Bits and Bytes - Wisconsin

We head to Madison, but leave behind some notes and items to watch during Saturday's contest.


Eight-six Mountaineers got playing time is last Saturday's blowout against UTC, a number that will shrink significantly this Saturday against Wisconsin. One player that I'll be interested in watching is quarterback Danny Embick, who did not play in the first half against UTC.
Game Info
WVU 0-0, 1-0
UW 0-0, 2-0
Sat. 9/7 Noon EST
Camp Randall
Series: UW 2-0
TV: ESPN Regional
BCS: WVU-nr - UW- 21
Line: UW - 15
Stats & Trends
Head coach Rich Rodriguez said that he planned to play Embick against the Mocs, and he did, but not in the manner that many people expected. Most Mountaineer observers figured to see Embick in action in the first half.

Playing the backup quarterback is a good thing, but I'm not a big fan of prescribed substitutions during a game. Saying "I'm going to put in the backup QB on the first series of the second quarter" can often cause more harm than good. What happens if you start that first possession on your own three yard line? It's probably not a good idea to give a QB his first snaps of the contest in that situation, but if you lock yourself into a pattern you might just lock yourself into a disaster.

I think it's much better for the coach to go by "feel" in substituting players in. That way, the coach can take game conditions into account and not put a player into a situation where he doesn't have a reasonable chance of success.


We've been concentrating on the Wisconsin running game against West Virginia's rushing defense all week, but I'm also concerned about the Mountaineer pass rush. UTC threw the ball so quickly and so short that there wasn't a good chance to evaluate the effectiveness of the pass rush out of the 3-3 stack.

Also something of a mystery is Wisconsin's offensive line. As good as the behemoth Badgers are at run blocking, their pass blocking is average at best. Fresno State was able to get good pressure on Wisconsin quarterback Brooks Bollinger, and WVU hopes to do the same with a variety of stunts and zone blitzes.

Speaking of Bollinger, he is a solid runner with the football, but he didn't look overly comfortable in the pocket in either of the Badgers' first two games.

This matchup is full of questions on both sides of the ball, and it should be interesting to see which group comes out on top.


In looking back over this week's analysis and previews, I find that most of our coverage has concentrated on the Wisconsin offense versus WVU's defense.

Click for Madison, Wisconsin Forecast
While the Mountaineer offense and Wisconsin defense have some interesting confrontations to be played out, it just seems as if all the compelling questions are on the other side of the line.

Am I going to fix that here? Well, no. I think WVU will be able to move the ball adequately. I think Wisconsin's defense is respectable. But I also think that it will be the play of the Mountaineer defense that decides this game.


Can Syracuse be as bad as they looked against BYU lst week? I don't think so. But, if they lose to North Carolina, who turned in a woeful performance of their own, they might be headed for the nether regions of the conference. I don't think that's going to happen, though.

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