Oct. 15, 2011
BY KARL ANDERSON
UW Athletic Communications
MADISON, Wis. -- There are numerous ways in which a football team can score a touchdown. On Saturday, Wisconsin crossed several off the list.
In addition to the running and passing touchdowns that have lit up the scoreboard this season, the Badgers also reached the end zone thanks to a punt return and a defensive fumble recovery. Oh, and don’t forget the passing score from running back Montee Ball to quarterback Russell Wilson.
Yes, the Badgers showed their versatility in Saturday’s 59-7 win over Indiana and added to the ever-growing list of things opposing coaches need to watch out for on the film.
The first quarter opened in a very traditional manner as Ball and James White both scored rushing touchdowns.
The Badgers’ coaching staff opened up the playbook in the second quarter, though.
Facing a second-and-6 at the Indiana 25-yard line, Wilson pitched the ball to his right to Ball on a sweep. After selling the run, Ball pulled up and threw back to the left to Wilson, who was streaking up the far sideline.
Despite being a bit wobbly, the pass hit Wilson in stride and he waltzed into the end zone untouched.
“That was actually probably Montee’s worst throw since we’ve been running that play,” head coach Bret Bielema said. “I said just get it in the area, Russell’s a pretty good athlete, he’ll come down with it.”
Wisconsin added two more scores in the first half as Ball ran for another score score, Philip Welch kicked a 38-yard field goal and Wilson hit Jacob Pedersen for a 3-yard touchdown.
In the second half, Jared Abbrederis became the first Badger to return a punt for a touchdown since David Gilreath did it at Northwestern on Nov. 21, 2009.
Indiana’s Adam Pines hit a low, line-drive kick which Abbrederis caught at the UW 40-yard line. Thanks to the Badgers’ wall, Abbrederis ran up the sideline to the Indiana 25 before he met any Hoosier.
After breaking a tackle, he was forced to cut back to the middle of the field before cutting back toward the sideline and reaching the end zone. Key blocks from Bradie Ewing and Kyle Zuleger helped spring the play as well.
Ball ran for his third touchdown of the game later in the third quarter before the UW defense provided the lone score of the fourth quarter.
Thanks to a Brad Nortman punt that was downed at the Indiana 1-yard line by Antonio Fenelus, Indiana found itself in a dangerous situation. Stephen Houston gained one yard on a rush, but on the next play Edwin Wright-Baker failed to handle the snap properly. Freshman linebacker Derek Landisch came away with the loose ball in the end zone.
With that, UW matched its season-high of 59 points set against South Dakota.
Defense continues stingy play
To put into perspective just how good the Wisconsin defense has been in 2011 in keeping teams off the scoreboard, consider this:
Twice this season the Badgers have put up 59 points in a game, including Saturday’s win over Indiana. For the entire season, UW opponents have scored just 58 points.
Wisconsin entered Saturday’s contest yielding 10.2 points per game. That figure has now been lowered to 9.7.
There have only been two seasons in program history -- 6.6 in 1951 and 8.6 in 1958 -- in which the Badgers have held opponents to under 10 points per game.
Indiana was averaging 250 passing yards per game heading into the contest, but the Hoosiers only gained 64 yards through the air. Of IU’s 287 yards of total offense, 223 came on the ground.
Linebackers Chris Borland (15) and Mike Taylor (13) each posted double-digit tackles for the Badgers. It was the first time since O’Brien Schofield (11) and Jaevery McFadden (10) did so on Sept. 12, 2009 against Fresno State that two UW players had 10 or more tackles in the same game.
In the secondary, Antonio Fenelus and Aaron Henry each recorded an interception for the second straight game. After not recording a pick in the first four games of the season, the Badgers have now intercepted seven passes in their last three games.
Nortman boots season-high six punts
With the Wisconsin offense operating such a high level, punter Brad Nortman has not seen the field very much in 2011. He came into Saturday’s game with just 10 punts on the season, only one of which was returned.
Things changed a little against the Hoosiers, as the senior had to punt a season-high six times for 263 yards. It was the most punts for Nortman since booting six kicks against Michigan State last season.
Against the Hoosiers, Nortman was quite effective. He averaged 43.8 yards per punt and had three kicks land inside the 20-yard line. Only one punt was returned by the Hoosiers, giving Nortman a net average of 42.2.