Morgantown, W. Va.--It is only fitting that with all the talk of airing it out and all the talk that, sans Brooks Bollinger, that the Badgers quarterback position would now be a stationary one, that when Wisconsin called pass on their first offensive play this season, Sorgi tucked it and ran for five yards. He ran nine times Saturday for 47 yards total.
Sorgi, who has been known for being a bombs away type of quarterback, did not connect on his first deep attempts, but showed good touch on short routes and threw some very pretty passes on intermediate routes. The only truly bad throw came on an out pattern intended for Owen Daniels that was overthrown. Sorgi proved astute at finding receivers throughout the game, finishing with 215 yards throwing on 20 of 34 passing.
Sorgi did look a little anxious in the pocket at times, especially early in the game. The offensive line did an admirable job against an unconventional front that blitzed and stunted quite a bit, but Sorgi's internal clock was a little quick at times, causing him to step up early a few times. Also on the negative side, there were two fumbled snaps, though each were recovered by Wisconsin.
All-and-all, though, Sorgi did a remarkably good job. He was crisp on his passes, displaying good arm strength. He was very nimble in the pocket and he made some very good decisions to throw the ball away when under duress.
Most importantly, when the game was on the line, Sorgi stepped up and made a tremendous play. His third-and-12 throw to finally get the Badgers into the end zone was the type of play a team can rally around and Wisconsin did. With two blitzing linebackers bearing down, Sorgi stepped up in the pocket and, with Adam Lehnortt clinging to his legs, flung a very nice pass to Lee Evans, who corralled it, broke two tackles and scored.
After the score the Badgers defense was dominating and the running game took over down the stretch. Most importantly, the Badgers won. No more talk of never winning as a starter for Jim Sorgi. The record that matters is 1-0.
Lee Evans's return
Evans's increased strength was a talk of fall camp, and he put that on display in the fourth quarter Saturday, fending off cornerback Lance Frazier to make the clutch 20-yard touchdown catch, then breaking free of Frazier and breaking the tackle of free safety Anthony Mims on his way to the end zone.
Evans caught the Badgers first pass completion of season, taking a screen pass for eight yards. Evans finished with seven catches for 70 yards and the one touchdown.
It was questionable whether the Badgers would use the myriad formations on display this fall. They brought the stops against West Virginia. Wisconsin played with a variety of formations and personnel packages. If a base set can be established, it included receiver Lee Evans and Brandon Williams, tight end Tony Paciotti, fullback Matt Bernstein and running back Anthony Davis.
The Badgers, though, frequently inserted Owen Daniels as a two-point tight end and brought in either Jonathan Orr or Darrin Charles as a third receiver. Reserve tight end Jason Pociask saw action in two-tight end sets as an in-line end and as an H-back. Daniels also played an H-back or wing position at times and Brandon Williams motioned to a wing position on some occasions.
Wisconsin was not content with those adjustments, though. The team also came out frequently in a two-half back set that employed three or two receivers. They lined up four-wide at times and put the advertised three-receiver near-slot bunch on display a few times. With the game on the line, they employed a one wide receiver set with Paciotti and offensive tackle Joe Thomas playing end. At the goal line, the receiver left in exchange for Pociask, who played a wing in the resulting jumbo package.
The Badgers obviously have a multi-talented offense. Saturday, the team moved the ball well, but didn't put it together until the fourth quarter. Once the team gets completely acclimated with itself, this offense should be as potent as any in the NFL.