August 30, 2008

Offensive analysis from game one

MADISON, Wis. - In what turned out to be an old-fashioned UW football game dominated by the run game, the Badgers left Camp Randall with a 38-17 victory over Akron. In total, the Wisconsin finished the day with 479 total yards, 404 of which came on the ground.

The following is an offensive positional breakdown following the season opener:


Allan Evridge: 7-10, 75 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT

Best Drive: While Evridge certainly did not get many chances to showcase his throwing skills, he did make two plays early in the first quarter that led to the first Badger touchdown. After starting the game handing the ball off to P.J. Hill and Zach Brown six straight times, Evridge found tight end Garrett Graham near the sideline with a perfect pass for the 20 yard gain. Two plays later he found Graham again, this time for a wide-open touchdown on a play-action pass.

Worst Drive: Just before the end of the first half the Badger's had a first and goal from the Zips one-yard line. Following an illegal substitution penalty, Evridge threw an ill-advised fade route that was intercepted by the Akron defender and returned 62 yards. The Zips would get a field goal out of the turn of events and go into halftime trailing by only 7 instead of 17.

Analysis: The interception is a play that is bound to happen to every quarterback. Not all interceptions can be blamed on the quarterback, but most are. The one that happened in the second quarter in Saturday's game was one that should not have happened. Those are the throws that Evridge needs to stay away from especially as the schedule gets tougher in the upcoming weeks.

Grade: B-. The interception inside the opponent's 10 yard-line was crucial and could have been a major momentum swing against a better opponent. To Evridge's credit, he did seem very poised in his first start at Camp Randall and managed the game decently.

"I thought he took a great leadership role in the huddle," guard Andy Kemp said. "He played well, he tried to help us out as much as we could with the snap count and everything like that. I thought he had a really good game and can't wait to see him in the future."

Running Backs:

P.J. Hill: 26 carries, 210 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 fumble lost

Analysis: Because the running backs split time, it is hard to figure Hill's best drive. With that being said, Hill was dominant against the Zips. He set the tone with the first possession of the game and found the gaps his linemen were giving him. Aside from his fumble that rolled out of the Zips end zone, Hill was flawless. Even so, the stud running back was just trying to reach the ball across the end zone when it got knocked out so you can't blame his for his competitiveness. Hill broke the 200-yard plateau for the second time in his career and helped lead his team to what turned out to be an easy victory.

"I think he's cutting and moving," Bielema said. "He also had some breakaways today…He's shiftier than most people would think by looking at him. But I think even this year, the way he's been able to find holes and cut back against the grain has been better than ever before.

Grade: A. Even with the fumble his 8.1 yards per carry on 26 attempts is pretty remarkable.

Zach Brown: 15 carries, 87 yards, 1 TD

Analysis: Brown proved once again that he provides a change of pace in the Badger backfield. He can lower his shoulder and play more physical than his size suggests, but his strength is his speed and quickness. The three-man rotation the Badgers present will wear a defense down all while keeping UW's backs fresh. Against the Zips, especially when he found the outside edge, he was brilliant.

"Now you have three backs coming in with fresh legs," Brown said. "It's kind of hard to maintain that, but it's just great that we have that."

Grade: A. No fumbles, and a touchdown. It was just a very great overall game for the young sophomore.

John Clay: 12 carries, 71 yards, 1 TD

Analysis: In his first real game as a Badger, Clay could have come out wide-eyed and shaky. The exact opposite happened. He bruised his way to 71 rushing yards and impressed the more than 80,000 fans there to witness his first game. Clay really has the full package as a back. Great speed, great strength, great power, and great ability gives the rookie great potential.

"John Clay is a valuable player on our football team," Bielema said. "He is big, athletic, he can run. You can see he gets a little momentum and he brings energy to our team."

Grade: A. For his first true game, he performed very well.

Wide Receivers and Tight Ends:

Analysis: The bottom line is that nobody really got to see what the receivers are capable of doing because the ball was only thrown 10 times throughout the game.Kyle Jefferson led the team in receiving as he finished the day with two catches for 27 yards. Garrett Graham also caught two passes, one for a touchdown and David Gilreath caught two as well. Gilreath did, though, drop a potential touchdown pass early on in the game. Finally, Lance Kendricks finished out the receiving core with a grab for eight yards.

Grade: B+. The receivers did what they had to do in limited passing situations.

Offensive Line:

Analysis: Not much needs to be said here. They absolutely dominated Akron's front seven and paved the way for the running backs to tally up 404 yards rushing and allowed no sacks.

"I give them all them all the credit," Brown said. "I think I can talk for all of us that all the success goes to them because they did a great job today."

Grade: A+.

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