Grading the Badgers – Penn State

Three straight weeks, three consecutive losses. After letting it slip away two weeks in a row, Wisconsin never had the opportunity to let this win slip through its fingers in a 41-point loss. Badger Nation publisher Benjamin Worgull tries to find some silver lining in his position grades against Penn State.


You will never meet a quarterback that desperately wants to see his team succeed more than Allan Evridge. He's humble, he says the right things and his team respects him.

However, you can see this chance coming a mile down the road.

For whatever reason, Evridge has lost all ability to run the offense and his confidence has, without question, taken a hit the last three weeks. Evridge went only 2-for-10 for 50 yards, fumbled once and threw an interception that could not have been any easier for the defender. As it turned out, that was his last pass of the evening and more than likely, his last pass for the Badgers for some time.

"As a quarterback, you got to be able to move from key one to key two to key three, we just didn't feel that that was happening," said Bielema. "We felt like we really needed to make a change."

Backup quarterback Dustin Sherer came in at the 3:15 mark in the third quarter to a loudest ovation all evening from Badger Nation. His first two plays from scrimmage were a 23-yard pass to Garrett Graham and a 13-yard completion to Isaac Anderson. In retrospect, it took Evridge 20 plays to get two first downs.

Sherer finished with nine completions in 17 attempts for 115 yards, but he was picked off after Lydell Sargeant after trying to force a pass.

"I just overthrew him, got a little anxious," Sherer said. "Wish I could have it back, it would have been nice to go down and score on them, but it's a learning experience."

Bielema hasn't made a decision on a starting quarterback against the Hawkeyes until after he talks with his coaching staff and how both players performed throughout the week leading up to Saturday. Of course, practice doesn't show everything, as Bielema boasted Thursday that Evridge had a good week of practice leading up to Penn State.

If Bielema is smart, he'll start Sherer for the rest of the year to get junior ready for next season. Maybe then the Badgers will get solid quarterback play for an entire season.

Grade: Evridge (F), Sherer (B-)

Running Backs

It was clear Wisconsin wanted to establish the run from the beginning, as 11 of Badgers first 14 plays were run plays in the first quarter. Using a combination of P.J. Hill and John Clay, Clay was able to get just 21 yards and Hill only 15 yards.

Hill did lead UW in rushing with 58 yards on 15 carries and even reeled off a 15-yarder, his longest rush since the season-opening contest against Akron. But like Evridge, it seems Hill has lost his starting job to Clay, as the pair traded off series throughout the game.

Hill hasn't nobody to blame but himself for his decrease in playing time. The junior running back boasted all season to be in the best shape of his life but the statistics aren't backing that up. John Clay, who finished with 43 yards on 10 carries, looks like his carries are only going to increase as the season wears on.

For the third straight game, the Badgers haven't walked off the field with a 100-yard rusher, not impressive for a school that relies on the running game.

Grade: D

Wide Receivers/Tight End

The Badgers got Travis Beckum and Garrett Graham in the same game for the first time all season. Big difference that made.

Beckum led the Badgers in catches (five) and yards (79) for the second-straight game but four of his catches came in the fourth quarter with the game well out of reach. The receiving core was actually the bright spot of the game, as the Badgers got catches from Beckum, two from Zach Brown and one each from Nick Toon, Garrett Graham, Isaac Anderson and Kyle Jefferson.

Pretty much every ball that came the wide outs way, they caught, which is a welcomed sign. Of course, the pass has to get their first …

The argument could also be made the Penn State was just in prevent defense the entire second half. Maybe, but somebody has to get a good grade here … right?

Grade: C-

Defensive Line

Penn State running back Evan Royster came into the game with a 7.8 yards per carry average. Wisconsin's front four held Royster to only 60 yards on 14 carries (a 4.3 yard average). The defensive line did allow four rushing touchdowns but none longer than four yards, no rushes over nine yards and no running back over 100 yards.

Not bad against the eighth-best rushing offense in the nation.

Senior Jason Chapman and Matt Shaughnessy led the defensive linemen with five tackles each but the Badgers put basically zero pressure on Daryll Clark, which caused him to lead the Nittany Lions on eight scoring drives.

Grade: C


Senior Jonathan Casillas led the Badgers with nine total tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss and Culmer St. Jean fourth-quarter interception was the first of his career and the only turnover Wisconsin created all game.

The numbers are deceiving against the defense in the first half, as turnovers and bad special teams plays allowed Penn State to have scoring drives of only 16, 19 and 51 yards.

The second half though … well, I'll let the secondary explain that one.

Grade: D


On their first drive of the second half, the Nittany Lions went 76 yards in only six plays for a touchdown. Their ensuing drive was even better, going 82 yards in seven plays for the same result. All of that came in only 13 plays and in just six minutes, 16 seconds.

Furthermore, Penn State had eight plays that went for double digits in the second half, four on that second touchdown drive alone

"When we started the second half and they were able to score on their first drive and it really made it a difficult day from that play forward," Bielema said. "We really saw the momentum swing at that point and it was never really going to come back."

After having a solid season last year, Shane Carter's nightmare 2008 became a reality when he was replaced in the starting lineup by Chris Maragos, who finished with six tackles (second best on the team).

Allen Langford was flagged for a pass interference penalty inside the red zone that allowed Penn State to score a rushing touchdown on the next play. In the third quarter, Allen Langford knew he was beat and attempted to grab Deon Butler but slipped to the turf, making the Penn State senior wide open for a 44-yard touchdown.

Not a lot of good coming from this group Saturday.

Grade: F

Special Teams

Wisconsin might have been better off just going for it on fourth down all night. Bradley Nortman's 15-yard punt allowed Penn State to start its second drive from its 48, which turned into three points. Another short punt (36 yards) gave PSU solid field position for a 51-yard touchdown drive and Derrick Williams' 63-yard punt return could not have been any easier.

Williams made two defenders miss and nobody was close after that as he waltzed into the end zone. David Gilreath must be extremely jealous that he can't go against that kind of coverage.

On the bright side, Phil Welch averaged 70 yards on his kickoffs with one touchback!

Grade: F

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