It will take a careful analysis of the game tape for the Badger coaching staff to get a grasp on what turned horribly wrong in the second half of a backbreaking 32-29 defeat at Indiana. But there are certain things that could be seen as plain as day without referring to the film. Here are five things that helped lead to one of the worst losses of the Alvarez era:
1) Lack of Killer Instinct
There was a noticeable change in the demeanor of the Badger players when they took a 19-point lead in the second half. As Coach Barry Alvarez regularly reminds his players, "You can't roll your helmet on the field and expect to win." Well, the Badgers rolled their helmets on the field, and allowed a feisty IU team to outhustle them and pull off the upset. This game tape is a textbook example for future teams to learn from, in relation to playing a four-quarter game. Wisconsin acted as if the game was over when the score was 29-10.
2) Horrible Secondary Play
Following the game, Alvarez mentioned it looked like his secondary was standing around. Well he was right on the money with that assessment. The Hoosier receivers had free reign in the open field, and the Badger defensive backs were consistently getting crossed up and failing to make plays. They didn't react to the ball, they couldn't make a play when it counted, and they made IU quarterback Gibran Hamdan look like a Heisman Trophy contender.
3) Key Injuries
This was one week where key injuries definitely caught up with the Badgers. Losing Jeff Mack was a huge factor in this game, as the linebacking corps had its worst game of the season. Darrin Charles and Bob Docherty were also big losses. A number of other players on both sides of the ball played hurt. And Lee Evans can't come back soon enough. Quarterback Brooks Bollinger seemed locked on Brandon Williams all day and IU knew it, because nobody else seemed capable of making a big play.
4) Offensive Line Mediocrity
This performance wasn't as bad as the showings against Northern Illinois and Penn State. But the offensive line is supposed to be much better than this. With the size, experience and depth that UW has up front, they should absolutely decimate a unit like the Hoosiers. The Badgers did wear down the IU defensive line to some degree in the fourth quarter, but they did not deliver the dominant performance that could have made a difference.
There is no doubt this loss is going to lead to gloom and doom from many fans. But Indiana deserves as much credit as Wisconsin deserves blame for this loss. It would have been easy for the Hoosiers to pack it in, down 19 points in the second half. Luckily for IU, that's exactly what the Badgers did, and it gave them just the opening they needed to get back in the game. The difference in the team's intensity and desire to win can be exemplified by one play – Courtney Roby burning past Scott Starks, leaping through Jim Leonhard and stretching the ball just past the first-down marker on a critical third down in the fourth quarter. The Badgers didn't display that type of effort, and it showed up on the scoreboard.
What Went Wrong?
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