Inconsistent Offense Common Thread for Badgers

TAMPA, Spectators and fans unfamiliar with the Wisconsin football team saw the Badgers season unfold in microcosm in the 2005 Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium here Saturday. With one main exception: Wisconsin lost.

Led by sophomore quarterback John Stocco, the Badgers had difficulty generating and sustaining offense against the Georgia Bulldogs. The inconsistency was a recurring theme throughout Wisconsin's season and it came to full fruition in Georgia's 24-21 win.

"We weren't consistent offensively all year and yet we found ways to win," Wisconsin head coach Barry Alvarez said. "We went three games in a row and scored one offensive touchdown and still won the games." Not this time, however. Stocco's two-point conversion pass to Johnathan Orr brought the Badgers to within 24-21 with 3:17 remaining in the game. But Georgia was able to run out the clock. Wisconsin was left to ponder missed opportunities.

Stocco was anything but boffo through the first 38 minutes of the game. At halftime, he had completed just 4-of-13 passes for 37 yards. He missed open receivers badly at times.

"I had a lot of opportunities to complete some passes early on I just didn't hit them," Stocco said. For the regular season, Stocco finished in the middle of the pack among Big Ten quarterbacks in passing yardage with 177.2 yards per game. He ranked ninth in passing efficiency.

"If you don't throw the ball accurately consistently you're not going to have a very consistent passing game," Alvarez said.

Wisconsin's most consistent offensive threat is running back Anthony Davis who entered the Outback Bowl with a 136.0 yards per game average. Georgia held him to 19 yards rushing in the first half.

"We didn't have the passing game and the running game together at the same time clicking both ways. You need to have that," tight end Owen Daniels said. "When we were playing well, both things were working well for us and opening up the other facet of the game."

Daniels caught a 30-yard pass during Stocco's shining moment of the game: an eight-play, 88-yard drive that culminated with a Stocco to Darrin Charles touchdown pass. Trailing 24-6 and left for almost dead, the drive gave the Badgers a temporary lift. Stocco was 4-of-4 for 75 yards on the drive.

"My confidence isn't hurt at all. I know I could have played better, but I felt like late in the game I did some good things, we did some good things," Stocco said. "That's just what we're going to build on those and also look at what we did wrong and try to understand why that went wrong and just try to correct it and get better."

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