MADISON, Wis. – The overall mentality amongst Badgers players after their blowout of Akron this Saturday was taking and executing the opportunities that were handed to them.
Senior running back Corey Clement ran 21 times for 113 yards and two touchdowns. Though he went out at the half with what the Badgers reported as a left leg injury, it was confirmed by Clement after the game that his removal was simply precautionary and because the Badgers had such a high lead going into the second half.
“I would have played if it was closer, but seeing how we were up a lot, why risk it,” Clement said following the game. “I had to be mature about the situation not being selfish or greedy about how many more carries I could have had in the game.”
Clement thanked the Badgers offensive line for giving him the opportunities to make plays in the game. The Wisconsin offense rushed for a total of 306 yards on Saturday. Behind Clement was Bradrick Shaw, who saw the most time in the second half. Shaw had nine carries for 77 yards and a touchdown. Taiwan Deal had 12 carries for 59 yards.
“These opportunities are really slim when you think about it for Division I football especially playing running back,” Clement said. “I just try to take every opportunity every carry and just not take it to the house but at least get a first down for my team.”
Wisconsin had almost as many passing yards as rushing yards with 20 catches for 292 yards on Saturday. While Troy Fumagalli was a main target for starting quarterback Bart Houston last week against LSU, wide receiver Jazz Peavy dominated on Saturday with seven catches for 100 yards and two touchdowns. Behind him was Robert Wheelwright with four catches for 99 yards.
“Rob and Jazz are really the type of tandem you want on your offensive side,” Clement said of the receivers. “Jazz really contributes well on the deep threat as well as Rob.”
Peavy said he and Wheelwright make a dynamic pairing because of their ability to learn from each other and work with each other.
“We’re always pushing each other,” Peavy said after the game. “I feel like we have a great receiving core even with our tight ends also. I feel like we’ve got a lot of talent and a lot of playmakers.”
Peavy’s two touchdowns were his first career touchdowns. He said that it felt good to know what that felt like and have it off his chest.
“We have a lot of weapons on offense and this week it was Jazz’s turn,” Houston said.
Houston himself had a good game. He completed 15 of 22 throws for 231 yards and two touchdowns.
“He gives us a chance [to make plays] and that’s what we love about him,” Wheelwright said of his quarterback.
The Badgers controlled the clock on Saturday with 40:52 minutes of possession time to 19:08. They were able to run and pass the ball efficiently.
“It feels really good when you march down the field,” Houston said.
Backup quarterback Alex Hornibrook saw his first real playing time in the second half when the Badgers had a significant lead. Hornibrook made 5 for 5 passes for 61 yards and one touchdown.
“It was a little less pressure than if it were a different scenario, but it was fun to be out there,” Hornibrook said of his performance.
Hornibrook thanked Fumagalli and true freshman wide receiver Quintez Cephus for making some great diving catches that gave him the 100 percent accuracy.
“We were just thinking about going out and playing as well as we could and hopefully the score reflected that, and we were glad how it turned out,” Hornbriook went on to say.
While the Badgers defense didn’t see nearly as much time on the field, they played well against a huge passing offense in Akron.
Outside linebacker T.J. Watt had his first career sack and had three tackles on Saturday.
“It was fun to come out and execute against a great team like that,” Watt said after the game.
Watt believed Wisconsin’s whole defense worked well together in its ability to stop Akron’s offense and make plays.
“You want to make stops on third down,” Watt said. “You also want to make turnovers, and I think we did that today.”
Akron only had 10 first downs compared to Wisconsin’s 32. Akron was also held to only 224 yards of total offense while Wisconsin had 586.
Safety Leo Musso who had a big interception as well as a tackle said that the defense is still not satisfied and consistently strives to get improve.
“It’s one of those things where we are a defense that is always hungry to get better,” Musso said. “We’ll never tell you that we played our best game. There’s always things you can improve on and that’s the truth. I think as we become one like we are, it’s just all about that communication and how much fun we have out there and that’s I think what everybody’s seeing.”