Sept. 21, 2013
BY MIKE LUCAS
After turning off the microphone from his work with the Wisconsin Sports Network, UWBadgers.com Insider Mike Lucas offers his take on the Badgers’ 41-10 win over Purdue.
PLAY OF THE GAME
On a third-and-1 from the Wisconsin 30, James White put into practice what tailbacks are taught: make the safety miss if he’s standing in the hole.
White got his money’s worth because he made not one, but two, safeties whiff on a 70-yard touchdown run that pushed the Badgers into a 14-10 lead that they would not relinquish.
White used a jump cut to get past Purdue’s Anthony Brown, who has been subbing for the injured Landon Feichter, last season’s leading tackler for the Boilermakers.
Once in the open field, White deked past Taylor Richards, who came up with nothing but air. Richards came into the game leading Purdue in tackles.
In the second half, White showed off his moves on a 35-yard screen pass. White already has nine catches this season, three more than he had all of last year.
Besides running and receiving, White also made some key pickups on blitz protection to give quarterback Joel Stave the time to find receivers downfield.
OFFENSIVE PLAYERS OF THE GAME
It would be impossible to separate White and Melvin Gordon. Both finished with 16 carries. UW coach Gary Andersen laughed afterwards when asked if they were on a pitch count.
It just worked out this way -- with Gordon rushing for 147 yards and White for 145.
There has been a lot of talk in chat rooms about the need to get Gordon more touches. But the current system is working nicely in that the Badgers always have a fresh back on the field.
Gordon showed his strength running between the tackles, another sign of his ever-evolving game. Corey Clement, meanwhile, looked hungry and took advantage of his touches.
DEFENSIVE PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Wisconsin was missing two starters in outside linebacker Brendan Kelly, who didn’t take a snap, and cornerback Peniel Jean, who was injured early in the first quarter.
Vince Biegel got his first career start one week after Joe Schobert likewise started for the first time. It may sound cliché, but the coaches are constantly preaching about practicing like a starter.
But it’s true, there’s no substation for preparation.
If there was one turning point defensively, it was on the possession following Ricardo Allen’s interception. The Boilers had first-and goal from the UW 10.
Michael Caputo brought down Akeem Hunt after a 5-yard run and then Dez Southward got credited with a huge tackle-for-loss on the next play as Hunt lost two yards.
On third down, Chris Borland broke up a pass on the goal line that he felt like he should have intercepted. Nonetheless, the Badgers held Purdue to a field goal, a win for the defense.
After that, the Badgers dominated the game.
The injuries to Kelly, Jean, tight end Jacob Pedersen and center Dallas Lewallen have to be a source for concern.
Beyond that, the Badgers responded to a difficult situation -- the Debacle in the Desert -- with a solid effort.
By doing so, they made another statement.
What was the first statement? The way everybody handled the disappointment from last Saturday night.
It speaks volumes for the direction of this season and this program.