Game Day Grades – Indiana

MADISON – Bret Bielema said No.6 Wisconsin did a good job imposing its will against Indiana. Nobody will argue with that, as the Badgers, whether they wanted to or not, got some style points in their 83-20 victory over the Hoosiers. Badger Nation hands out the grades.

Quarterbacks

There aren't too many complaints too good around from this game, especially at the quarterback position. Tolzien was virtually ineffective the week before at Purdue, struggling to jumpstart the offense, and bounced back with 15 or 18 pass completions for 181 yards and three impressive touchdowns. He finished with a pass efficiency rating of 222.8.

Freshman QB Jon Budmayr threw his first career touchdown pass, completing a 74-yard pass to Jared Abbrederis in the fourth quarter. That pass was also UW's longest play from scrimmage since an 80-yard pass from Tolzien to Isaac Anderson on the first offensive play of the 2009 season (Sept. 5, vs. Northern Illinois).

Junior quarterback Nate Tice saw his second action of the season, scoring his first career touchdown on a 17-yard naked bootleg that looked like slow motion.

"Nate is a neat story," Bielema said. "Everybody knows that Mike (Tice) is his father with the Bears and he's getting beat up all the time with Bears-Packers-Vikings and all that jazz. He's done a nice job coming in here … and has been a very good locker room guy."

Grade: A+

Running Backs

With rainy, cold temperatures, it was a necessity to have a successful running game, especially when the weather gets even worse as the season progresses. Considered then 338 yards, six touchdowns and a 7.2 average a success, especially with the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year on the sideline in a track suit.

"It's fun to watch because what you believe in and what you drill for so long every day of the year, to come full circle in front of you, is fun," Bielema said.

In his first career start in place of John Clay, sophomore Montee Ball went over the 100-yard mark in the first half and recorded career highs in yards (167) and touchdowns (three). It was the highest rushing total for a UW back this season.

"I really do thing Montee understands the schemes," Bielema said. "Montee had 30, 40 offers out of high school … and he came here because of our style of offense. He chose us based on the way we play. I'd say it's working very well for him."

After missing the Purdue game with a knee injury, freshman back James White returned to the lineup and rushed 19 times for 144 yards and two touchdowns, a performance that earned him Big Ten Freshman of the Week for the third time this season.

The holes the offensive line opened up were gigantic. After Indiana missed the 52-yard field goal, Ball ran through a gaping hole on the right side, created mainly by junior guard Kevin Zeitler and sophomore tackle Ricky Wagner, and rumbled 36 yards to the Indiana 30. On the next play, White blasted through the left side, created primarily by Moffitt and Carimi, and was hardly challenged on his way to the end zone.

"They were real big," said White. "You could drive a truck through them. When they are that big, you just have to keep doing what you are doing."

Grade: A+

Receivers

With Tolzien on track, Wisconsin's passing game gladly followed suit. Six players caught at least two passes and four different players caught a touchdown pass. Nick Toon caught his first touchdown pass of the season and sixth of his career at the end of the first half, capping a five play, 46-yard drive that took just 46 seconds; Lance Kendricks caught an 11-yard pass at the end of e third quarter to make it 59-13; Jake Byrne caught his first career touchdown pass at the start of the second half and Abbrederis grabbed the 74-yard bomb from Budmayr.

The receivers caught nine passes for at least 10 yards, which is extremely efficient and bodes well for the unit going against a porous Michigan defense.

Grade: A

Defensive Linemen

Indiana quarterback Ben Chappell had been rarely pressured all season long … until he met the Badgers' front four. Chappell was under fire from his first snap until he was knocked out with a hip injury. His two back-up quarterbacks didn't get treated much better. The Badgers front four tackles for loss, one sack, two fumble recoveries (one forced) and a staggering four quarterback hurries.

J.J. Watt was the team's co-MVP of the week by recovering both of those fumbles, two of the hurries and two of the tackles for loss. Junior defensive end Louis Nzegwu, who continues to emerge as legitimate pass rusher, had five tackles, two for loss, and a forced fumble. Freshman tackle Beau Allen also recorded four tackles, as he continues to get better with every rep.

With the score the way it was, the Badgers rotated 11 different defensive linemen from kickoff to final buzzer. That's an impressive achievement that will pay dividends down the road.

Grade: A

Linebackers

Three of 14. That's the biggest stat that jumps out on the defensive side of the ball when one sees what the Badgers held the Hoosiers to on third down.

Kevin Claxton had four tackles, Culmer St. Jean had three and plenty of younger players rotated in to the position. Hard to critique a group that didn't put up eye popping numbers, but were solid throughout the day.

Grade: B

Secondary

After the passing game was such a dominant force between these two teams last year, the Hoosiers managed only three players over 20 yards and only 149 passing yards, its second-lowest total of the season. Two of the plays went for over 60 – a 67-yard run by Nick Turner in which Watt and Aaron Henry took a bad pursuit angle on and a 62-yard pass completion go Duwyce Wilson in the fourth quarter after reserve cornerback Josh Peprah appeared to slip in coverage.

Big kudos to junior Aaron Henry, whose mom was in the Camp Randall stands for the first time and rewarded her trip with a 37-yard interception return for a touchdown. Henry was the beneficiary of a high tipper pass off the hands of Wilson and fell right into his hands. He raced untouched into the end zone and quickly turned and looked for his mom, seated behind the UW bench.

"As soon as I got in the end zone, that's why I wrapped around the pylon pretty fast," Henry said. "I knew where she was sitting. I just pointed to her. I really appreciate her coming up here."

Antonio Fenelus – who returned an interception for a touchdown the week before – tallied five tackles and a forced fumble and junior Devein Smith made a big tackle on third-and-10 from the UW 37 in the second quarter, holding the Hoosiers to a four-yard gain and a 52-yard field goal attempt. Indiana missed the try and it swung the tide in favor of UW.

Grade: A

Special Teams

Using a combination of David Gilreath, Abbrederis and Kyle Zuleger, the Badgers are finding other weapons on the kickoff return game, especially since people are not obviously afraid to kick the ball to Gilreath.

Gilreath had a 49-yard return when the game was tied at 10, Abbrederis had a 52-yard kickoff return and Gilreath had a 22-yard punt return. What will go unnoticed was tight end Brian Wozniak's intelligence for fair catching a sky kick instead of trying to run the ball at the UW 39.

"It was a great game plan by Coach Rudolph," Bielema said. "If you try to put your finger on a couple things, what's making us play so well, I think special teams are a big thing right now."

Philip Welch scored 17 points in the game (11 extra points, two field goals), giving him 286 career points. He moved past Billy Marek and Todd Gregoire (278) and moved into third in UW history. His also tied Rich Thompson and Taylor Mehlhaff for second in Wisconsin annals with 50 career field goals.

Brad Nortman kept his uniform without a grass stain all game.

Grade: A


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