Sept. 10, 2011
BY PATRICK HERB
UW Athletic Communications
MADISON, Wis. -- As the radio sideline reporter for the Badger Sports Network, Patrick Herb spends game day pacing the Wisconsin sideline. His up-close-and-personal vantage point allows him a unique perspective and an insider view. Here are some of his thoughts from the Badgers’ 35-0 shutout of Oregon State.
The Wisconsin defense didn’t create a turnover in its season-opening win over UNLV, and the Badgers really didn’t even get many hands on the ball. There must have been a direct emphasis on doing that in game two Saturday vs. Oregon State. UW would force just one turnover (a fumble forced by Shelton Johnson), but there were Badger paw prints all over the football.
Wisconsin tallied a whopping 10 pass breakups -- the team’s most since 2002 -- including a pair from Chris Borland and Antonio Fenelus. The message was sent early.
On the Beavers’ first possession, Devin Smith got his hands on a pair of passes. On the second series, LB Ethan Armstrong jarred a pass loose with a big hit and Fenelus broke up the third-down attempt. OSU’s third drive of the game ended just like the first two as Borland notched the third of three breakups on the possession.
It’s no surprise Oregon State came out running the ball on its fourth series.
This land is Borland, this land is my land
Many questions have surrounded sophomore LB Chris Borland this season as he returns from shoulder injuries that kept him out of most of last season. Throw in a position change from outside linebacker to middle linebacker and many have wondered if he will be the playmaker he was during his Big Ten Freshman of the Year campaign of 2009.
Borland quietly led the Badgers in tackles in week one vs. UNLV, but didn’t make any game-changing plays we are used seeing from him.
Saturday against Oregon State, Borland again led UW with nine tackles, but a closer look saw him make a pair of plays that reminded me of what he brings to the table. On back-to-back possessions in the first quarter, Borland blitzed the A-gap and forced Oregon State QB Sean Mannion into third-down incompletions.
On the first blitz, Borland’s pressure right in the face of Mannion forced an early throw which teammate Antonio Fenelus broke up down field. On the second blitz a few minutes later, Borland did the breaking up, leaping into the throwing lane and batting the ball down.
Two blitzes, two punts.
When the games get closer later on this season, I expect to see more and more of Borland in the backfield making plays and causing chaos.
Special teams miscues doom Oregon State
Playing on the road against a top-10 team, there are a few things you simply cannot do; turning the ball over and making critical mistakes on special teams are high on that list.
All three of Wisconsin’s first-half touchdowns were directly aided by Oregon State special teams miscues.
First, a staggering negative-4-yard punt from Johnny Hecker gave Wisconsin plum field position at the OSU 14-yard line. The Badgers would take a 7-0 lead three plays later.
During the second quarter, a 15-yard personal foul penalty on a Hecker punt awarded the Badgers the ball at midfield. This time, UW would score eight plays later. The final critical error came on the ensuing kickoff as OSU return man Keynan Parker caught the kick and stepped out of bounds at his own 3-yard line. That brutal field position led to another Hecker punt and another Badger touchdown.