Notes: Revealing Film Sessions

Losing its first game of the season, Sunday's film session wasn't as fun as the Badgers were hoping it would be. At the halfway point of the season, there are plenty of positives to take away while still learning from the negatives.

MADISON - Five times this season, the Sunday after game day has been a positive occasion. Sitting down to watch the film from the previous game, members of the Wisconsin football team have been learn from their mistakes while enjoying the thrill of victory.

But mistakes on Ray Small's 96-yard kickoff return for a score, breakdowns on the offensive line and giving the Buckeyes 21 points without the defense being on the field, Sunday's film session had a distinctively different feel.

"There's obviously a few things we need to correct on both sides of the ball," UW coach Bret Bielema said Monday. "It was a very painful film to watch."

What the film showed were the Badgers having four drives of 10 plays or more that yielded and 52 plays in Ohio State territory. Yet the Badgers managed only 13 points and the only touchdown coming on a fake field goal. On the four long drives, the Badgers managed only three points and had one play over 19 yards, a big reason UW controlled 25 more minutes of clock than the Buckeyes.

"We would like to be able to make the field goals, be able to convert on fourth downs or get into the end zone," Bielema said. "Everybody loves big plays but for us to have success, we have to control the clock and be able to move down the field."

But at 5-1 at the midway point of the 2009 season, a surprise record by some outsiders, Wisconsin football has plenty of positives moving forward. For starters, Wisconsin has forced 16 turnovers, tied for seventh-most in the country, and has scored 42 points off those mistakes.

Quarterback Scott Tolzien continues to be a breath of fresh air for the offense, making the Badgers more dangerous with a multi-weapon attack. Not only is UW one of just nine teams in the country to average at least 200 yards rushing and passing, Tolzien has completed passes to 11 different receivers, including 10 on Saturday, marking the first time 10 different Badgers caught a pass in a game since October 1994.

Wisconsin has also converted 19 of its 25 (76 percent) red zone attempts into touchdowns this season, putting UW ahead of its best touchdown ratio on record (70 percent in 2005).

Even despite Small's kickoff return, Bielema has been satisfied with the progress of the special team's play.

"I made a special point to show our players on Sunday, all the special team guys that were in the room, the first three kickoffs," Bielema said. "The first one was a 21-yard return to the 23, the next one was like a 13-yard return to the 23 and the next one was a nine-yard return to the 12. Those three same calls were all in the same line as the fourth call.

"You can't bat 75 percent. You've got to be 100 percent. The ultimate seal was that last play. I guess the consistency by all phases at all times would be the only thing I'm going to continue to strive to get."

Revamping the Chart

After being the featured back the last three weeks, sophomore John Clay is now listed alone at the top of the running back depth chart. Freshman Montee Ball and junior Zach Brown, who has been a co-No.1 in recent weeks, are listed in that order on the second team.

The main reason for Brown moving down the depth chart was because of a concussion suffered Brown during the Ohio State game. Brown, who finished with four carries for six yards, continued to start in order to help Clay adjust to the game.

"If we practiced today, he wouldn't practice," Bielema said. "I don't know if Zach is going to play. I started thinking about it, maybe we'll run naked (bootlegs) with Scotty in there. Just run an extra blocker out in front to start the play."

In my mind, he took a huge step forward Saturday. I know statistically he wasn't where he needed to be because that's a good defense we're going against. John had to do a lot to get himself ready to play last week, and he did it. The look in his eye and the way he approached things showed me that he might be ready to take a big step forward as a player.

"Montee was probably a little more comfortable, amazingly, at Ohio State than he was at Minnesota," Bielema said. "I think he's been there, done that. He's been on the road, and he kinda did what I thought he'd do. He's a strong runner, he's efficient with what he's doing and he's got some ability to catch the football."

Looking for Sparks

After returning three kicks for 56 yards, David Gilreath came up woozy after an end-around run early in the third quarter and was replaced by junior Maurice Moore, who has impressed the coaching staff as of late with his ability to field and return kicks in practice.

Although it would be unthinkable to replace Gilreath after his freshman season, the junior has seen his production slip, most likely caused by minor stress fractures in both his feet. With UW having gone 375 returns without returned a kickoff for a touchdown - and that came in 2000 when Lee Evans returned an onside kick 34 yards against Indiana – Bielema gave Moore a chance.

"He's been on the verge a couple of weeks in a row," Bielema said. "We've gone with David primarily over the last couple of years and just wanted to see if a change of pace would be good for that unit. He actually did a really good job returning the first kick … and got some good return yardage out of that.

"When we put Mo back in there, I really gassed him up, (told) him we are going to run this return. There was a nice crease on the last one, described to him about where it was going to be and told him to hit it and get it. As soon as he caught up the ball, take off sprinting."

"The problem was that it was four yards deep. When you're a returner, you really don't have an understanding of how far back in the end zone you might be. We used the bottom of the letters as a rule. If he's deeper than that with good hang time, we're not going to bring it out. Chris (Borland) was giving him the double brakes and he tried to come out, stepped across the line and was obviously put into a difficult situation. But Mo's been good during practice. If he continues to practice well this week, on Saturday you may see Mo in there as a punt returner or kick returner."

Extra Points: Saturday's 11 a.m. Homecoming game against Iowa will be televised by ESPN … After the loss, Wisconsin did not award any MVPs.


Badger Nation Top Stories