT . . .

It could be wet tomorrow. Turnovers?

While the Badgers have the better +/- (+2 vs. even), we have also put the ball on the carpet much more than MSU (it's just that we've caused more turnovers, too). In a wet game ball security could be the determinative factor. That worries me. A lot.

PS. For those curious about my tepid enthusiasm for the Badgers on this one, look no further than Scott Tappa's write up this morning: http://badgercentric.blogspot.com/2009/09/2008-revisited-game-4-and-michigan.html

Football Season Starts Now

Michigan State: wounded warriors.

Minnesota: in their new home.

Ohio State: at the Shoe

Iowa: 'nuf said.

Play time is over.

Quick Thoughts on Wofford

(1) See, we didn't overlook them. Good.

(2) Zach Brown is the best back on the team. Period.

(3) Good to see Moffitt and Nagy back in there. That bodes well for conference play.

(4) Gilreath was as bad as Clay hanging onto the ball.

(5) I liked what I saw from Phillips. He's a nice changeup. The problem is how to handle him in a close game where the offense is struggling. Do you put him in for the changeup, or does that risk ruining Tolzien's rhythm.

(6) I like the young players, but Schofield is by far the best player on our D. I think the best four are probably Schofield, Watt, Taylor, and Maragos, in that order. Maragos is a real leader.

(7) Toon is looking great.

(8) Still having penalty problems.

(9) Great to see Kendricks get involved. We have so many quality targets to throw to. Which leads me to . . .

Finally, is there any doubt that the player of the year in non-conference play is Scott Tolzien?

Why I've Decided To Overlook Wofford

That's just how it is. I'm overlooking Wofford. I have the September 26 date with Sparty circled. This weekend? Meh.

You can't overlook anyone, right? I can, and I will. I hope the Badgers don't.

And that's the thing. They won't. I'm fairly confident the Badgers have a 1-point escape over Cal Poly seared in their collective memory. And thus, the triple option will die a quick death at Camp Randall.

How did I get there?

The triple option works for teams like the academies and FCS squads because so few teams employ it. So you have one week a year to prepare for this crazy offense that just doesn't look like anything anyone else on your schedule is doing it.

But that's not all. The other thing that inevitably happens (and this should sound familiar) is that the BCS squad underestimates its competition. Those little Cadets/Middies, or Mustangs, as the case may be (or Terriers, sure, Terriers, too), the BCS squad just knows they will physically dominate them. (This is also what makes Paul Johnson's Georgia Tech such an interesting experiment; they don't have any drop off in talent and size.)

Then they don't. That scrappy, undersized teams comes out, survives the punch in the mouth, and starts scoring points. About the second quarter the BCS guys looks up at the score board, see they are really losing this game, and start taking their week-long coaching and preparation seriously.

And normally the BCS squad comes back and wins. But sometimes they need a kicker to miss three extra points to get there.

And that's where this year is different. The Badgers won't spend any time overlooking the Terriers. They don't want a repeat of Cal Poly and should come out in the first quarter to prove it.

Oh, and the Terriers' best back is out with an injury.

So anyway, I'll watch the game, but I'm overlooking it because I know our squad isn't. Go Badgers.

Calling All Badger Videographers

Ok, so how come the only highlight videos on youtube right now are from our vanquished opponents? I mean, it's not like we're packing 80K plus in every game, is it?

Seriously, some guy from NIU puts together a 10-minute deal of their loss, and a Fresno State fan puts together 5 minutes of the Bulldogs whuppin' up on us (I always like highlight videos showing all the great plays the losing team made).

Anyway, BigAlJeff has done some nice work, but can we get anyone on this game-by-game?

Doeren: Credit Where Due

The defense was getting shredded in the first half. At halftime Doeren made the adjustments needed. The secondary was still soft, and Fresno State's quarterback's mistakes contributed, but the bottom line is Fresno scored only three points in the second half. He couldn't do any more with the players he had. That was solid coaching.

Likewise, Chryst earned his money on Saturday. The setup and play to Anderson was spectacular, as was Clay's touchdown. Well played.

