Nov. 7, 2010
MADISON, Wis. -- UW defensive lineman Tyler Dippel, a redshirt freshman from Slinger, provided a glimpse of how productive he can be on back-to-back plays in the second half of Saturday’s 34-13 victory at Purdue.
The Boilermakers will frequently use their own variation of the zone-read; a mid-line veer option, predicated on reading the 3-technique instead of the defensive end or linebacker.
In this case, Purdue quarterback Sean Robinson executed a play-fake on the mesh with tailback Dan Dierking and Robinson kept the ball hoping to cut back and find a natural crease in the defense.
Playing his assignment by holding his ground, the 6-foot-4, 258-pound Dippel made the stop, even though he wasn’t given official credit for the tackle in the final stats.
On the following snap, a third-and-10, Dippel rushed from the edge and drew a double-team from the left offensive tackle Dennis Kelly and Dierking.
Despite being outnumbered, Dippel disengaged quickly from Kelly and Dierking with a spin move and brought Robinson down again after a short gain, forcing the Boilermakers to punt.
“They gave me a chance to go out there and play and cut it loose, and it felt great, it was awesome,” said Dippel, a team captain and MVP his senior year at Hartford High School. “Sometimes I get a little hyped up. But I’m getting better at keying into what my job is and what I have to do.”
That last statement was in response to his defensive line coach Charlie Partridge saying earlier during the week that Dippel “has to stay focused on every play and not turn into a Tasmanian Devil.”
“I was really just learning the position when I first got here as a freshman,” Dippel admitted. “Now, I feel like I have a good grasp of the position. And I’m starting to understand what offenses want to do to us as D-lineman. It’s experience, I just think it all comes with experience.”
Coming out of high school, Dippel had a once-in-a-lifetime experience when he was named to the United States 19-and-under team which competed in the IFAF Junior World Championships.
Dippel injured his knee in Team USA’s semifinal victory over Mexico during which he had two sacks and a forced fumble. As a result of the injury, he was held out of the championship game; a 41-3 rout of Canada at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio (the site of the NFL Hall of Fame).
When Dippel reported to the Badgers last season, he was obviously not at 100 percent. Compounding the situation, he was limited during spring practice because of a shoulder injury.
“It’s always frustrating when you feel like you could be helping the team and something is limiting you,” Dippel said. “But that’s just something you have to work through. You have to persevere. Things happen and, in time, you’ll get your chance and when you do, you have to make the best of it.”
That sums up Dippel, an undersized (he’s not as big as listed weight) overachiever who was not present for the Austin Peay game because he was attending his grandmother’s funeral in California.
That sums up this Badger football program: family first.
Turnovers. That sums up Saturday’s win. “Our defense has been struggling to get turnovers,” Dippel said. “And that was something we had been really emphasizing this past week in practice.”
What was said at halftime, if anything, to pick up the tempo?
“A few guys raised their voices,” said UW middle linebacker Culmer St. Jean. “I said something, Jay Valai, J.J. (Watt) and Aaron (Henry) all said something. A lot of guys spoke about what we needed to do in the second half. We were down four points, and we knew that we had to make some plays.
“We didn’t make a lot of adjustments. Instead, we just had to execute. That was the biggest thing for our defense. We had to execute and be optimistic.”
St. Jean didn’t waste any time putting his words into action. On the first series of the third quarter, Purdue had a third-and-5 from its own 25. In the first half, the Boilers had converted on six-of-nine third downs, so this was a meaningful sequence to see if the Badgers could reverse the momentum.
Like a quarterback making his reads off a progression, St. Jean checked down the numbered receivers to the right side of the Purdue formation and that left him free to fall back on his instincts.
“I read the quarterback’s eye and fell back to the backside (of the route),” said St. Jean, recognizing that the Boilers were trying to sneak tight end Kyle Adams behind him. “The quarterback took me right to the ball and I just grabbed it and tried to get into the end zone.”
St. Jean didn’t score but he set the tone for the second half as the Badgers picked off Robinson three times and converted those mistakes into 21 points, the difference in the outcome.
“Coming into the game, we knew that he was a freshman quarterback,” St. Jean said of Robinson who was making his first collegiate start. “We knew if we kept playing tight coverage, he was going to throw us a couple and that’s what happened in the second half.”
Reflecting on the four turnovers – which matched the UW’s total through the first four Big Ten games – J.J. Watt said that it becomes contagious and “competitive on the sidelines” to the point “where everyone wants a pick, everyone wants a piece of the ball.”
When UW coach Bret Bielema was asked about what was said at halftime, he dismissed any notion of Knute Rockne or Fire and Brimstone oratory. So what did he tell the players?
“I basically said, ‘We don’t need to come up with any superhuman effort. We just need to execute the fundamentals of what we do,’” Bielema pointed out.
Quizzed on the resiliency of his team, Bielema added, “I’m not trying to sell books for our AD, but they don’t flinch.” He was referencing Barry Alvarez’ autobiography, “Don’t Flinch.”
The last word goes to the most notable non-flincher on this team, J.J. Watt. By overcoming the lackluster first half on both sides of the ball, Watt promised, “We’re going to be better moving forward.”