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Badger Rewind: UW stays true to identity

ON WISCONSIN <b>LG John Moffitt opens a hole for RB Montee Ball during Saturday's 48-28 win over Michigan.</b>
LG John Moffitt opens a hole for RB Montee Ball during Saturday's 48-28 win over Michigan.

Nov. 21, 2010

MADISON, Wis. -- About 90 minutes before Saturday's kickoff, Wisconsin defensive end J.J. Watt was going through his pregame stretching routine.

What separated Watt from the other players from both teams who were casually warming up on their own was location, location, location.

Watt was stretching on the block "M'' in the middle of Michigan Stadium.

"Every game I stretch in the same spot," Watt said. "I stretch in the middle of the field - on the 50-yard line -- home or away. That's what I always do."

Might not his location be taken the wrong way by the Wolverines (not that anyone objected)?

"I could see that," Watt said. "But it's just something I do every game. If they see it, and take it the wrong way, that's fine. But that's where I stretch and I will continue to do that."

And that's symbolic of these Badgers.

Here's who we are, here's what we do, stop us.

Nobody has since the Big Ten opener.

When did the Badgers start believing they could make this kind of statement?

"We've believed all year," Watt said. "The hiccup at Michigan State (a 10-point loss on Oct. 2 in East Lansing, Mich.) was exactly that, a hiccup. All year, we've believed in ourselves. We know if we play our style of football - if we play our game - we're going to have success."

Mike Lucas
UWBadgers.com Insider

Now the Badgers are one game away from claiming a share of the Big Ten championship.

At the very least.

And they don't need anyone's help.

"We know what's on the line next week," Watt said of Saturday's regular season finale against Northwestern at Camp Randall Stadium. "Our fans know what's on the line. Everybody in the state of Wisconsin knows what's on the line next week."

That's also symbolic of these Badgers.

They know what they want, and they take care of business.

"We knew what we had to do," said offensive guard John Moffitt, who was addressing the second-half game plan at Michigan -- punctuated by 29 consecutive runs (before two kneel-downs to run out the clock) and only one pass attempt.

"That's what we want," Moffitt said of the offensive line shouldering the burden of opening up holes for the tailbacks even though the Wolverines could anticipate what was coming every snap.

Here's who we are, here's what we do, stop us.

"That's what Wisconsin football is about," said Montee Ball. "I knew they were going to put the load on me and James (White) and we both wanted to make sure we were getting the job done."

Ball had 29 carries for 173 yards and four touchdowns.

White had 23 carries for 181 yards and two touchdowns.

"This is a dream school for a running back, and that's why I chose to come here," White said. "It has a great tradition for runners and I wanted to be a part of it."

Every time the Wolverines scored, the Badgers were able to counter-punch with Ball and White.

"They're a nice complement to each other," Moffitt said of the one-two punch. "Montee is a grinder, a hard runner. I'm not saying James isn't. But he's more finess; makes big cuts and finds space."

When asked about quarterback Scott Tolzien's 7-yard run in the first half -- which resulted in an open field collision with linebacker Kenny Demens - Moffitt said, "Someone needs to teach the kid how to slide or he needs to learn how to juke. He's a precious part of the offense."

In other words, his own, they can't afford to lose Tolzien.

Moffitt was also asked about drawing a flag for a chop block which erased a Ball touchdown on the UW's first offensive possession of the second quarter. It turns out that Michigan nose guard Mike Martin was holding up center Bill Nagy preventing him from getting to the second level of the defense.

"Billy was getting held and that's how the high-low came about," Moffitt said. "We don't do that, we don't play like that and we weren't intentionally trying to high-low anybody. Billy was trying to get through and he (Martin) was holding on to him when I came in and cut him (Martin).

"That's the call that they have to make. That's the right call. It was rough on me because I knew that was a touchdown. I'm on the backside of the play, so you can ask, `Is that necessary (to cut)?' I could have done a better job with my techniques, but that's in our game plan."

They know what they want, and they take care of business.

That was true of the UW offense when Michigan was rallying in the third quarter. "They came out with a lot of fire and they played hard the whole second half," Moffitt said of the Wolverines. "Offensively, we knew that we had to keep putting points on the board."

No big deal. One side picks up the other.

"Offensively and defensively, we have such a great relationship," Moffitt said. "We don't play the blame game. We work off each other and we're not afraid to have the defense's back -- just like they had ours three weeks ago at Purdue. The defense kept getting us the ball in the second half."

Watt confirmed the all-for-one/one-for-all sentiment. "I love watching our offense," he said. "When I can sit on the bench and watch them go to work, it's huge for our team."

Watt added to his impressive resume by deflecting and intercepting a Denard Robinson pass. "I wish he wasn't so fast and I wasn't so slow, so he wouldn't have caught me," said Watt, a former tight end at Central Michigan, who was tackled by Robinson after running 15 yards with the pick.

"I've been waiting for that interception," he continued. "Louis (Nzegwu) told me (earlier in the week) that was one of the two slots that I still have left opened on the stat sheet."

Solo tackles, check. He has 33.

Assisted tackles, check. He has 19.

Total tackles, check. He has 52, third-most on the team.

Tackles for loss, check. He has 18.

Quarterback sacks, check. He has six.

Interceptions, check. He has one.

Passes broken up, check. He has seven.

Quarterback hurries, check. He has seven.

Fumble recoveries, check. He has two.

Forced fumbles, check. He has one.

Blocked kicks, check. He has two.

What's left?

"Now I just need a safety," Watt said. "We'll see if we can do that."

They know what they want, and they take care of business.

"Our destiny is in our hands," said Moffitt, looking ahead to Saturday's matchup against Northwestern and the ultimate reward: a Big Ten championship. "Our preparation has to be there all week. We have to respect it (what it means to come this far) and finish out the season right."

Here's who we are, here's what we do, stop us.

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