After turning off the microphone as the analyst for the Badger Radio Network, UWBadgers.com Insider Mike Lucas offers some final thoughts on No. 13 Wisconsin's 10-7 loss at Oregon State Saturday afternoon at Reser Stadium.
BY MIKE LUCAS
CORVALLIS, Ore. -- The odds of survival are dramatically reduced when you play the type of offense that the Badgers played against Oregon State.
With the exception of a well-executed two-minute drill on the final possession, it didn’t bare much of a resemblance to Wisconsin football. Despite the offensive woes, the Badgers still nearly survived.
The defense limited the Beavers to just 10 points despite giving up 354 total yards, 276 through the air. On the money downs, Oregon State was only 5-of-17 on third down and 1-of-4 on fourth down.
Wisconsin’s first-year punter Drew Meyer impacted field position by averaging nearly 40 yards on seven kicks, which included three that were downed inside the 20. But for the second week in a row, the UW defense didn’t have any takeaways and that was more surprising Saturday because the Beavers were one of the most turnover-prone teams in college football last year with 31 giveaways. The UW offense could have used a short field.
The inefficiency on third down was glaring (2-of-14 for Wisconsin), but even more damaging and uncharacteristic were the two turnovers, a Danny O’Brien interception and lost fumble. The latter came after the Badgers trailing 10-0, drove to the Oregon State nine-yard line in the third quarter. At the very least, a field goal would have gotten them on the board and given them some much-needed momentum. Turnovers in the red zone are magnified in close games and this was no exception.
Onside, just off
Lining up for an onside kick, Kyle French felt confident, and rightly so. Based on how Oregon State was deployed on the front line, the Badgers opted for the right option – a dribble kick, or the equivalent of a drag bunt in baseball. A new NCAA rule makes the old standard end-over-end onside kick more problematic because the defense can’t hit the player receiving the kick until after the ball has taken one bounce or hop.
French did everything right, dribbling the ball out in front of him and putting himself in position to recover. French cannot, nor any of his teammates, touch the ball until it has traveled 10 yards. The Badgers recovered the football, but the play was reviewed upstairs and it was ruled that French had touched that ball before it went the necessary 10 yards.
However, one camera angle seemed to show Oregon State’s Tyrequek Zimmerman touching the ball with his left hand and moving it forward. That would explain as a result, French reaching back for the ball when it made contact with him, just before it crossed the line. It’s unclear if the officials saw that camera angle. In the end, the Badgers shouldn’t have been in that position.
If you believe in the law of averages, the Badgers are long overdue to win a video replay.
The pain of injuries
To tweak an old cliché, injury was added to insult as the Badgers lost three starters, Brendan Kelly, Shelton Johnson and Jared Abbrederis. It becomes even more important now that they don’t lose sight of who they are and the goals that they’ve set for themselves this season.
Some egos may have been bruised, some feelings hurt and some more questions raised – certainly more than anyone anticipated at this stage of the season. But the truest measure of this team, and the season, will be determined by the resolve the players show in rallying around its leaders and reviving the concept of playing Wisconsin football.