Grading out

The report card from Wisconsin's 38-27 win over North Carolina, along with each position's season-to-date GPA

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A huge improvement on the previous week, though Jim Sorgi still delivered the ball high a bit too often. The first interception was not the quarterback's fault but Sorgi severely overthrew a pass into the end zone on the second pick, a mistake that fortunately for the Badgers did not prove costly in the end.


Sorgi, though, proved his mettle, bouncing back from a horrendous game the week before and playing a solid football game. The 44-yard touchdown strike to Lee Evans was a thing of beauty. It should be noted that of eight incomplete throws Saturday, three were dropped.


UNC game grade: B


Season-to-date GPA: 2.50


Running backs


Dwayne Smith averaged nearly five yards per carry before departing with a strained groin. Booker Stanley filled in admirably, running for 119 yards and the first three touchdowns of his career. He ran strong and displayed good vision. Fullback Matt Bernstein was an absolutely dominating blocker and he even ripped off a 10-yard run. The backs were much improved in their blitz pickups and blocking generally. Both Smith and Stanley did miss some holes, though, and did not break many runs, a partial tribute to how well North Carolina's safeties—Dexter Reid and Mahlon Carey—played, compensating for the rest of the Tar Heel defense. On that note, Stanley held up remarkably well considering the caliber of hits he was handling play after play.


UNC game grade: AB


Season-to-date GPA: 3.13




Lee Evans set the school's all-time receiving record and was about five yards past Tar Heel corner Derrick Johnson when the 44-yard touchdown pass was delivered. North Carolina's Carey, though, out leapt Evans for an interception. Brandon Williams struggled in the first half with a pair of drops but rebounded with a big second half.


UNC game grade: B


Season-to-date GPA: 3.25


Offensive line


The line was assertive on and off the field Saturday, lobbying for more running plays and knocking the Tar Heels front seven off the ball all day long. Particularly in the second half, the line opened up sizeable running lanes for Booker Stanley, leading methodical drives that saw Wisconsin take control of the game. Sorgi had plenty of time to deliver the ball against the Tar Heels.


UNC game grade: AB


Season-to-date GPA: 3.13


Defensive line


Against a very respectable offensive line the Badgers front four raised havoc and came up with some huge plays. Anttaj Hawthorne seemingly could not be blocked and ends Jonathan Welsh and Darius Jones made a habit of reaching the backfield. Jones fourth quarter sack greatly increased the difficulty of Dan Orner's field goal attempt, and the 47-yard try went wide, helping the Badgers seal the victory. The linemen did a fantastic job containing Darian Durant, who only broke contain and made a big play with his feet once—when all of the linemen aside from Welsh, and most of the defense, flowed to the screen pass the Tar Heels were attempting to set up in the right flat. Durant scrambled left and picked up 25 yards. The line also shares responsibility for the gaping holes afforded to Jacques Lewis on inside draw-traps, but the line did an admirable job against a veteran UNC line that had yielded just one sack in two previous games.


UNC game grade: AB


Season-to-date GPA: 3.00




Alex Lewis was all over the field, finishing tied with Hawthorne with a team-high eight tackles. He did, however, drop a sure touchdown on an interception in the flats. The linebackers receive primary responsibility for reading and stuffing draws and traps, and Lewis' 56-yard jaunt is inexcusable. Considering how often the Badgers had linebackers in zone coverage matched up with receivers Saturday, the group did do a commendable job in coverage.


UNC game grade: BC


Season-to-date GPA: 2.63




Durant completed only half his passes and Jim Leonhard came up with a big interception. The Badgers secondary, for the most part, contained North Carolina's speedy receivers. The unit continues to show improvement in fits and spurts, but gave up far too many big plays down field due to coverage busts or simply being outplayed once the ball was in the air. The Big Ten is chocked full of high-caliber quarterbacks and receivers who will take advantage of this if it does not improve.


UNC game grade: BC


Season-to-date GPA: 2.38


Special teams


Two weeks ago the defense did not have an answer for Charlie Frye. Last week UNLV's blitz was too much for Wisconsin's offense to handle. This week only a sprained ankle could keep Michael Waddell from thrashing the Badgers special teams, and even then a clipping penalty saved the Badgers from yielding two kick returns for touchdown. More glaringly, Waddell and Mike Mason, whose touchdown return was called back, were not even contested on their way to the end zone. Six kick returns resulted in 246 Tar Heel yards.


R.J. Morse continues to play reasonably well, but his punting average was a bit too good—two out of four punts landed in the end zone, giving the coverage units no opportunity to down the ball deep. Of course, the way Wisconsin was covering kicks, perhaps Morse's touchbacks should be the plays of the game.


Jim Leonhard had just 11 yards on three punt returns, but his gutsy play, charging upfield to catch low-lining punts, secured solid field position and drew a kick-catching interference penalty that proved costly to North Carolina.


UNC game grade: D


Season-to-date GPA: 2.38

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