Aug. 31, 2013
BY MIKE LUCAS
After turning off the microphone as the analyst for the Badger Radio Network, UWBadgers.com Insider Mike Lucas offers some final thoughts on Wisconsin's 45-0 win over UMass.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Believe it or not, there are momentum swings in 45-0 game.
Wisconsin twice left points on the field in the first half.
After marching to a first-and-goal from the UMass 5 yard line in the first quarter, the drive grinded to a halt and the Badgers were forced to settle for three points.
In the second quarter, the Badgers were marching again -- on the strength of a 24-yard run by James White -- when the UMass defense stiffened and forced a field goal attempt.
The kick was wide and the miss seemed to ignite the Minutemen.
On the subsequent possession, UMass put itself in a position to put some points on the board. As it turned out, head coach Charlie Molnar took the points off the board.
Molnar called a timeout erasing a successful 47-yard field goal by Blake Lucas.
On the re-kick, Lucas missed wide left.
Two plays later, Melvin Gordon burst through a large hole and sprinted 70 yards to a touchdown. Left guard Ryan Groy, fullback Derek Watt and tight end Jacob Pedersen threw key blocks.
Consider the momentum swing: UMass would have trailed 10-3 -- had the timeout not been called -- and the Minutemen would have been kicking off with 4 minutes and 10 seconds left in the half.
Instead, UMass found itself in a 17-0 hole.
If Gordon’s run wasn’t the Play of the Game, then, it set up the Play of the Game.
Coming off the field at the end of the second quarter, UW coach Gary Andersen voiced his disappointment in the passing attack to the Wisconsin Radio Network.
The first play of the third quarter was telling in this respect.
It was like Andersen and offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig delivered a message to the offense -- expressing their disappointment in the throw game -- and challenged the players to fix it.
That was certainly reflected in the play call.
On first down, Joel Stave connected with Jared Abbrederis on a on a 65-yard pitch-and-catch; a touchdown that broke whatever spirit UMass had left on defense.
OFFENSIVE PLAYERS OF THE GAME
It’s hard not to go with Stave and Abbrederis. Both were extremely productive in the second half. Abbrederis gave everybody a scare earlier in the game when he was slow to get up after a hit.
The Stave-Abbrederis battery ranks with any in the Big Ten.
Last year, Stave had completions of 60, 59, 54, 47, and 42 to Abbrederis.
There was more of the same Saturday against UMass, boding well for the vertical passing attack.
DEFENSIVE PLAYERS OF THE GAME
This may sound like a cop-out, but you have to give it to the entire defense.
The Badgers showed poise and promise in adapting to their new 3-4 alignment.
They also showed pride in getting a shutout, no small feat in today’s world of spread offenses.
There was a noticeable energy in the stands and the sidelines. Andersen allows his players to express themselves in a way that is very refreshing.
This was a step, albeit a small step against an overmatched opponent. But you have to start someplace, and the Gary Andersen era is off to a good start.