If No One Scores Does it Really Count? The Tale of the 2011 Badgers Spring Game
I hope that all you Badgers fans got a chance to come out to Camp Randall and experience the stadium with family and friends. Unfortunately for those that were in attendance that was about the only treat we saw, as the on the field performance left a lot to be desired. It was not exactly a picture of offensive execution as the White team(Defense) defeated the Cardinal(offense) 29-27 in front a very good crowd at Camp Randall.
Now you may be thinking, 29-27, how's that even possible? Well in all actuality it was 3-0 White. The extra points were put on the board thanks to a series of "Rapid Fire" kicking sessions that led to one of the loudest cheers of the game, as Philip Welch booted a 61 yard FG following the 3rd Quarter. Yep, that's right folks the most exciting moment of the game was a kicking exhibition that wouldn't even have come up in real life.
Normally I would give out grades by position and things like that, but simply put the offense gets a big fat F, don't get me wrong, a total A for effort, but F for execution. Time and again we saw all 3 QB's sail balls to wide open receivers or throw behind them and if it wasn't that it was a simple case of the drops and no one seemed immune from doing that. Even the running game wasn't all that impressive, outside of the one big run by James White for 22 yards we didn't see anything more than a 10 yarder. To be fair though it is just "1 of 15 practices" as QB Jon Bumayr(10-23 for 113yds and 1 INT) stated. I actually liked that mindset as it shows a willingness to not let the highs and lows affect you. However, it is alarming to me that the two biggest standouts on the offensive side of the ball were freshman.
Offensive MVP: Manasseh Garner(4rec for 57 yards). Most impressive was that to start the Spring this Redshirt Freshman was supposed to transition towards TE, but a lack of depth and his explosive ability led the coaching staff to keep him out at WR and he showed today that he's got sure hands and willingness to catch the ball in traffic. A close second is another Freshman, QB Joel Stave(8-15, 77yds). I would've put him as the MVP simply because he was the only one of the 3 QB's to see significant playing time to not throw a pick and apparently that was a hard thing to do today. Not only that the kid has only been on campus since January as an early entrant and has earned constant praise from the coaching staff ever since. He clearly has confidence, evidenced by getting up at a team dinner with the Chancellor and not only playing but singing "Piano Man" not even 2 months after coming to Campus.
Another kid who deserves some mention is also an early entrant Freshman by the name of Kenzel Doe. He's a short but explosive WR that flashed an ability to stretch the field nearly at will and would've put up amazing numbers if it weren't for a few Pass Interference calls or overthrown balls. In the end I'm excited to see these 3 players grow and possibly take over the Badgers program in the not so distant future.
The 3-0 score tells you all you need to know about the defense in this game. Pitching a shut out on the offense is one thing, but doing so in a fashion that made nearly every facet of the offense look bad is a whole different story. They got a ton of pressure, only gave up 1 big running play, made a ton of tackles for loss, and had interception chances galore(3 INT's actually happened).
Defensive MVP: This one was actually harder to come by as there were a number of really great performances on the Defensive side of the ball, but I have to go with one David Gilbert. The DE replacing J.J. Watt went off for 6 tackles(2 of them for losses) and a sack. Not only was he making plays but his effort also allowed for the outside LB's to make plays in clean space rather than being fought by an offensive lineman.
Overall I came away with many more questions about this team than I had heading down to Madison, but in the words of Allen Iverson "Are you talking about Practice? Practice? Come On Man!" I think they will fix the issues with the WR core by the fall because it's more a matter of getting on the same page and that's something that only 15 practice sessions can't fix. I still remain hopeful that Budmayr can compete and win the job as the starting QB, but it wouldn't surprise me to see Stave get some game action early in the 2011 season either. If you'd like to hear more on how Head Coach Bret Bielema thought the Spring Game and Spring camp went you can find the whole press conference at http://www.uwbadgers.com/allaccess/?media=242678 Finally, if the defense that showed up today does so in the fall this is one hell of a football team we just may have on our hands. I hope you got a chance to enjoy the Spring game today. Look for some great audio and video and an exclusive post game interview tomorrow and as always... ON WISCONSIN!!