A play that will forever be attached to his name, Jazz Peavy has said repeatedly he has moved on from last year’s Northwestern fiasco, a catch that has made him a better receiver and a stronger person. That doesn’t mean the junior didn’t want to go out and prove something.
“It was in the back of my mind, of course,” Peavy said. “That was personal to me, just make sure I’m doing everything I possibly can this year I execute and win this game.”
His performance helped guarantee that for No.8 Wisconsin, and get a slice of revenge in the process.
Impacting in the game three ways, the junior gained 144 all-purpose yards (46 rushing. 73 receiving, 25 punt return) and provided a spark to the offense in Wisconsin’s 21-7 win at Northwestern, its first win at Ryan Field since 1999.
“Jazz is capable of that,” head coach Paul Chryst said. “He just needs to keep maximizing opportunities, and I thought that, for the most part, he did that.”
It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why Peavy wanted to win this game so bad.
“I got to answer that?” Peavy exclaimed when asked that very question, who admitted last year’s performance was in the back of his mind.
“Because I feel like we deserved to win,” he continued. “We deserve to win out. We’re a great team, and we know we should be winning these games, so I mean when we come in and play anybody we always got the mindset that we’re going to win this game, so it’s just one of those things.”
Last year 13-7 loss to Northwestern didn’t sit well for Peavy. Originally given a 1-yard touchdown catch that put Wisconsin on the precipice of taking a one-point lead over the Wildcats with 30 seconds left, Peavy was stunned when officials ruled he did not maintain control all the way through the process of the catch.
Northwestern won by six, and the wide receiver himself went to Twitter to show his displeasure.
He was in much better spirits this time. Three of his team-high four receptions were on drives that ended in points for the Badgers, with three of those grabs also moving the chains for first downs.
Early in the second quarter in a scoreless game, he lined up in the slot to the right out of 11 personnel (three wide receiver set) on third-and-11. Peavy pushed upfield, jumped and hauled in a Bart Houston dart in tight man coverage for a 32-yard completion.
“I believe I beat him off the line and Bart threw a great ball,” Peavy said. “I just had to adjust to it and climb up and grab it.”
That offensive series, UW’s fourth, ended with a three-point lead when kicker Andrew Endicott converted a 40-yard field goal with 11:11 left in that frame.
On their next offensive series in that quarter, redshirt freshman Alex Hornibrook found Peavy for a quick 11-yard gain and a first-down to open up the Northwestern defense. Four plays later, his biggest play of the game would lead to the team’s first touchdown.
Out of 21 (two running backs, one tight end) personnel, fullback Alec Ingold went in motion to the right before the snap with Peavy lined up in the slot on that side. Hornibrook faked the handoff to running back Bradrick Shaw with center Michael Deiter pulling to the right.
Peavy swung around to receive the handoff on an end around to the left - not the jet sweep that’s become a feature of Wisconsin’s offense.
“We just have a little bit more time to read it, just because you’re making that type of loop so you can see it all playing out in front of you,” Peavy said about the differences between the two types of runs. “So it’s a lot easier to make adjustments off of it.”
The play call caught senior defensive lineman C.J. Rollins out of position in not containing the edge. The receiver easily sprinted by the 305-pounder with left tackle Ryan Ramczyk barreling down the field and getting a piece of safety Godwin Igwebuike.
Peavy cut to the right and out ran the other Northwestern defenders for a 46-yard touchdown --the first rushing score of his career.
“A lot of green grass, guys blocking up field and guys pursuing this way,” Peavy described when asked what he saw on that explosive play. “It was cutting back at the right time and using some speed to get into the end zone.”
Peavy could have had another big play but missed reeling in a deep pass from Hornibrook in the third quarter, but he made up for it in yet another phase of the game. Catching a punt at the UW 44, he turned up field and gained 24 yards up to the NU 24. The great field possession would lead to Wisconsin’s third score of the game, an Endicott 28-yard field goal.
After nose tackle Conor Sheehy forced a Clayton Thorson fumble that was recovered and returned to the NU 44, the offense again took shape with Peavy’s help. With Houston back in at quarterback, Peavy’s 19-yard catch set up with Wisconsin only red-zone touchdown in three trips, a Corey Clement two-yard rushing touchdown.
“Jazz was spectacular,” Clement said. “I would call it a ‘quiet’ spectacular. Jazz is really patient when it comes to getting his number called … He felt as if people were sleeping on him a bit, so I really understand the type of message he’s putting out there on each of his runs. He’s not very vocal, but when he plays, you hear his energy.”
Now tied for the team lead in receptions (31) and outright in receiving yards (481), Peavy’s production have been crucial for an offense still creating an identity offensively, and his play can finally bury the disappointment of 2015.
“It signifies another win,” Peavy said, when asked what the win means moving forward. “It signifies us continuing to win, continuing to show that we’re a dominant team in this conference. Just feel like it’s another confidence thing -- we just keep riding the train.