Stave hurt in loss; Phillips ineffective
Wisconsin quarterback JoelStave isn't much of a runner, but when he runs in the future, you had better believe he is going to slide.
With the Badgers trailing South Carolina by a field goal late in the third quarter of the Capital One Bowl on Wednesday, Stave saw daylight on the right sideline and decided to tuck the ball and run on first down. Instead of sliding, he turned up field and absorbed a crushing hit from Gamecocks cornerback Victor Hampton.
“I've been telling myself this for a long time—I've got to slide, I can't take hits like that,” said Stave, who injured his right shoulder on the play. “When you're playing good players they're going to be on you in no time. I've got make sure I'm getting down and not taking hits like that.”
Visibly in pain, Stave stayed in the game and even completed a screen pass two plays later. But four plays after the hit he went down to a knee and it was clear his day was over.
“I don't think it's anything too serious,” Stave said. “I was able to move it, I just didn't have a whole lot of feeling in it. I couldn't really lift it above my head.
“Had it been my left shoulder I probably would have continued to play, but if I'm in there trying to throw the ball and I can't throw it like I normally do that's just going to hurt us.”
As Stave walked off the field, sixth-year senior Curt Phillips jogged onto it. Phillips, who played in seven games last season and mopped up wins against Purdue and Indiana this season, was charged with leading a comeback despite only throwing two passes all season.
“Our offense didn't change,” UW coach Gary Andersen said. “We expected the backup quarterback to come back and Curt has been in that atmosphere before in big games.”
But the Badgers didn't come back.
Instead, Phillips, whose lengthy tenure with the Badgers ended with a 34-24 loss, wishes he could have a few plays back.
When Phillips entered the game, the Badgers ran four straight times and turned the ball over on downs. When he got back on the field, UW was down by 10 and he needed to throw the ball. Facing fourth and 1 in Gamecocks territory, Phillips' pass deflected off the helmet of South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney and was picked off by linebacker Kaiwan Lewis.
The defense kept UW in the game by forcing a fumble two plays later, but after a pair of runs got the Badgers into the red zone Phillips tossed another interception, this time on third and 1 from the 16 on a pass to the end zone.
“My head was in it,” Phillips said. “I've been paying attention. Obviously you don't get the reps not being the starter, but that's your job.
“Obviously I'd like to have a couple of those back. The one in the red zone it was the read that we wanted. I saw Ped (Jacob Pedersen) breaking to the middle and the linebacker got underneath that. Just got to put more air under it.”
Phillips completed 7 of 12 passes for 37 yards. When Stave exited, he was 9 of 13 for 80 yards with two touchdowns. He also threw a freak interception on a ball that bounced off right tackle Rob Havenstein's heel when Stave was trying to spike a screen pass into the ground instead of taking a sack.
“We put together a few really nice drives in the first half,” Stave said. “To have it end like that for me personally not being able to finish the game is very disappointing.”
Now he'll have the off-season to think about what could have been. And to practice sliding.
“I'm going to have to practice that in the off-season,” Stave said. “Put out a tarp, run up and just have one of my friends run at me and (yell): 'Slide, slide, slide!'”
Entering the game, UW running backs James White and Melvin Gordon were within striking distance of the single-season record for the most rushing yards by teammates in Football Bowl Subdivision history.
Nevada's Cody Fajardo and Stefphon Jefferson set the mark of 3,004 yards in 2012. White and Gordon needed a strong showing—202 yards—to break it.
The UW tandem broke the record in the third quarter, finishing with 250 yards for a total of 3,053. Gordon had 1,509 and White 1,444, making them the first teammates in FBS history to rush for at least 1,400 in the same season as well.
“Everybody thought that since Montee (Ball) left, where were all the explosive plays going to be? What I thought was we had an even more explosive backfield, more speed than we ever had before,” White said.
“We wanted to be better than last year and that's always the goal. That's going to be their goal next year—Corey (Clement) and Melvin, they're going to try to be better than me and Melvin were.”
Wide receiver Jared Abbrederis caught five passes for 30 yards to tie the UW record of 202 career catches. Four of those came during the comeback attempt, as he was stymied for most of the afternoon.
“They did a nice job on Jared,” Andersen said. “He was taken out of the pass game….You're not going to get over the top on these guys and they made that very clear very early.”
Doe provides spark
When South Carolina extended its lead to 34-24 with 11:05 left and Stave in the locker room, things looked bleak for UW.
Eleven seconds later, they had hope again thanks to a 91-yard kickoff return by Kenzel Doe.
Doe, who has had trouble returning punts this season, was replaced on punt return duty by Abbrederis. That change left him to focus solely on his kick return skills, which he found beneficial.
“Yeah, that definitely helped me,” he said. “I felt like this was the time I really needed to step up and actually break one and it came at the right time. I thought we had a lot of momentum, it just in the end didn't go our way.”
In a move that nearly everyone saw coming, Clowney, a junior defensive end, declared for the NFL draft after the game.
When asked by ESPN sideline reporter Tom Luginbill if this was his last year in a Carolina uniform, Clowney responded, “Yes, sir.”
Luginbill then clarified by asking if he was declaring for the NFL draft. The response was the same.
South Carolina's streaks roll on
Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier's bowl record was 1-4 after a loss to Florida State in the 2010 Chick-fil-A Bowl. Since then South Carolina has knocked off three consecutive Big Ten teams—Nebraska, Michigan and Wisconsin—in New Year's Day bowl games and has not lost to a non-conference opponent.
South Carolina has finished 11-2 overall and 6-2 in the SEC each year since that Chick-fil-A Bowl loss.