Notes: Straus Makes Most of Debut

Getting his first career start in the place of injured fullback Derek Watt, redshirt sophomore Derek Straus didn't wait long to make an impact, scoring his first career touchdown on Wisconsin's first drive and springing several others in a 48-0 rout of Tennessee Tech.

MADISON - With starting fullback Derek Watt out with a knee injury suffered in the opener, Derek Straus earned his first career start. He didn't disappoint.

Growing up roughly 15 minutes away from Camp Randall, Straus showed no nerves on an impressive opening drive for the Badgers - catching two passes in the flats for six yards and a touchdown.

"It was real exciting catching the touchdown and it got my nerves calmed down a little bit," said Straus, who finished with three catches for 10 yards and that three-yard touchdown in No.21 Wisconsin's 48-0 victory over Tennessee Tech. "It helped me settle into the game a little more."

Not only did Straus contribute catching the football, the redshirt sophomore was active in the blocking game, playing a big part in the Badgers rushing for 387 yards. On the third drive of the game, Straus' block was key in springing Melvin Gordon for a 65-yard run, leading to a Wisconsin touchdown on the next play. Straus also sprung Corey Clement for a 75-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

"On Corey Clement run it was just a power play outside and they were a man short on the edge," said Straus. "I just got around and got up to the safety and we had a nice little edge to spring it loose. On Melvin's run it was the same thing, we got the edge for him and he made it right."

"I'm proud of him because he stepped up and he had to carry the load," Gordon added. "Coach was on him all week and he had him doing extra blocking this and that and I think Straus came out and proved himself today and that he can step into the role."

Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen was impressed with the way Straus played and came out in place of Watt.

"What stood out, I guess is kind of what didn't stand out," Andersen said. "He did a good job. He obviously was doing his job in the run game and they were very aggressive with the way they were attacking us early in the run game. But I thought he was solid and it was a good opportunity for him and it's another example of a young man who prepared himself through out camp and worked hard to get in the moment and took advantage of it."

A two-time state champion in football for Waunakee, Straus accumulated 1,676 total yards and 25 touchdowns in his career and has spent the last two seasons transitioning to fullback. While Straus was happy with his play, he knows that he can improve with the level of competition taking a step up.

"I thought I did all right there's plays I want back like every player but I'll make the corrections and I'll be ready next week," Straus said.

It is still unclear whether Watt will play against Arizona State but Straus will be ready either way for the Sun Devils.

"I'm just going to come into this week and act like I'm going to play and take it a day at a time," Straus said.

Creating Turnovers

After registering just 15 turnovers a season ago, Wisconsin's defense created two more turnovers against Tennessee Tech, doubling their turnover total for the season.

On the first offensive play of the game, sophomore cornerback Darius Hillary forced a fumble, which fell in the lap of Dezmen Southward. Redshirt freshman Leo Musso followed up in the fourth quarter by making a leaping interception for the first of his career.

"Coach (Andersen) is always stressing to start fast as a defense and to go out and set the tone," Hillary said. "I came up off the edge, and I saw that the running back had the ball a little loose. I put my head on the ball and thankfully I was able to pop it out."

With UW having a young secondary, it's been important that the Badgers have created four turnovers on defense, but they're aware they need to keep working.

"We feel pretty good right now but the thing is we never want to be satisfied and were going to keep on working," Hillary said. "We're going to celebrate this win but we also know we have to know were going to start to face some different competition in the upcoming weeks."

Special Teams Seek Consistency

One of the lone bright spots for Tennessee Tech was their punter Chad Zinchini, who averaged 50 yards on his nine punts, including a long of 70 yards and a pair inside the 20.

"Actually I feel like it made a little easier because I knew I had room," said Kenzel Doe of Zinchini's strong leg. "Watching film you see other team's punt returners deep and I was wondering why are they so deep. When I went out there I'm like ‘I see why.'"

Andersen is still concerned with how his special teams are performing, especially considering Kyle French missed an extra point and Jack Russell missed a short field goal, but was pleased with how the punt return unit improved from week one.

"I give it all to the punt return team because they were holding their blocks and it made it easier for me to see where I'm going," Doe said. "We as a group did a good job."

Doe was able to return four punts for 50 yards and caught two passes for 19 yards.

Extra Points

James White entered today's game as the NCAA's active leader in career rushing touchdowns. He added to that total with a 2-yard run in the third quarter. He now has 34 career rushing TDs and the Badgers are 18-1 when White scores at least one touchdown.

• With a career-high eight receptions, Abbrederis moved into fifth place on UW's career receptions list (134), passing Chris Chambers and Al Toon.

• UW allowed just 113 total yards on defense, equaling the ninth-lowest total in school history and the Badgers' best effort since giving up 99 to Northern Illinois (1/20/2007).

• The Badgers also surrendered just six total first downs. The school record is five allowed against Temple on Sept. 10, 2005.

• UW has had at least two 100-yard rushers in six of the last 10 games.


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