UW must slow run-and-shoot

Hawaii's prolific offense latest challenge for defense that has struggled

HONOLULU — Wisconsin has faced its fair share of pass-happy spread-style offenses. The University of Hawaii's run-and-shoot is a different sort of animal, however.

UW defensive backs coach Ron Lee said that the Warriors passing game is quite similar to the Bowling Green and Northwestern offenses the Badgers faced earlier this season. Hawaii, Lee said, employs "the same type of offensive principles involved in their passing game."

However, Northwestern's spread is as much about setting up the run as the pass.

For the Warriors, on the other hand, running the ball is more novel. With quarterback Colt Brennan directing coach June Jones' wide-open approach, Hawaii averages 48.5 pass attempts per game, compared to just 22.3 rushes.

"It's fun to play back there when teams are throwing at you," safety Joe Stellmacher said. "You have many opportunities to make plays and that's what you want as a D back. You want a chance to make some plays. It's going to be fun."

When the Warriors do choose to run the ball, they are very effective. Primary running back Nate Ilaoa averages 6.7 yards per carry and has 424 rushing yards this season.

"They do a good job of keeping you off balance with the running game," defensive coordinator Bret Bielema said.

Bielema drew a comparison to Purdue's offense last season. "Except that they've got a quarterback that maybe is a little bit more athletic than (Kyle) Orton," he said.

Brennan is yet another multi-faceted quarterback; the type that has plagued the Badgers all season. He has completed 292 of 425 passes (68.7 percent) for 3,572 yards, 27 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

"I think that their quarterback does a good job of running the offense," Lee said. "He's dangerous when he starts to scramble and their receivers do a very good job of adjusting to him. We just have to stay on our man once he breaks contain…

"He will scramble to throw first but he's not afraid to pull it down and run with it."

Jones' run-and-shoot is versatile, but it will not throw the potpourri of formations on the field of a Northwestern, for instance.

"We've played a lot of offenses that play a lot of 10 personnel but they also threw in a bunch of other personnel groupings," Bielema said. "(Hawaii is) going to line up with four wide receivers on the field and a running back and they are going to go at it.

Hawaii will pair its receivers to either side of the formation or will line up with trips to one side.

"(They) motion around a little bit, but they are pretty set in what they want to do and they try to do it every play," Bielema said.

Hawaii's propensity for passing is sure to challenge Wisconsin. The Badgers lost one of their best pass rushers when defensive end Matt Shaughnessy went down with a season-ending knee injury against Iowa. And the secondary will be tested time and time again.

Wisconsin heads into Friday's game here ranked No. 102 in the nation defensively, allowing 431.3 yards per game. Both their rush defense (No. 95 nationally) and pass defense (88) have been lacking.

Against Northwestern, UW was blistered for 674 yards in a 51-48 loss. The Badgers gave up 35 points in the first half to Bowling Green, but held the Falcons to seven after halftime.

"What you do is you go back and you watch those games where you may have a problem, against a Northwestern or against a Bowling Green, and you make sure that you rep those plays because (the Warriors) are watching the same plays," Lee said. "And some of their plays are very similar to the two previous teams.

"We have to make sure we clean those up and make sure we execute the defense."

Badger Nation Top Stories