Sept. 16, 2012
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 16-14 win over Utah State at Camp Randall Stadium.
BY MIKE LUCAS
MADISON, Wis. -- Most of Wisconsin's position coaches this week were trying to come up with some inspirational material or quotes to maybe spark their players. Zach Azzanni used a line from General Patton. To paraphrase, "Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom."
Maybe the best quote that fits this team so far this year, was credited to a lot of different players, including Ludacris, the rapper.
It reads, "If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn't lead anywhere." There have been a lot of obstacles in front of this team -- especially the offense -- since the start of the season, and the Badgers did some things early in this game that didn't help their cause, with procedure penalties that put them behind the chains.
But they found a way to win, they found a way to survive and, maybe, thanks to the defense playing well for the second week in a row, they have time to develop the identity they haven't had up to this point.
There were two examples of resiliency.
One, obviously, was Kenzel Doe, who called for a catch on a punt inside his own 5 yard line and knew as soon as he looked at the yard marker that he had misjudged where he was on the field. But he bounced back with punt return for touchdown, one that immediately conjured up memories of a Josh Hunt.
Not many people will remember Hunt, but in the 2000 season (which was, ironically enough, the last time the Badgers had a shot at going to a Rose Bowl for a third-consecutive year) Hunt brought back a punt to electrify the crowd and trigger Wisconsin's rally in the season opener against Western Michigan.
That was the first thing I thought of with Doe and how he redeemed himself from a play that he made in the first half. The same can be said of Drew Meyer, who, after shanking a punt, came back and got a good kick off late in the fourth quarter. The field position game is so very important.
It might not have looked like it tonight, but I thought Wisconsin got back on track with its running game. There were seams, there were tailbacks who were getting to the second level -- most notably Montee Ball -- and that's a really encouraging and positive sign for the future of this offense, which everybody knows has gone through an identity crisis if nothing else.
Some of those procedure penalties might have been a result of some anxiety -- trying to get off the ball --- but that's the worst thing that could happen. Being aggressive on the line of scrimmage is something that was lacking in the Badgers' first two games, and you saw a little bit of that Saturday.
It's just a matter of time, if they continue to block like they did against Utah State, before Montee Ball has some bigger and longer runs. The same goes for the other two tailbacks, James White and Melvin Gordon.