Notebook: Stocco takes the reins

Life without Bernie, Daniels and Stellmacher; Special teams particularly special Saturday

MADISON — John Stocco had to deal with near constant blitzing, an Indiana defense that held tailback Brian Calhoun to his lowest complete-game production of the year and the absence of fullback Matt Bernstein and tight end Owen Daniels.

His response: 274 yards and three touchdowns passing.

In Wisconsin's 41-24 win over Indiana Saturday, Stocco's favorite targets were receivers Brandon Williams and Jonathan Orr. Orr finished with four receptions for 128 yards and a touchdown; Williams had six receptions for 113 yards and two touchdowns.

"He's made a lot of big plays for us," Stocco said on Williams. "He's just a great receiver and a lot of plays we knew we'd have him there, like what their defense was giving us. He made plays and we threw it to him."

Stocco did not rely on the star tailback as much as in the past. Calhoun, after all, had only 28 touches Saturday for 124 total yards. In the first four games this season, he averaged 156.5 rushing yards, 36 receiving yards and 35 touches, and he averaged 42.7 touches in the three previous games he had played start to finish.

"I thought Brian played probably as well as he has played all year, all things considered," co-offensive coordinator Brian White said. "He really finished a lot of runs and beat it and held straight in the protection game. I know statistically it wasn't his best football game but I was really proud of the way he played. He really made a difference in the game."

Indiana's defense held Calhoun to 101 rushing yards, a touchdown and 23 receiving yards on two receptions.

"Give Indiana credit," White said. "They went in with a game plan that they were going to fit people in spots to take away Brian and they did a nice job."

Wisconsin's signal caller, like the rest of the Badgers, did not have a flawless day and, along with his 13-of-24 performance, he threw two interceptions and was sacked three times. His first interception came early in the second quarter, one play after Badger corner Allen Langford picked off a pass from Indiana quarterback Blake Powers. But Indiana went three-and-out, punting about a minute later.

"I tried to throw it away, I just kind of zinged it 10 yards up, I guess, trying to get it away, but not away enough, I guess," Stocco said, regarding his first interception.

Stocco's other interception was late in the third quarter, when cornerback Tracy Porter caught a pass intended for Williams. But Indiana running back Yamar Washington fumbled two plays later, and free safety Roderick Rogers scooped up the loose ball for the Badgers.

"(He) put up big numbers but had a few lapses," Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez said on Stocco.

Life without Bernie

Fullback Matt Bernstein missed all of Wisconsin's win over Indiana, due to an undisclosed injury that Alvarez said would probably keep him "out for a few weeks."

Sophomore fullback Chris Pressley started in Bernstein's place and played in two-back formations. But according to Alvarez, Pressley hurt his ankle in the first half. Redshirt freshman fullback Bill Rentmeester stepped in midway through the third quarter and played the rest of the game.

"I thought Billy Rentmeester played very, very well and Chris Pressley played well and hopefully he'll be fine," White said. "You play with the guys that are out there and the expectation level is that whoever's out there playing is going to play well and perform."

Rentmeester, who said he was pretty sure he would play Saturday, blocked for Calhoun in the third and fourth quarters.

"We were running right up the middle so I had the linebackers all the time and so it's just the isos," Rentmeester said. "Block the linebacker, free up the running back and do whatever you want."

Daniels injured early

UW tight end Owen Daniels injured his left ankle on the first play of the game, limped off the field and did not return. After receiving medical attention on the sideline, Daniels donned a boot on his left foot.

With Daniels out of the lineup, senior Jason Pociask became the primary tight end, with senior Joel Nellis filling in on two tight end formations. Pociask caught one pass for 10 yards.

Stellmacher misses game

Junior Joe Stellmacher, who had started the three previous games at strong safety, suited up but did not play Saturday. Stellmacher aggravated a shoulder "stinger" in UW's win over Michigan last week and left that game in the second quarter.

In his absence, junior Johnny White played strong safety. The Badgers also frequently went with a one safety look, with free safety Roderick Rogers playing alongside three or four cornerbacks.

Special teams particularly special Saturday

In addition to his two receiving touchdowns, punt and kick returner Brandon Williams returned a kickoff for 21 yards and four punts for 86 yards, including a punt return for a touchdown late in the first quarter.

Williams' return, a 63-yard scamper down the right sideline, was made possible in part due to the huge lane opened by the blocking of Wisconsin's punt return unit.

"When it was kicked, the dude (IU junior punter Tyson Beattie) was kicking the ball kind of high," Williams said. "I kept looking at the return and then looking at the ball and then looking back down and I was like, ‘all right, once I catch it, it's the right return.' Then I seen Zach Hampton and I followed him up in the hole. Levonne (Rowan), Jack (Ikegwuonu) and Jarvis (Minton) got their blocks on the outside and then Ben Strickland finished off the punter and it was all she wrote after that."

"I was basically doing my assignment, making a block on the edge for Brandon," Hampton said. Hampton returned one kick for 12 yards late in the second quarter. "I know we were pretty excited about that return because we kind of throw the punt coverage off with going up the middle and returning it the first two times and we went outside for a sideline return and going up there and making my block and let Brandon hit the seam."

The recognition for that, Hampton said, was great for a unit that doesn't usually heap on the accolades.

"It's great and Brandon appreciates it 100 percent," Hampton said. "He lets us know. If he doesn't know what happened in a game, after, if he watches it on film, he loves that. . . I felt great after that block because I knew it sprung the touchdown."

Punter Ken DeBauche and kicker Taylor Mehlhaff also had solid outings Saturday. DeBauche averaged 46 yards on six punts, including a 52-yard punt. He pinned IU inside the 20 three times. Mehlhaff contributed two field goals and five extra points and averaged 59 yards per kickoff on eight kickoffs, three of which were touchbacks.

"The kicking game helped us again," Alvarez said. "A lot of times they started back inside their 10-yard line. That's a long way to go."

Jumbo touchdown

With first-and-goal from the IU 1 with less than one minute to play in the first half, the Badgers lined up in a jumbo package with two running backs and three tight ends. However, one player who checked in at tight end was reserve offensive lineman Marcus Coleman, who lined up to the left of left tackle Joe Thomas.

UW tailback Brian Calhoun ran to that side and was not touched on the way to the end zone, his 10th touchdown of the season.

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