Offensive spark

Badgers use mix of rushing and receiving in 24-12 victory over Northwestern

In a game in which Anthony Davis and the Wisconsin running game were held relatively in check, John Stocco and the Badger passing attack once again stepped to the forefront to propel the Badgers to a 24-12 victory.

With the Northwestern defense looking for the run, Wisconsin went to the air early on.

"The plan was, we felt like we had to get involved in the passing game early, just because of where they were putting their safeties…that was some tough sledding," offensive coordinator Brian White said. "We had to be smart about moving in and out of things and not being predictable. We had to throw the ball and we went into the game with that mindset and I thought John handled himself pretty well."

Stocco completed 13 of 21 passes for 178 yards to go along with one touchdown and one interception. Even more important than his numbers was Stocco's poise under pressure.

"I thought John made some big throws, some key throws in crucial situations," head coach Barry Alvarez said.

The Richfield, Minn., native completed several passes on important third downs, including a four-yard touchdown pass to tight end Owen Daniels and a 21-yard pass to wide receiver Darrin Charles to keep a fourth-quarter drive alive.

"I felt like, throughout the year, I've made plays when I've had to, but now I'm starting to make more plays," Stocco said.

Charles and fellow wide receiver Brandon Williams each had big games, with 83 and 70 yards respectively.

"They're competing," Alvarez said of the pair. "The thing I like about those guys is they're team players. They don't worry about how many receptions they have. They're always out there and blocking and contributing in their way."

Charles made several long catches, with a 31-yard reception in the third quarter to go along with his 21-yard catch late in the game.

"Darrin's done a nice job," White said. "He's playing as well as he's ever played. He's got a great attitude, great mindset…making the plays that we need him to and making big plays."

Williams grabbed six catches, his second straight game with at least that many.

"It's great to get the ball back into my hands, see Darrin making a lot of catches, [Brandon] White, [Jonathan Orr]," Williams said. "It just feels good to see guys out there making plays, that's the big thing."

Davis gave Wisconsin yet another workman like performance, even with a lingering thigh injury. The Plainfield, N.J., native totaled 117 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries, and ran tough.

"I thought Anthony at about 80 percent was really good," Alvarez said. "I thought he ran through a lot of things. I thought he finished runs very well. I was impressed, he ran strong. That one touchdown when they had him at the three-yard line was impressive. Especially, again, he's got a bruised up thigh and he's not at a hundred percent."

Davis gained yardage when it counted, with 40 of his yards coming in the fourth quarter.

"Well, [Anthony]'s a quality person, a championship performer," White said. "Taking care of his end of the bargain is really important to him, and he knows how critical he is to our championship run and to be able to win the game that we're playing, which was obviously a very physical game out there."

While the offense turned in another solid performance, Alvarez knows it can always be better.

"Offensively we have to continue working and improving in the passing game," Alvarez said. "I think you always have to improve fundamentals."

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