Saturday’s win against Nebraska left Wisconsin with more questions than answers on the offensive side of the ball.
Running strategy change coming?
Dare Ogunbowale was by far the man of the night on the offensive side of the ball. The senior captain would finish with 120 yards on 11 carries. Ogunbowale would also add a touchdown in overtime that would end up being the game winner.
“Dare came up big,” Coach Chryst said after the game. “We hadn’t been doing a ton of running out of our three wides.”
Moving forward, Wisconsin will be expected utilize Ogunbowale in the run game more than they have after that performance. It seemed most times Clement was running into walls, whereas Ogunbowale was getting to the second level of the defense all night.
Clement would end the night with 19 carries for 82 yards, which is not too shabby. But, he only averaged 4.3 yards per carry compared to Ogunbowale’s 10.9 yards per carry.
Two quarterback system? Hot-hand strategy? Relief quarterback?
If the game against Nebraska is evident of a larger game plan, Wisconsin’s coaching staff is going to plan on riding the hot hand when it comes to the quarterback position.
Going into the game head coach Paul Chryst said he was going to plan on using both quarterbacks moving forward and Bart Houston had referred to himself as a “relief pitcher.”
Houston would finish the game for Wisconsin at quarterback after replacing starter Alex Hornibrook after an interception. The two quarterbacks would end up combining for 114 yards on 14-of-23 passing. Hornibrook was also able to add a touchdown, while both he and Houston would throw interceptions.
“Never a plan. That’s kind of how our coaching staff goes. No plan. I’m pretty cool with it too. It’s just whatever happens, happens,” Houston said.
Houston may be going with the flow, but going back and forth between two quarterbacks is rarely advantageous for football teams. Chryst may benefit from clarifying what kind of quarterback system Wisconsin is going to use moving forward.
That decision, though, is made more difficult because neither Houston or Hornibrook stood out in the passing game.
Wisconsin’s defense is still improving
Wisconsin’s defense, despite facing numerous injuries taking key players out for the year, keeps improving. The defense absolutely shut down Nebraska’s passing offense as they combined for 10 breakups and two interceptions. On the year, Wisconsin has played eight games, and has limited opponents to under 20 points in seven of them, the lone gaffe coming against Ohio State. The Badgers’ allowance of 14.6 points per game is 3rd in the country, trailing only Michigan (11.6) and Florida (11.7).
Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong was held to 153 yards passing, two interceptions and no touchdowns.
After shouldering the blame for two close losses against Michigan and Ohio State, cornerback Derrick Tindal stepped up early with a breakup as Armstrong tried to air out a long pass in the first half.
Junior D’Cota Dixon, who has slowly morphed into the star player in Wisconsin’s secondary, finished with an interception on a tipped pass and then sealed the victory for Wisconsin when he broke a fourth down pass attempt in overtime.
The season ending injury to Jack Cichy was a huge blow as Cichy brought passion and intensity to the defensive front. Leon Jacobs and Ryan Connelly, though, filled in nicely as he tied the team lead in tackles with seven solo tackles and 11 total.
Never bet on college kickers. Never. No matter how consistent they have been, they are always at risk of missing a field goal.
Andrew Endicott, Wisconsin’s backup field goal kicker, proved that on Saturday night. Against Ohio State two weeks ago, Endicott drilled three out of three field goals and many figured him to be a consistent leg moving forward as a replacement for the injured Rafael Gaglianone.
But after being shaky against Iowa, that went out the window. With time winding down in the fourth quarter, Endicott missed what would have been a game-winning field goal from 45 yards away. Earlier in the game, Endicott had made a field goal from 44 yards away.
Then in overtime, after Ogunbowale ran in a touchdown, he shanked an extra point.
Wisconsin looks to capitalize on their momentum, bringing a two-game win streak into Evanston next week when they play Northwestern on the road next Saturday at 11 a.m. CT.