Nov. 14, 2010
MADISON, Wis. -- Lost in all of the points that were scored against Indiana were a couple of teaching points that potentially could have more value to the Badgers than the style points from an 83-20 rout.
Both came early in the game when it was still a game.
On the UW's first possession, the offensive line opened some gaping holes for tailback Montee Ball who had runs of 23 and 18 yards on his first two touches.
"We had a couple of big hits right away," noted left tackle Gabe Carimi.
"Anybody could have run through those holes," Ball said.
"We had a pretty good day," Carimi suggested dryly.
Do you think?
On this same series, Ball was stopped for no gain on the Indiana 1-yard line. While he was in the grasp of middle linebacker Jeff Thomas, there was the temptation to extend the football - to reach for the goal line with the hope that he would be able to break the plane. But he thought better of it.
Teaching point No. 1.
Lesson learned from the Iowa game.
"Oh, man, of course, I was thinking about it (extending the ball)," Ball said sheepishly afterward. "I told myself, `I can't do that' because the coaches told me I can't do that. Take the yard and get down."
On the next play, Ball scored the first of his three touchdowns.
Was there any difference going into the game as the starter?
"Most definitely," said Ball, who finished with a career-high 167 rushing yards. "As the starter, you have to set the tempo right away because everyone is looking at you. I had a great feeling today."
Did he have any inkling during the week that he might have this kind of a performance?
"In practice, I felt that I had a good rhythm, and I wanted to make sure it carried over to the game," said Ball, who got the start because John Clay was sidelined with an injury. "As a team, we practiced extremely hard last week, and we were focused and ready to play."
Do you think?
"As an offensive lineman, it really doesn't matter to us who's running the ball," said Carimi, who didn't play in the second half as a precaution after bruising his leg in the second quarter.
So it doesn't matter who's carrying the rock? Clay? Ball? James White?
"We're going to block the same way and open the same holes," Carimi said.
You should have seen the size of those holes.
"You could drive a truck through them," said White. "When the holes are that big, it's our job as running backs to run through them and make somebody miss down field."
White, who finished with 144 yards and two scores, added some perspective, too.
"It's their job to stop us," he said. "If they can't stop us, so be it."
Historically, the Hoosiers have had trouble stopping Wisconsin's running attack.
Two years ago, the Badgers rushed for 441 yards and three different players went over 100.
Last year, they ran for 294 yards with Clay and Ball each running for over 100.
The beat goes on. Or, rather, the beat-down.
"It definitely started to snowball," Carimi summed up.
The Hoosiers showed some life on their second offensive series when they got a 67-yard run from tailback Nick Turner and scored on a 2-yard touchdown pass from Ben Chappell to Tandon Doss.
Teaching point No. 2.
"There are holes and weaknesses in any coverage," said UW safety Aaron Henry. "If I would have gotten over there a second earlier, it would have probably been an interception. But it was something we corrected when we got back to the sidelines and we fixed it right then and there."
In the fourth quarter, game, Henry picked off a deflected pass and returned it 37 yards for a touchdown. Last week, it was Antonio Fenelus who had the Pick Six at Purdue.
"My secondary coach," Henry said of Chris Ash, "always talks about how sometimes you just have to be lucky. What we're trying to do is take advantage of someone else's mistakes. Indiana had a few today, and we were definitely able to capitalize."
There was one sobering moment for Henry in the first quarter of Saturday's game when he combined with defensive end David Gilbert to make a stop on Indiana tailback Antonio Banks, who was helped off the field with what appeared to be a knee injury.
"I consider myself a good tackler," said Henry. "All week, Coach Ash has been screaming and emphasizing that I have to get down whenever the tight end blocks down. So, I saw him block down and our D-end (Gilbert) fought off the cut block, and the back (Banks) didn't have anywhere to go.
"We were both there for the tackle. As soon as I hit him, I saw him grab his knee and all I could do was drop to my knees and start praying. It's unfortunate that injuries do occur in this game."
Henry speaks from first-hand experience.
He blew out his knee and went through a long recovery period.
"It's a tough, hard-nosed sport," Henry said. "It kind of makes you question why you play the game of football when you see so many injuries. But it happens. I hope the kid (Banks) is alright. I wasn't able to talk with him after the game. But I will continue to pray for him and his health."
Defensively, the Badgers will face an enormous challenge next Saturday at Michigan where the Wolverines are getting maximum production out of quarterbacks Denard Robinson and Tate Forcier.
Even though Robinson was guilty of four turnovers (two lost fumbles, two interceptions) in Michigan's win over Purdue, he will still be the starter against Wisconsin. Robinson and Forcier alternated possessions in the second half against the Boilermakers.
Robinson is No. 2 in the country in total offense (340.7) and No. 3 in rushing (141.7).
"Oh, my gosh, it's similar to Ohio State when he (Terrelle Pryor) starts to scramble," Henry said of Robinson and the pressure that he can put on a secondary with his dual-threat skills. "I know the kid can run. But if we can force him to be a pocket passer, we'll have a chance."
Henry had a special thrill Saturday when his mother, Willie Henry, attended her first game at Camp Randall. That's why his Pick Six was timely. Like others, he had no explanation for all the points that were scored.
"Never been in any kind of game where a team has that many points," he said. "I've heard Culmer (St. Jean, the UW middle linebacker) talk about his high school team winning 85-0. But you just don't think you're going to be able to score 83 points in a conference game."
But it happens.
"We made a statement today," he said.