Notes: Blowout Yields Positives

Wisconsin's blowout victory in the season opener allowed the Badgers to make changes on the offensive line, feature some true freshman and get a promising quarterback his first repetitions in the offense.

MADISON - With the offensive line still unsettled for No.23 Wisconsin, the Badgers used their 45-0 victory over Massachusetts to shuffle their line around.

Zac Matthias and Kyle Costigan rotated at right guard, switching off every other series. Dallas Lewallen played the majority of the game at center after received the start at center, but was pulled in favor of Dan Voltz after two quarterback center fumble exchanges.

"Huge negative," said Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen. "I haven't had a ball snap bobbled in practice for a long time. There was two of them today, and they have to go away. We'll continue to evaluate that and look at it, but ball's on the ground twice. It didn't cost us today, but if it continues, it will cost us a football game eventually if we don't get it fixed."

Lewallen had two bad snaps that quarterback Joel Stave couldn't handle in the first and third quarter. After the second fumble on the next offensive series Andersen subbed Voltz in for Lewallen at center. Lewallen was shifted to left guard and Ryan Groy shifted to left tackle.

With Lewallen getting shifted, Voltz – a former four-star recruit - was able to make his Badgers debut and came away pleased with how he played.

"I thought I played well for the first game of my career," Voltz said. "It's good to get that moment over with and it was a lot of fun and hopefully there's a lot more moments down the road."

Even though there were issues with the snaps, Andersen still came away impressed with how his unit played, especially in run blocking to get Corey Clement, Melvin Gordon and James White each over 100 yards.

"I thought the offensive line was definitely worth noting in the protections for the run," Andersen said.

"I thought we played well today we had the power game was working great," Voltz added. "We had a couple of good zone runs (and) the pass protection was phenomenal. Obviously we still have some stuff to work on but I thought we came out and played solid for our first game."

The Badgers' offensive line dominated in the run game and paved way for the tailbacks to rush for 387 yards against UMass.

"We take a lot of pride in that," said Groy. "Obviously our No. 1 goal is to run the ball, being a Wisconsin offensive line. Whether it's three backs with 100 (yards) or one back with 300, we're happy either way."

Special Freshman Debut

Sojourn Shelton was one of four true freshmen to see action for the Badgers, and it's safe to say he'll remember his first career start. Shelton recorded his first career interception when a leaping third-quarter grab off Minutemen quarterback Mike Wegzyn.

After missing the opportunity for interceptions in the spring game and during fall practices, Shelton was hungry to make a play for the defense.

"I thought earlier in the game I had an opportunity to get one, so I was holding that against myself," Shelton said. "I was like, ‘I want to get one this game.' In my first high school varsity game I had an interception and that was my goal coming into this game to intercept a pass … I just wanted to get it."

It took the Badgers until week six last season to intercept their first pass and while Shelton was able to get his hands on the football, he gives credit to the front seven for pressuring the passing game.

"I think it sets the foundation for our defense and I think people will see that our secondary will step up and play well," Shelton said. "The front seven played amazing and they're the ones who gave us those looks for us." Becoming the first true freshman to start a season opener since Travis Frederick in 2009 and the first true freshman cornerback to see playing time in his first season since Scott Starks in 2001, Shelton admitted he was a little nervous before the game. Andersen couldn't tell.

"Sojourn, I thought, handled it as a starter," Andersen said. "Those kids on the outside for UMass, I thought, ran pretty good. They challenged them with a lot of different coverages and some different things he was doing. He was not starry eyed. He was ready to go from the first snap. Credit goes to Sojourn and coach (Ben) Strickland for handling themselves the way they did and got him ready to go."

Although Shelton had a good first game, he knows there are still plenty of things for him to work on.

"I just want to get strong, reading a lot more keys, be better on film and just know what is coming my way," Shelton said. "I just need to get stronger, moving forward, one game at a time. When we play Arizona State and teams in the Big Ten, players will get a lot bigger and more physical and I just want to continue to build my game. I know I can, the strength coaches here are amazing."

Not only did Shelton have family members in attendance, he had a big group of supporters watching him back home.

"My father and grandpa came up for the game and my mom threw a watch party at home," Shelton said. "Seeing my friends text me and everything a lot of people were watching so I was pretty excited and amped up." Corey Clement also made his debut midway through the third quarter and carried the ball a team-high 16 times for 101 yards and a touchdown. Leon Jacobs and Jakarrie Washington also played but mostly on special teams. Jacobs recorded one tackle on special teams and also saw some time at outside linebacker in the fourth quarter.

Phillips Gives Houston his Debut

Redshirt freshman quarterback Bart Houston saw his first action midway through the fourth quarter replacing Stave as the starter. Houston went 1-for-1 for eight yards, completing a pass to Sam Arneson, but got the opportunity to play when sixth-year senior Curt Phillips passed on his opportunity to play to the rookie.

"We were going to put Curt in the game but Curt came up to me and says, ‘Coach, let Bart go in. He needs the snap and repetitions," Andersen said. "What else are to say as a coach besides he's a tremendous kid and unselfish and excited to be a part of this team?"

Andersen admitted that putting in Houston didn't cross his mind until Phillips suggested it.

"That was all Curt and that's a pretty powerful thing for me anyway," said Andersen. "I told the team right away after the game and I think it effected the team in a very positive way."

Final Note

The Badgers boasted three 100-yard rushers and a 100-yard receiver in the same game for the first time in UW annals. The last Wisconsin had two 100-yard rushers and a 100-yard receiver was Sept. 25, 2010 vs. Austin Peay. White ran for 145 yards, John Clay ran for 118 and Lance Kendricks had 103 receiving yards in a 70-3 victory.

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