September 18, 2011

Wisconsin Non-Con recap

Technically the non-conference portion of the season isn't over yet, but I feel safe in saying that anything I say about the first three games will apply to the last one and then some.

But really, what is there to say? Wisconsin's offense looks incredible. My only concern on the offensive side was whether Russell Wilson would have anyone worth a damn to throw to, but Jared Abbrederis and Nick Toon have risen to the occasion. The Badgers are still getting plenty of yards on the ground, though James White hasn't seemed quite as explosive as he was last season.

The only hiccups so far have been some rusty play by Borland and Taylor in the UNLV game (understandable) that seems to have cleared up, and some strange line play against OSU. Early in the game both of Wisconsin's lines were being pushed around, which is unusual to say the least. They won 35-0 so they must have figured it out I guess.

Bring on Nebraska!

September 06, 2011

NFL season predictions

AFC Playoff teams:

North: Steelers (12-4)
East: Pats (12-4)
South: Texans (9-7)
West: Chargers (12-4)
WC: Ravens (9-7)
WC: Jets (9-7)

NFC Playoff teams:

North: Packers (11-5)
East: Eagles (11-5)
South: Saints (10-6)
West: Rams (9-7)
WC: Cowboys (10-6)
WC: Lions (9-7)

NFC North:

Packers: 11-5
Lions: 9-7
Vikings: 7-9
Bears: 4-12

Super Bowl: Steelers over Saints

September 05, 2011

UNLV 17 - 51 Wisconsin

Like last year, I'm going to try to do some quick thoughts after each game this season. It might be tougher this year because I'm at a short term position in Rhode Island and did not bring my TV. It looks like I'll be spending some time in bars this fall (for the Packers too, of course).

I barely followed Wisconsin football this offseason. About all I knew was that Watt, Carimi, and Kendricks were all drafted (and should play major roles for their teams this year). If you asked me this summer who the QB was going to be I might have said Tolzein --- I couldn't remember if he graduated or not. After I finally emerged from the football-shaped rock I was hiding under I heard lots of great things about Russell Wilson, but my concern was that he wouldn't have anyone to throw to. Between this and the talent drain from the draft I was uneasy with the predictions being thrown around about UW winning its division, let alone winning the B1G and contending for a national title.

How Wisconsin won: Russell Wilson got plenty of praise for his performance, but it was Wisconsin Football that won the day - running, running, and yet more running. At one point they listed all of Wisconsin's drives and they were averaging fourteen yards per play . Ball and White look in midseason form. Wilson looked great in the pass attempts he did make, though he overthrew two passes early. However, there's little doubt that the run game set those throws up so it will be interesting to see how he does against a stouter defense. The Badgers didn't see many third downs and those they did see were mainly third and shorts. Wilson made some great plays with his legs, and the best compliment I could make was that he didn't remind me of Brooks Bollinger*. He made good decisions on when to tuck and run and ran one in for an easy touchdown with WRs blocking down field.

*Bollinger was notorious to me for giving up on plays and trying to run with it. I can't count how many times I heard "Bollinger on the keeper....gain of one yard on the play".

How UNLV lost: I can criticize a few things about UNLV's game (mainly lousy red zone execution), but given expectations this was a win for them. Aside from the financial aspect (which was the main reason they set up this series), their "Pistol" offense gave the Badger defense fits, as well as the camera crew. I must have been misdirected five or six times with their option plays and had no idea who had the ball. They were consistently getting to the edge against a Wisconsin defense that looked very slow. The defensive line was definitely missing J.J. Watt, and Chris Borland (who I had completely forgotten about after he missed last year with an injury) did not seem like the impact player that he was when he won the B1G Freshman of the Year award after the 2009 season. Jesse Palmer or (ugh) Craig James mentioned that they could just be gaming Oregon State with their defenses this week, which is right about the level of analysis I expect from those two.

Game ball: Montee Ball

Next week: Oregon State (who just lost to a FCS team!) at Camp Randall. Wisconsin's non-conference schedule is nuts this year. Three games at home and one game at Soldier Field vs Nothern Illinois.