September 18, 2010

Arizona State defeats Arizona state (UW wins 20-19)

Wisconsin was lucky to win this game. They looked terrible, especially on defense and special teams. Wisconsin just couldn't tackle. At all. They were further hurt by the fact that 2009 Big 10 Defensive Freshman of the Year Chris Borland re-injured his separated shoulder three minutes into the game. DE and defensive captain J.J. Watt had to be taken off the field twice (though he returned each time), and Culmer St. Jean missed a fair amount of time too.

Arizona absolutely shredded UW's special teams, running one kick back in the first quarter, taking another to the house in the second (that was called back for two blocking in the back penalties), and nearly got a third at the end of the half (mentioned below). All in all ASU netted 256 return yards. That's just inexcusable.

The story of the game was ASU's miscues. They committed 8 penalties in the first half, including one I hadn't seen before - a sideline penalty on the ASU coaching staff. That sparked a tirade by ASU coach Dennis Erickson that probably should have been flagged a second time. They also committed a costly late hit penalty to keep UW's final, clock-killing drive alive. Erickson waited far too long to burn ASU's timeouts during the last drive, and found Wisconsin able to run out the clock before they could get it back.

Most importantly though, ASU left 15 points on the field. As they were slashing through UW in the first half, ASU missed out on two straight touchdowns, one by a clumsily dropped pass by one of their players, and another on a catch out of bounds by another reciever who just missed getting his foot down by inches. After UW scored to take the lead with 10 seconds left in first half, UW kicked off to ASU and they nearly ran it all the way back until Shelton Johnson finally made the tackle at the one yard line.

Most painfully, ASU led a drive to tie the game late in the 4th quarter and carved through the porous Wisconsin defense yet again to apparently get the game tying score. But then Jay Valai dove in and blocked the extra point, and the Badgers held on to win.

Wisconsin was outplayed in all aspects of the game. The offense looked out of sorts in the first half. When the Badgers were only down by 3, from the playcalling you'd guess that they were trailing by 2+ TDs. Too much passing from Tolzien, though he did make some nice plays to Kendricks. The 'real' Wisconsin only showed up in the 3rd quarter, when they ground out an 85-yard drive for a TD, followed by finally getting some pressure on Threet for once. Clay had a quietly decent game. For some reason they were barely using him early in the game and the announcers were confused that he was on the bench while the offense was sputtering. He still ended up over the century mark.

Game Ball (tie): Sheldon Johnson and Jay Valai
Tip o' the Cap: Steven Threet had a fantastic game. He was fully in command of that offense and was shredding the decimated UW linebacker corps.
Wag of the Finger: Obviously, the special teams coaching staff. I wonder if they'll run around tackling random people during the week, much like P.J. Hill and the rest of the running game had to carry footballs around all week when they had fumbling problems a few weeks ago.

The Badgers are banged up, but at least they effectively have a Bye next week against Austin Peay before B10 play starts in East Lansing on Oct. 2.