November 16, 2009

Series by series: UW's offense against Michigan

MADISON - Fully understanding that the 2009 season has been one of struggles for the Michigan Wolverines, the attitude in the Wisconsin locker room following the Badgers 21-point win was one of extreme satisfaction. Offensively, Wisconsin's performance was one of its best ever against Michigan.

Before heading into coverage of the Big Ten finale against Northwestern, BadgerBlitz.com takes a look back at UW's 45-24 win over the Wolverines.

The following is a series by series recap of every offensive possession for UW.

First quarter:

Drive No. 1: Started on UW 20 yard line following 48-yard Zoltan Mesko punt.
Plays: 5
Yards: 80
Result: 22-yard Garrett Graham touchdown reception. (7-0 Wisconsin)

Key play: The Badgers really didn't waste any time attacking a weak Wolverine secondary. During the drive, Scott Tolzien had completions of 27 and 22 yards, including the touchdown pass to Graham.

Drive No. 2: Started on own 20 yard line following kickoff. (7-7)
Plays: 3
Yards: -17
Result: 34-yard Brad Nortman punt.

Key play: John Clay didn't start the drive off very well when he was dropped for a three-yard loss on the first play. Then, after an incomplete pass to Nick Toon, Tolzien was sacked by Brandon Graham and flagged for intentional grounding on top of it.

Drive No. 3: Started on UW eight yard line following blocked field goal.
Plays: 3
Yards: 2
Result: Jordan Kovacs interception.

Key play: On third and eight, Tolzien tried throwing to Toon. The only problem was that Tolzien threw one way and Toon ran the other. As a result, Michigan was able to intercept the pass and capture great field position.

Second quarter:

Drive No. 4: Started on UW 25 yard line following kickoff. (10-7 Michigan)
Plays: 14
Yards: 75
Result: Eight-yard Toon touchdown grab. (14-10 Wisconsin)

Key play: The Wolverines had forced UW into a fourth and 20 situation and obvious punt. However, on the play, Nortman was drilled after the Michigan player failed to block the punt. As a result, U-M was flagged for roughing the kicker that gave UW a first down and new life on the drive. Five plays later, the Badgers scored a touchdown.

Drive No. 5: Started on UW 25 yard line following 31-yard Mesko punt.
Plays: 3
Yards: 11
Result: Michigan fumble recovery for touchdown. (17-14 Michigan)

Key play: Graham came off the edge and drilled Tolzien who never saw him coming. The ball popped out of his hand and Ryan Van Bergen picked it up and scored the touchdown.

Drive No. 6: Started on UW 26 yard line following kickoff.
Plays: 6
Yards; 74
Result: One-yard John Clay touchdown run. (21-17 Wisconsin)

Key play: The Badgers targeted the middle of the field for the majority of the game. On this drive, Tolzien, who had struggle through the first quarter and a half, found Toon for 36 yards and Graham for 23 on back-to-back plays across the middle to set up the touchdown.

Third Quarter:

Drive No. 7: Started on UW 20 yard line following second half kickoff.
Plays: 10
Yards: 80
Result: 15-yard Toon touchdown reception. (28-17 Wisconsin)

Key play: Not only was it the play of the game for the Badgers, but it might also have been the play that elevates Toon into a Big Ten premier receiver. In single coverage and with the cornerback interfering, Toon was able to out jump the defender, reach over him and haul in the Tolzien fade for the score. It was a great play from a great player that has had back-to-back big games for the Badgers.

Drive No. 8: Started on the UW 34 yard line following kickoff. (28-24 Wisconsin)
Plays: 8
Yards: 66
Result: Seven-yard touchdown reception by Lance Kendricks (35-24 Wisconsin)

Key play: On the opening play of the drive, Tolzien hit Isaac Anderson for 24-yards. However, a holding call on Gabe Carimi negated the penalty. (It should be noted that Carimi was not happy about the call after the game.) Following the penalty, Clay broke off a 33-yard run to pick up a first down on first and 20.

Drive No. 9: Started on the UW 40 yard line following Niles Brinkley interception.
Plays: 10
Yards: 60
Result: One-yard Tolzien touchdown rush. (42-24 Wisconsin)

Key play: The Badgers simply wore down the Wolverine defensive line on this drive. Clay, Montee Ball and Zach Brown all broke off runs of double-digit yards.

Fourth Quarter:

Drive No. 10: Started on UW 30 yard line following 41-yard Mesko punt.
Plays: 15
Yards: 60
Result: 28-yard Philip Welch field goal. (45-24 Wisconsin)

Key play: There weren't many pretty plays during this drive, but it didn't matter. UW simply exerted its will and ate up a majority of the clock. Fifteen plays total, 14 rushes and one field goal was just the typical Wisconsin game-ending drive.




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