Andersen breaks down loss to Ohio State
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
MADISON--Two days after his football team lost a game it could have won, Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen expanded on the breakdowns that derailed UW’s upset hopes against Ohio State.
UW’s broad game plan covered four areas:
n Play great defense: UW allowed three touchdown passes in the first half and four overall, 390 total yards and a third-down conversion rate of 40 percent (6-of-15).
“No, we didn’t play great defense,” Andersen said Monday during his weekly news conference as UW entered the first of two bye weeks this month. “Solid at times but not great defense.”
n Score in the red zone: UW’s goal was to score on 70 percent of its trips inside the Ohio State 25. The Badgers scored on two of three trips (67 percent), with the failure a missed 32-yard field-goal attempt by Kyle French.
“That will work,” Andersen said. “Obviously it’s not exactly our goal, but I believe we did win that.”
n Play great special teams: UW failed here.
“Now we had an opportunity to play great special teams,” Andersen said, “and I think it was a battle that went back and forth.
“But in the end we missed a field goal and we didn’t get the rugby punt that was on the ground.
“So we lost that one.”
n Win the fourth quarter: UW outscored the Buckeyes, 10-0.
“I knew that was going to be a huge one,” Andersen said. “Yeah, we won the fourth quarter. But unfortunately it wasn’t enough to allow us to be able to win the game.”
Two plays contributed to the defeat and Andresen took time Monday to revisit both.
The first was the 40-yard touchdown pass UW allowed with one second left in the first half.
After the loss, cornerback Peniel Jean and safety Dezmen Southward said UW ran cover 3 to prevent a deep pass. On Monday, however, Andersen said the call was cover 2. Replays showed UW used three linemen, two linebackers and six defensive backs, with Southward and Tanner McEvoy the deep safeties.
“We made the decision fairly quickly to basically play cover 2,” Andersen said. “There are a lot of dynamics. Are they going to throw into the end zone? Are they going to try to get 15 yards underneath?
“If you drop eight—five under with a three-deep zone—there’s going to be a hole in there at about 20 yards and they’ve got a chip-shot field goal.”
Instead, wide receiver Corey Brown got behind Jean and Southward and was wide open in the end zone for an easy score.
“I support the call that was made,” Andersen said. “I support the decision that was made. Can we play that better? Yeah, but I’m not going to put that on the kid.
“As coaches we can coach it better and to put P.J. or whoever is back there in a better spot. We failed the kids in that system, in that moment to not get him in a better spot.
“But it was the call that was made, and if I didn’t like it I should have called a timeout and I didn’t.
“Like I said after the game … if I wanted to change it I should have, and I did not. So I’ll take it. Put that one on me.”
The second play came earlier in the first half with UW trailing, 14-7.
UW appeared to catch a huge break when Brown tried to field a bouncing ball on a 47-yard rugby-style punt by Drew Meyer.
Brown muffed the ball and UW’s Leo Musso recovered near the Buckeyes’ 30. The turnover was nullified by a penalty for illegal formation (on linebacker Chris Borland).
Brown then returned a 36-yard punt 6 yards to the UW 47 and the Buckeyes drove for a field goal and a 17-7 lead.
Andersen reiterated that the critical penalty on a UW punt, which wiped out a turnover, was the result of UW not having enough players on the line of scrimmage.
“The call was made,” he said. “I guess my take on that is that if we put ourselves in position for an official to make that call we need to be better coaches and we need to be better as players to not let that happen.
“It was an infraction.”
Andersen said he received text messages from about 20 players eager to return to the practice field this week as the Badgers begin early prep for Northwestern.
“The effort was unbelievable,” he said. “These kids played hard. It means a lot to them. That was a special opportunity, a special night in a special setting. The bottom line is we came up a little bit short.
“I am proud of these kids. I am very, very happy I am their coach and I can’t wait to get back to work and we will bounce back.”