Struggles continue for Badger offense
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
MADISON--After Wisconsin’s practice Wednesday night, head coach Gary Andersen noted the defense was ahead of the offense after the first 10 days of camp.
Day 11 reaffirmed that observation and illustrated the gap is significant and might be widening.
In short, the session was a non-stop highlight reel of sacks, tackles for loss and fourth-down stops. But why stop there? The defense recorded stops on first, second and third downs, too.
The offense was again plagued by pre-snap penalties and never established any rhythm whether Joel Stave or Curt Phillips was under center.
Andersen wasn’t scheduled to speak to reporters but decided to share his observations. The first question he faced: How do you grade a day like that?
“First of all you don’t want to be negative to the defense,” Andersen said. “The last two days they were flying around the ball and communicating well. The play showed it today and I liked the way they tackled. You could go on and on and on.”
“Offensively, you’ve got to get some mojo,” said Andersen, who acknowledged no quarterback has emerged as the clear leader. “We’ve got to get something going. … That is as bad as we’ve been in camp. It hasn’t been nearly that one-sided.
“We’ve got some things in the scrimmage (Monday) that will help it by scheme a little bit. But again it’s got to be a quarterback that can walk up there and have some command of the huddle.
“And the offensive line has got to get in sync. … I get discouraged. We all do. It is hard to continually get beat. No one likes to lose.
“They should feel they just lost a game. … That is how I feel on the offensive side of the football.”
Live work Thursday included goal-line situations, third-down plays and the offense being asked to drive the ball from its 30 and from midfield.
Phillips and Stave were given three series apiece in the drive-the-ball segment—two from the 30 and one from midfield.
The result was three first downs (two by Phillips) in six series and no points. The lone scoring chance died when kicker Kyle French missed to the right from 38 yards.
Stave and Phillips were given six plays in the third-down segment. The yardage to be gained was 12, 10, 8, 6, 4 and 2 yards.
Stave, working with the No. 1 offense vs. the No. 1 defense, converted three of six chances. But tailback Melvin Gordon was stopped for no gain on third-and-2 by linebacker Conor O’Neill and safety Dezmen Southward.
Phillips, working with the No. 2 offense vs. the No. 2 defense, converted two of six chances. That included a 15-yard run when Phillips avoided pressure and scrambled down the left sideline.
The lone highlight for the offense came in the goal-line segment when Phillips, working with the No. 1 unit against the No 1 defense, hit tight end Sam Arneson in the left corner of the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown on third-and-goal.
“It is funny how the tide changes from year to year,” senior defensive end Ethan Hemer said, noting UW’s defense looked porous at times in the 2011 camp against quarterback Russell Wilson. “A couple years ago we couldn’t stop them for anything. Now we’ve got it going. But that can change from day to day.
“These guys are going to come out hungry. They’ll have a better practice tomorrow.”
A reporter reminded Hemer that the defense could do the same.
“That is true,” Hemer said. “We’re not stopping. They’ve got to catch up to us.”