Guest Editorial: Mitch's Musings

The favorite part of Friday night's game for Mitch Nelles was undoubtedly House of Pain's "Jump Around," which Nelles is known to sing to the entire press box at Camp Randall. The former State Journal/Badger Herald reporter and Milwaukee Bucks mascot checks in with his thoughts from the FSU game. Flame at will...

"Word to your Moms, I came to drop bombs..."

Is there any doubt at all who my new favorite Badger is? From Tony, Wisconsin, 5-foot nothing (5-8), 100+ pounds nothing (178) starting strong safety, #18, sophomore Jim Leonhard. Dude makes an interception to start off the game, a huge one later that he literally wrestled away from the receiver, and breaks up the final gasp pass attempt by Fresno State. He was all over the field!

Any my second favorite new Badger? No doubt, fullback Matt Bernstein. A freshman from Scahsdale, New Yahk…have you ever seen anyone more excited about playing? He was jumping up and down like a little leaguer out there (Props to my home state team from Worcester - take it all the way, boyz!)

And I gotta give much love to the crowd at Camp Randall. There is nothing like sitting in the press box with a bunch of old fogies and seeing them gasp in fear as the entire press box shakes during the playing of House of Pain's "Jump Around." There are many strong traditions in college football, like the running of the buffalo in Colorado, the "Go Blue" chants in Ann Arbor and the Gator clap in Florida. But the break in-between the third and fourth quarters at Camp Randall is quickly rising the ranks. Even Barry Alvarez gave props to the crowd. Last year, the Fresno State coaches commented on how tame the crowd was in Madison. But Friday, the Badger Nation proved it's back in full effect.

But we can't overlook the dominance of Anthony Davis. Don't look now, but if he stays healthy and plays all four years, he has a chance at Ron Dayne's NCAA record for rushing yards. He ran for 1,466 yards last year, about 550 less than Dayne ran his freshman year. But Dayne then ran for an average of 1,605 yards his final three years. Granted, Davis has to average about 1,820 these next three years, but after seeing him run for 184 Friday with ease, he has a shot. Oh yeah, he also has 14 total games to play this year, as opposed to the normal 12. Just something to keep in mind...

There were many positives, but also quite a few negatives, with the win over the Bulldogs. Yes, the Badgers won the turnover battle, 4-2, but both losses were fumbles, one by Davis and one by backup running back Jerone Pettus, in Wisconsin's own territory. At least when FSU turned the ball over, they made UW work by turning it over in Badger territory.

The Bulldogs scored two touchdowns directly off the turnovers, not a good stat. But when you are playing with a smaller field, it's not really the defense's fault. Guys just can't put the ball on the carpet.

Speaking of carpets...I still can't believe the Badgers play on one. Walking across it during the fifth quarter, I couldn't help but think how fake it looked and felt. Is real grass really that much more expensive and undesirable?

Hey UW fans, remember Kevin Stemke and Vitaly Pisetsky? Kinda took the whole guessing game out of the kicking equation, didn't it? Have you ever seen a worse punt than that first fake FG/pooch punt by Scott Campbell. No offense, but I'm pretty sure I could have done that.

The final few minutes were way too nerve-wracking. Used to be that we knew Vitaly would make that field goal to win the game, no problem. Now it seems every attempt is an adventure. But props to Mike Allen, he stepped up.

And what was that FSU player thinking, jumping offsides with around six minutes left on Allen's first game-winning field goal attempt? If he had watched the game at all, he would have known odds were in his favor that Allen would miss. If I were FSU coach Pat Hill, I wouldn't have rushed anyone in that situation. If he makes the FG, you still have enough time to march down the field. And I'd feel pretty good about Allen's chances of missing any FG over 40 yards.

Will Brooks Bollinger ever feel comfortable in the pocket? And if not, why doesn't UW run the option anymore? Mike Samuel was great at it, and logic would say Brooks could be too, if he ever pitched the ball.

Yes, the Badgers' receivers are young, but it was good to see guys like Jonathon Orr (freshman) and Brandon Williams (freshman) step up with some big catches.

I hope Scott Starks is better than that. He had a pivotal strip after a 37-yard catch in the third quarter, but don't forget, he got burned badly on the play to begin with.

But overall, lots of things to build on for next week, when the Badgers make the trek to Sin City, Las Vegas, Nevada. The secondary, with some mistakes, still looked a lot better than last year. The defensive front seven were adequate. The pass blocking needs to improve, but run blocking opened some gaping holes.

And the bottom line? A win for Bucky! 1-0 baby, Pasadena-bound!

"I've got more rhymes than the bible's got psalms…"

Mitch Nelles is a 2000 graduate of UW. He wrote for the Badger Herald and Wisconsin State Journal during his time in Madison and was awarded the 2000 William R. Reed Award as the top Big Ten student sportswriter. He currently resides in Milwaukee where he works in the corporate world as just another ant marching.

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