A View From the Sidelines - South Dakota

<b>Nick Toon's one-handed catch was certainly dazzling, but it also might have saved UW an INT.</b>


Nick Toon's one-handed catch was certainly dazzling, but it also might have saved UW an INT.

Sept. 24, 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’ 59-10 shutout of South Dakota.

By any means necessary
The play will go down as a footnote (at best), but was much more important.

Midway through the first quarter when South Dakota running back Marcus Sims slipped through the first two levels of Wisconsin’s defense, free safety Aaron Henry was left all alone as the only defender between the ball carrier and the end zone. Henry dragged Sims down and was flagged for a personal foul facemask in the process. UW was penalized 15 yards on the play, but in reality, the play saved seven points.

On the very next play from scrimmage, UW strong safety Shelton Johnson intercepted a pass at the Badgers’ 18-yard line, thwarting the Coyotes’ drive. When Henry returned to the Badgers’ sideline, safeties coach DeMontie Cross affirmed Henry’s mentality of doing anything necessary to get the ball carrier on the ground and save the touchdown.

“Ok, you got him up around the facemask,” Cross said to Henry. “But you did what you had to do to get him down.”

Toon makes looney catch
If and when the UW football team puts together a top 10 plays of the season, Nick Toon’s incredible one-handed catch will surely be on it. The catch converted a first down, but that wasn’t why it was so important.

With UW ahead, 7-0 and driving, Toon palmed a high pass from QB Russell Wilson at the USD 15-yard line. Yes, the catch was impressive, but it was pivotal because South Dakota CB Chris Frierson was waiting for the overthrow with over-the-top coverage. Had Toon not come up with the catch, Frierson might have snared the interception with nothing but open sideline in front of him.

I hope Wilson buys Toon dinner for that one.

Bull in a china shop
When LB Chris Borland intercepted Coyotes’ QB Dante Warren at the UW 35-yard line, it looked like he had one man to beat on the edge and he might have had a shot at returning it for a touchdown. But who are we kidding, he’s a linebacker… running around guys is no fun if you can run through them.

Instead of taking the outside lane, Borland turned back into traffic where he proceeded to dodge, bull rush, weave and drag South Dakota defenders to the SD 36-yard line. A former fullback in high school, it was as if Borland has asking for the contact and looking for guys he could run through.

I’d expect nothing less.

2-minute tune-up
The luxury of a 59-10 blowout like Saturday’s win is it affords the winning team a chance to work on some things. Such was the case at the end of the first half, when the Badgers dusted off their two-minute offense.

Led by new signal-caller Russell Wilson, the Badgers’ offense has not had many opportunities to play with a sense of urgency.

With 1:57 left to play in the first half, Wilson and the Badgers took over at their own 26-yard line. Wilson promptly connected with Nick Toon for 45 yards. Three more completions brought UW down to the USD 2-yard line with under 30 seconds remaining. The finishing touch came on a pretty Wilson to Toon touchdown pass, leaving just 12 seconds on the clock.

The Badgers marched 74 yards in nine plays and gobbled up all but 12 seconds. Pretty good tune-up for Nebraska Night just seven days from now.

ON WISCONSIN
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