Anderson Delivers First Strike

After being chastised by his coaching staff during fall camp, junior Isaac Anderson responds with his hands (three catches, 100 yards), his feet (23-yard touchdown run) and the first strike (80-yard touchdown on UW's first play), all of which proved vital in Wisconsin's season-opening win.

MADISON - Talking to reporters during fall camp, junior wide receiver Isaac Anderson often referred back to how his performance against Minnesota last season was an important first step in becoming a valuable playmaker within the Wisconsin offense.

It's a fair assessment that Anderson will refer back to this game as a building block, as well.

Scoring his first career touchdown on UW's first offensive play, Anderson had surpassed the 100-yard receiving barrier by the end of the first quarter and scored his first career rushing touchdown on the first play of the second quarter, two plays that provided a big boost to UW's offense in the Badgers' 28-20 victory.

"I knew that I had the ability to do those types of things," Anderson said. "I was able to do it in high school, and I just took advantage of that opportunity."

Even with a first-time starting quarterback under center, UW Offensive Coordinator Paul Chryst didn't hesitate to call a wide receiver go-route on the Badgers' opening play, recognizing that Northern Illinois would be playing without its top three cornerbacks from a season ago and based in a Cover Two alignment.

Knowing that he was going to be the play's main target when the play was scripted on Thursday, the only thing Anderson fretted about as kickoff neared was making the play.

"I was trying all day to prepare for the day and make it happened," Anderson said. "We talked about it during practice that we should strike up the band after that play."

When he was informed about Anderson's pre-play nerves, junior quarterback Scott Tolzien was happy he was kept in the dark.

"Man, I am glad that he didn't tell me that," Tolzien laughed. "I am glad it worked out."

The play was equally exciting for Tolzien, who was making his first career start after playing in mop-up duty three times last season. With dozens of family and friends in the stands, Tolzien took the opposite approach that Anderson did, not thinking about the play and just letting the defense dictate his options.

With Anderson streaking down the field, Tolzien calmly stood back and watch the show.

"I didn't want to run that far," said Tolzien of his explanation not to run down the field. "I am not in shape like some of these other guys. I ran down there, but the extra point had to come out there and with how slow I am, I had to come to the sidelines."

Anderson was far from done on Saturday, as he opened the second quarter by scoring from 23 yards out on an end-around, a play that showcased his speed to get to the left sideline and his grit to drive through a defender inside the five and tip-toe across the goal line.

Despite Anderson gaining over 100 receiving yards in the first quarter and averaging 30.8 yards per touch through the 15 minutes, eight seconds of the game, Anderson disappeared the remainder of the game, but didn't lose focus, something the junior wide receiver was chewed on during fall camp.

After he stopped running a route on a pass into the end zone, Bielema chew him out in front of the entire team and onlookers for quitting on the play. Needless to say, Anderson remained focused throughout, especially when Huskies cornerback Chris Smith yanked his helmet off and drew a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct, getting no retaliation from Anderson (something Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount should take notice of).

"Coach B always stresses focus and keeping a cool head," Anderson said. "Situation was third-and-one and we've got to stay smart and not beat ourselves."

Thanks to Anderson, the Badgers didn't.

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