Pointed in the Right Direction

Whether it's the power formation or the new-look 'barge' formation, tailbacks James White and Montee Ball got Wisconsin running in the right direction in a 38-13 victory over Minnesota Saturday.

MADISON - It would have been easy for James White to shut down or lose motivation, especially how the season began for him. Held under 50 yards in five of Wisconsin's first six games, the only time White was able to be the featured player was after Montee Ball spent three quarters on the bench with a concussion against UTEP.

But instead of pouting, White was able to stay patient because he knew he would eventually be called upon. Just like it did against UTEP, White responded when his number was called against Minnesota.

With Montee Ball struggling in the first half, White jumpstarted the Wisconsin offense in rushing for 175 yards and three touchdowns on 15 carries in a 38-13 victory over the Gophers at Camp Randall Stadium Saturday.

"He had the high-energy play of the game, he brought the spark," Ball said about White, who 98 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. "I didn't bring the spark so he made sure to bring the spark early, which we need."

White's second and third touchdown runs were samples of his speed – rushing 34 yards around the left edge to increase the score to 14-6 right before halftime while his 48-yard scamper in the third quarter went by so quick that no defense was able to touch him.

It was his first touchdown, however, that showcased his athleticism, as Wisconsin revealed a new wrinkle to its suddenly growing playbook. With White lined up at quarterback with seven offensive linemen in front of him, Wisconsin debuted its version of the wildcat offense called ‘the barge.'

"The barge is a very big piece of people moving down the field together in unison," Bielema said. "I didn't come up with that's all Coach Canada. I know the kids really enjoy it. Everybody gets a kick out of it when we play it in practice.

"It was fun to see that come through it's a difficult formation to line up to. It had a little success."

Debuted on Wisconsin's second series, it only took White two carries to punch the football into the end zone from the Gophers 22-yard line to give the Badgers the first strike of the game. That was the only series that Wisconsin used the formation that White use to run at high school at St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

"It's another way to get me the football make most of the opportunity," White said "They always tell me to be ready for that formation because you never know when they are going to break it out. You could tell the defense was very confused the first time they saw it. It's a way to keep the defense off balanced. It's also an easy way to pick up a couple of yards and it's a lot of fun."

Minnesota coach Jerry Kill did not disagree: "When you haven't seen it on film or anything like that and they put five guys on one side and three on the other, that's a good move on their part."

Ball is a huge fan of the formation because he knows it's a way to help defenses stay honest and help him offensively.

"It's a great scheme that coach Canada put together," said Ball. "Just getting James in open space is great."

Although he finishing with 166 yards and scored two touchdowns for the fourth straight game, Ball is aware that he needs to start the game faster. After finishing with only 35 yards on 10 carries in the first half, Ball knows that due to his slow start the only people to blame is himself.

"The holes were there, I just wasn't as crisp at the beginning of the game," Ball said. "I talked to coach Hammock about it. I need to start fast like I did against Purdue last week."

When Ball did finally get into an offensive rhythm, he and White formed a dangerous combination in the second half.

"The line was blocking, the tight ends were blocking (and) that made it easy for us," White said about him and Ball's performance. "All we had to do was make the proper reads and we were getting at least 20 yards."

Added Ball: "We both bring something different to the table. Obviously he brings a lot faster tempo, a lot more crisp cuts and all that stuff, agility and speed. I bring the power as well, which is a lot for defenses to prepare for."

Ball and White have picked their games up over the past three games, but Bielema was quick to remind onlookers that their success is because of the improved play of the Badgers' offensive line.

"The reason Montee and James are having success there doing a lot of great things individually but the people in front of them are playing well," Bielema said.


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