Grading the Badgers –Ohio State

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The statistics were pretty, but the end result was anything but, as Wisconsin gives up 21 points to cost the Badgers a victory over No.9 Ohio State, all of which make Badger Nation Publisher Benjamin Worgull's grades very intriguing.

Quarterback

Scott Tolzien knew he shouldn't have thrown each of his two interceptions. He knew that he needed to be perfect to fit a pass into a tight space. Because of pressure and being hit as he delivered the pass, Tolzien's ball sailed high and late, making it an easy pick for strong safety Kurt Coleman, who took it back for 89 yards and a 7-0 lead for the Buckeyes.

The second pass was greed, as Tolzien felt he could throw the pass over a dropping linebacker. The end results was free safety Jermale Hines tipped the ball to himself and scored from 32 yards out to give OSU a 21-10 lead.

"There was pressure, but both were poor decisions on my part," Tolzien said. "It's something I have to learn from and improve upon for next week."

Tolzien completed 27 of 45 passes for 250 yards to 10 different receivers, but constant pressure applied from a talented front four of the Buckeyes yielded the home team six sacks and threw Tolzien off his mark all afternoon. The junior didn't throw a touchdown pass for the first time this season and his longest throw was a 33-yard completion to Nick Toon.

"I'm going to take ownership of this experience and move on," he said.

Grade: C-

Running Back

The Badgers and their top-ranked rushing offense - averaging 217.2 rushing yards per game - and the conference's leading rusher knew they were in for a tough challenge.

Averaging 116.4 yards per game, John Clay knew it would be a challenge going against a Buckeye defense that hadn't allowed a 100-yard rusher in the last 15 games. Make it 16 after Saturday, as the Buckeyes held Clay to 59 yards and the Badgers to 118 rushing yards, nearly 100 yards below UW's average.

"They were very excellent," Clay said. "They have a defense built on speed. We tried to use our power to their advantage to try to slow down their speed game. They came through."

David Gilreath ran the end around four times for 36 yards, showing some weaknesses around the edges of the OSU front line. His long run of 15 was the longest of the day for UW.

Freshman tailback Montee Ball, who made his debut the previous week at Minnesota, played well Saturday, rushed three times for 19 yards and caught two passes for 22 yards. Ball and John Clay combined for five catches for 33 yards.

Grade: C

Receivers

Ten different Badgers caught passes, but there were plenty of problems.

Junior wide receiver Isaac Anderson (team-high six catches for team-high-tying 53 yards) dropped a pass over the middle early in the third quarter that would have given UW a first down inside the Ohio State 20-yard line and dropped an underthrown pass in the end zone a series later. UW settled for only three points on those two drives.

UW tight end Garrett Graham (four catches, 35 yards) was whistled for two holding penalties and a false start.

UW wide receiver and Ohio native Kyle Jefferson had just one catch for four yards in the Badgers' first five games, but had two catches for 23 yards. Kraig Appleton played, but has yet to have a pass thrown his way.

Grade: C

Defensive Line

Senior defensive end O'Brien Schofield recorded two sacks and 3 1/2 tackles for loss to push his season totals to 6 1/2 sacks ad 14 1/2 tackles for loss, becoming one of the more dominant linemen in the conference.

The rest of the defensive line combined for just six tackles (one solo) and J.J. Watt was responsible for Terrelle Pryor's 27-yard scamper that jump started the Buckeyes only offensive scoring drive when he failed to shutdown backside contain.

Other than that and a 31-yard run by running back Brandon Saine, the Badgers shut down Ohio State's running game, limiting the Bucks to 97 yards rushing.

Grade: B

Linebacker

Freshman Michael Taylor continues to impress in the Badgers' starting lineup. Taylor led UW with eight tackles (two solo) and registered 1 1/2 tackles for loss.

Culmer St. Jean showed his experience with his second-quarter interception, reading the eyes of Pryor and easily stepping in front of the route for a 13-yard interception return that set up UW's only touchdown.

Jae McFadden added six tackles and Blake Sorensen added one.

"Defensively, we executed and did what we had to do," said St. Jean. "Our defensive line played phenomenally, keeping the linebackers off double teams, and our corners played great keeping receivers in front of them. We just have to clean up mistakes."

Grade: B-

Secondary

Devin Smith led the secondary with three tackles and two pass breakups, but missed a fair share of tackles. Aaron Henry only had one tackle, but laid a solid hit on DeVier Posey that caused a pass breakup. Antonio Fenelus also added a pass breakup and three tackles.

Chris Maragos played well, as you will read in the next segment, but showed good discipline and footwork on a Pryor option play, getting the quarterback in the backfield for a one-yard loss.

Grade: B-

Special Teams

This isn't the first time Wisconsin's special teams have been a problem, but this was the first time all season the poor kickoff coverage cost the Badgers dearly.

Entering the game 106th out of 120 teams nationally in kickoff coverage, UW had allowed the Buckeyes to average only 15 yards on their first three kickoff returns. The fourth return showed the weaknesses, as Ray Small went 96 yards untouched for a touchdown in the third quarter.

According to UW coach Bret Bielema, who has coaches those units the last two seasons, several members in the middle of the unit stopped running as they approached the Ohio State wedge.

UW could not equal OSU's success, as the Badgers averaged 15.2 yards on six returns, with a long of 21. After David Gilreath (three returns, 56 yards) was having dizziness spells after an end around, Maurice Moore replaced him on two kickoff returns. He gained 21 yards on the first return but hesitated before coming out of the end zone on the second return, forcing UW to start from its 5 and receiver a stern talk from Bielema on the sidelines.

Philip Welch made a 50-yard and 46-yard attempt, but missed a 57-yard try at the end of the first half and 33-yard attempt late in the third quarter, both wide right, which has been his problem this season.

UW's only touchdown came on a fake field goal attempt in the second quarter, where Maragos took the snap, set the ball down briefly before picking it up and sprinting nine yards, reaching the ball over the goal line.

"We thought we were going to get a certain look and we were on a certain spot where we got the look, and they came out in it," he said. "Garrett made a nice block and I just tried to get to the sideline and, you know, put it in. I knew I was in. I mean, I felt like, I didn't feel like there was any need to review it. I knew I was in the whole time."

That was the only bit of good news in that department.

Grade: D-


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