Making it Look Easy

Not looking ahead to next week's tough test at Arizona State, No.21 Wisconsin used a dominant performance on both sides of the football to shutdown Tennessee Tech, 48-0, at Camp Randall Stadium.

MADISON - Opening the season against a pair of teams that went a combined 4-19 last season, the University of Wisconsin football won't truly find out how good they can be in 2013 until after playing at Arizona State next weekend in what promises to be a true mental and physical test.

But with the offense playing a near complete game and the defense doing something it hasn't done in 55 years, Wisconsin will head into the desert with plenty of momentum and positives.

"We're going on with a lot of confidence to that Arizona State game," said tailback Melvin Gordon, who helped No.21 Wisconsin roll up 606 yards of offense while holding Tennessee Tech off the scoreboard in a 48-0 blowout at Camp Randall Stadium Saturday.

"We've played well as a group. Obviously there's room for improvement, but we're going to take that into the Arizona State game."

No matter the competition level, or lack thereof, in the season's first two weeks, the numbers the Badgers (2-0) are putting up deserve mentioning.

After rushing for 393 yards and four touchdowns in the opener, Wisconsin rushed for 387 yards and four more scores against the Golden Eagles of the FCS, as the Badgers had a trio of tailbacks - Corey Clement (149 yards, two touchdowns), Gordon (140, one) and James White (109, one) – each go over 100 yards for the third time in the last four games.

"They've played very well for two games," said Gary Andersen, who became the third Wisconsin coach in the modern era (since 1946) to begin his career 2-0. "They all have vision. They are different. They complement each other. I am just proud of the way they've handled it."

Defensively the Badgers, who senior linebacker Chris Borland admitted was still playing pretty vanilla with their blitz packages and coverage schemes, held the Golden Eagles to 113 total yards and 2.3 yards per play for a second consecutive shutout.

The back-to-back goose eggs were the first for a Wisconsin team since the Badgers won 20-0 at Miami (FL) and 50-0 in their home opener at Marquette in 1958, five years before Andersen was born.

"It looks nice," said Borland of the shutouts. "We've excited about it, but I feel like it's what we've should have done. These first two opponents, I think we all expected to shut them out and it's nice to get that done."

But while Wisconsin lit up the scoreboard, once again using the big play to its advantage, one drive showcased the potential the Badgers possess on offense, even if the level of competition doesn't compare to some of the challenges quickly coming on the horizon.

Backed up to his six-yard line with 1:49 on the clock, Stave coolly and calmly executed the two-minute offense to perfection, completing all 10 of his pass attempts for 87 of the drive's 94 yards, including Brian Wozniak's first career touchdown pass on a six-yard throw with 19 seconds left to make the score 28-0 at halftime.

Practicing the two-minute drill throughout fall camp and returning this week in game preparation, the work appeared to pay off.

"It was really good to see it get clicking in a game like that," said Stave, who had a 196.7 pass efficiency rating in the first half. "We just have to be smart of where we are going with the ball, make quick decisions. In two-minute drill you can't take a sack, so we did a great job protecting and getting the ball out quickly."

After a week where Stave's direction made Wisconsin's offense flutter in the first 30 minutes, the sophomore quarterback was primarily on his game, registering a career-high 18 completions in the first half to seven different receivers and a career-high three touchdown passes.

"That was a big step for our offense for the confidence of the kids in the huddle, for the quarterback, for the coordinator, for myself," said Andersen. "To go down and execute that is great to see. A lot of people involved in that two-minute drill, too, which was nice. There wasn't panic on the sideline."

Excluding his first half against UMass and his second half Saturday, Stave is 23-for-26 for 321 yards, five touchdowns and one interception, numbers in the passing game that Andersen said can improve.

"Any young player you are going to live with ups and downs, and it's just magnified at the quarterback position," said Andersen. "Joel's coming around. There were times when the leadership appeared to be better today than it was throughout camp and the last game. I was happy to see that."

The big play has been Wisconsin's friend on the young season. Through two games, Wisconsin has 14 plays from scrimmage that gained at least 20 yards, including four scoring plays in the opener and one Saturday that gained at least 50 yards.

For comparison, it took UW seven games last season to register four scoring plays of 50-plus yards. But for an offense that wanting to put a variety of looks and nuisances on tape, a little variety never hurts.

Wisconsin scored touchdowns on four of its seven drives in the first half, showing better flow and consistency than the first 30 minutes in the season opener. And for good measure, Wisconsin also showed it can grind, opening the second half with a 76-yard, 12-play drive that burned 5:43 off the clock before James White's two-yard run.

"That's how you want to play, how you expect to play," said Stave.

One week after registering a shutout in the season opener against a pro-style attack, Wisconsin's defense was thought to be challenged by the spread-offense attack of Tennessee Tech. Not hardly, as the Golden Eagles (1-1) managed only two plays in Wisconsin territory and none past the 46-yard line.

"We want to be great, defensively sound," said sophomore Darius Hillary, who forced a fumble on the first play from scrimmage to help set up the scoring barrage. "(We want) to be sound with all our assignments."

Wisconsin has yet to trail, or really put pushed, in its first two weeks of the season, slightly unnerving considering the Badgers face its first real test next week at Arizona State, a 55-0 winner over FCS Sacramento State in its season opener Thursday.

Would Andersen have liked to be pushed in the season's first two weeks? Nah.

"I'd prefer to win going away every single time and deal with adversity when it comes our way," he said. "We talk about adversity all the time. It's something we believe we're prepared for."

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