Quick Hitters on Fresno State

Gratifying win. Team fought back, coaches made the right adjustments. Guys made plays. Team won against a quality opponent (I think; now don't go all Fresno State on us, Fresno State).

Some thoughts, in no particular order:
(1) Maybe it was the flu, but I remember thinking the secondary would be a strength for the defense. It sure wasn't today.

(2) Man, do I like Schofield. He's a player.

(3) Tolzien! He's also a player.

(4) Our running backs look good, but our line looks bad. And remember when I was worried about depth on the line? Yeah, how's that going?

(5) Clay ran with a lot more purpose this week.

(6) Still thinking about the line: I sure hope not having the flu, and having Moffit back in there makes the running game work better (though Konz did a phenomenal job, given what he was asked to do).

(7) If our line can start blocking for the run, this could be a special Badger offense. Seriously. And I think we only lose Graham and Turner next year (though those are big losses).

(8) The defensive line and the linebackers made the right adjustments. After looking like a seive in the first half, they looked good in the second.

(9) I loved the 57-yarder to finish the first half, but Welch still looked shaky; even his 22-yarder for the win was just inside the upright. He needs to spend extra time in the McClain center this week.

(10) Gratifying, if stressful, win. 2-0.

Fresno State, in Short

31-17, Badgers.

I've got a little more over here, but here's Fresno State in brief:

(1) Stop the run up the middle; contain the edges.

(2) Improve our running game to manage the clock (though rotating eight defensive lineman will help regardless).

(3) Improve in the kicking game.

(4) Stay out of the infirmiry.

Fresno State is pretty good, but Wisconsin is better. Put a stamp on the Bulldogs, a good tune-up for Sparty in two weeks.

Check the Bulldog Bounce to see what the Bulldogs think about this game (it's interesting).

The Cynic: It's Only One Week.

It's a twelve game season, but man, people get so amped for football to start that they fall all over themselves to react when things finally kick off. Folks, it's been one week, and there haven't been that many truly interesting games.

Let's review:
Michigan is now about #30 in the AP poll as a result of beating Western Michigan. Ok, nice win, but it was Western Michigan. Decent MAC team, yes. Does it really erase a 3-9 season? I don't think so.

Speaking of which: Notre Dame's beat down of Nevada? Nevada, like Western Michigan, might be a decent non-BCS squad, and yeah, ND looked good, but isn't that what should happen in that game?

Week two is a lot more telling for both of those teams.

Miami at Florida State. They looked evenly matched, with good offense, but mediocre defense. Does that mean both teams are "back?" No, it means they were evenly matched. Let's see what happens.

Back to our league for a minute. Ohio State struggled with Navy. Guess what, lots of teams struggle with Navy. Pardon me if I don't all of the sudden think OSU is going in the toilet.

Speaking of which, Penn State destroyed Akron. Shouldn't they?

And Iowa struggled with Northern Iowa. That's not good, but it also doesn't make the season. Talk to me in a few weeks about the Hawkeyes. For now they are 1-0.

Minnesota struggled at Syracuse. Playing on the road is tough -- ask LSU about that (or Maryland). While I still question how good the Gophers are, like Iowa they are 1-0. Let's see how they handle Air Force and Cal in their new house.

MSU and Northwestern won big. Like Penn State, shouldn't they?

And the two remaining teams? Ok, I'll pile on on these two. (1) Juice has never been that good. Color me unsurprised by the Illini's loss to Mizzou. (2) Indiana is still Indiana. I'm prepared to live with both of those conclusions after one week.

Oklahoma State . . . solid win over Georgia, but I'm not sure either team is really that good.

Boise State . . . who is going to beat them? If ever there was a team with a one-game season, they are it. Here's hoping Fresno State and Nevada turn in good years and push the Smurfs.

But, kudos to BYU. If they are in the BCS hunt in November, they will have earned it, beating Oklahoma on the road, playing Florida State, and their decent conference foes Utah and TCU.

One last thing: the Boise player deserved it. I'm ok with suspending Blount for the rest of the season because he couldn't collect himself, but for the punch itself I think only a few games would have been enough. The Bronco in question got what he paid for.


Liked what I saw and I'm excited to see this season unfold.

More from me, including the criticisms (there are several), here.