After physical contests, and rewarding wins, against No.1 Ohio State and No.13 Iowa and with four teams with spread offenses still on the schedule, the week off not only provides a week to rest the weary, but a chance to refocus and refocus.
"With the way the season laid out, it's a good week for us to transition our train of thought," Doeren said Monday. "We're so beat up … and it's really a good time."
In addition to tackling in space, something Doeren said the team struggled with Saturday, the big focus for the Badgers (7-1, 3-1 Big Ten) this week is getting people healthy, especially after UW Coach Bret Bielema needed to rely on many reserves to beat Iowa, 31-30, at Kinnick Stadium with a good chunk of his roster needing medical attention.
Wisconsin's Badger package was already dinged up with Chris Borland out for the season with reoccurring shoulder problems. So when defensive end David Gilbert (Borland's replacement) getting injured during the game, the Badgers had to turn to converted safety Kevin Claxton.
With defensive end J.J. Watt wanting to rush tackle Markus Zusevics, the junior would normally move Gilbert down into position. With Claxton being the replacement, the junior gave Claxton instructions to rush the guard.
"We were laughing about that pretty hard on the way back," Doeren said.
Claxton finished with five tackles, but none were bigger than the first series of the second half. Ricky Stanzi hit Brett Morse in the flat on third-and-three, but Claxton showed good discipline guarding the flat in Cover 3 and tackled Morse one-yard short of the first down marker. Iowa punted and Wisconsin went 80 yards in 12 plays to take a 17-13 lead.
"They had a little momentum coming out of half with that (late) score," Doeren said. "We needed to get the ball back for our offense and take their crowd out of it. That was a good stop."
Another linebacker that can benefit from some rest if sophomore Mike Taylor. Taylor, who played with a sprained left ankle and a sprained lateral collateral ligament in his left knee, hobbled around enough to tackle Iowa running back Adam Robinson in bounds in the final seconds with the Hawkeyes out of timeouts.
"That was kind of our day," Doeren said. "To me, Mike kind of epitomized what we are all about. Those guys just laid it on the line for the team, whether they were healthy or not, doing more than they would have to. Some guys had to play two positions, and that's how we won."
Doeren also signaled out Ethan Hemer, filling in for the injured Jordan Kohout, and his six stops, saying he missed a few tackles, but played outstanding. As a whole, UW's defensive line gave up only 114 rushing yards and after Adam Robinson's 30-yard run in the first quarter, the next longest run was just 11.
"We held up pretty well there and held up pretty well in the play-action pass game," Doeren said.
Another O-Line Shake-Up
After not playing against Ohio State and not making the trip to Iowa last week, Josh Oglesby will miss the remainder of the season with reoccurring knee problems. That news was revealed by Bielema Monday morning to a Madison-area radio station that the redshirt junior left tackle re-injured his knee last week.
Bielema expects everybody other than Oglesby and Chris Borland to be back for the Nov. 6 game against Purdue. Oglesby redshirted his freshman season in 2007, so he likely will have one year of eligibility remaining.
"You certainly feel sick for Josh," Offensive Coordinator Paul Chryst said, ",any guy that loses an opportunity to play. That's what all this is about is you've got a small window as a player to play. And when you lost that opportunity, you feel bad for them, but you live in a world, especially week to week, where you've just got to keep moving forward."
Wisconsin's depth at offensive line has been one of the strengths this season and it started with Oglesby's nagging injury. He started the season at right tackle, but missed games two games after suffering a left knee injury against San Jose State in Week 2. Redshirt sophomore Ricky Wagner started Week 3, redshirt freshman Casey Dehn started Week 4 and Wagner started again for the conference opener, even after Oglesby was cleared for the conference opener.
UW's top line – left tackle Gabe Carimi, left guard John Moffitt, center Peter Konz, right guard Kevin Zeitler and right tackle Ricky Wagner – has been solid, and can still operate no matter the personnel.
Against Iowa, Konz only played a half on a swelling ankle before giving way to fifth-year senior Bill Nagy, who snapped for the first time in his career. The results were Wisconsin scoring 31 points and registering 347 yards of offense against a team averaging 13.2 points and 288.8 yards per game entering the weekend.
"It's a credit to the kids and Bo (Bostad) coaching them," Chryst said. "Billy has played a lot of football and he should be able to step into those situations. You appreciate the fact that it got done."
Other than a bad snap on a shotgun snap, Nagy was perfect and even on that play, Scott Tolzien still flung a pass to Isaac Anderson in the flat for a three-yard gain. Wisconsin ran its fake punt the next play for 17 yards gain and continued its march to the end zone for the winning score.
"The football gods are real," Chryst said. "That wasn't an easy catch either."
Same Play, No Fumble
When running back James White made the freshman mistake of getting the ball knocked out after trying to reach it over the goal line in Week 2 against San Jose State, Bielema said it was a rookie mistake and that they run the ball over the goal line at Wisconsin.
So when Montee Ball reached the nose of the football over the goal line with 66 seconds left for the go ahead score, there was a difference between the two.
"He didn't fumble it out of bounds," Chryst said with a laugh.
From a coaching perspective, was that the only difference?
"Close," Chryst said. "(If he would have fumbled), that would have been bad."
For their strong performances in Wisconsin's win at Iowa, junior defensive end J.J. Watt was named co-Defensive Player of the Week and junior punter Brad Nortman was named co-Special Teams Player of the Week, the Big Ten announced Monday.
Watt posted one sack and two tackles for loss, part of a five-tackle day against the Hawkeyes. In addition, he blocked an extra point in the first quarter, which proved to be the difference in the game. Watt's lone sack of the game came at a crucial time as he brought down Ricky Stanzi for an 11-yard loss with just 26 seconds left in the game, forcing Iowa to take a timeout.
Nortman had two punts for 96 yards, including a 54-yarder, but his biggest play came on a run up the middle 17 yards for a first down. Wisconsin ended up scoring the go-ahead touchdown on the drive and then held off the Hawkeyes to get the win.
It's the first time since the Hawaii contest on Dec. 6, 2009, that the Badgers have had multiple player of the week honorees. Watt and Nortman become the fourth and fifth UW players to be honored by the Big Ten in 2010 and their accolades make five weeks in a row that Wisconsin has earned weekly honors.