Frederick all business for the Badgers
It was a good thing, too, because Frederick’s preparedness helped save the Badgers’ offensive line as Wisconsin completed a 9-3 regular season and moved back into the Top 25 in the major polls.
With redshirt freshman center Peter Konz out of the lineup after coming down with lung inflammation, Frederick, a freshman from Walworth Big Foot, got his third career start, and first at left guard, Saturday night in Wisconsin’s 51-10 victory over Hawaii.
“Always when you’re with the twos (second string), you have to be ready for that next man in,” Frederick said. “I knew that first hand from when I got hurt and Peter got in. I think that really helped all week, because we don’t get a lot of reps.”
After becoming the first true freshman lineman ever to start in a season opener for the Badgers, Frederick hadn’t played since injuring his ankle in the first quarter against Fresno State in Week 2. The emergence of Konz and the stability of the offensive line simply made Wisconsin coaches leery of making a switch.
With Konz’ injury and the Badgers restricted to the number of players who could travel to Oahu, junior left guard John Moffitt moved from left guard, where he had started the last eight games, to center, where he started all 13 games last season. Frederick then played guard, a position where he had been taking repetitions since returning from his injury.
The results spoke for themselves. Wisconsin ran for 301 yards and seven touchdowns against Hawaii, while Frederick was called for only one holding penalty.
“It means a lot to us when we do that,” Frederick said of the strong ground game. “The first thing we look at is rushing yards and touchdowns, but I have to give a lot of credit to coach (Paul) Chryst (the offensive coordinator) for calling the right plays and the running backs for making a lot from those holes.”
Schofield, Watt cited
When the recognition was broken to them, the reaction of UW defensive ends O’Brien Schofield and J.J. Watt was as expected.
After all, the two had been talking about becoming the nation’s leader in tackle for losses for teammates throughout the bye week.
“We got it?” Watt questioned. “That’s awesome. We had been talking about that the guys from Purdue had it, and we wanted it.”
Entering the final game of the regular season trailing Purdue’s Ryan Kerrigan and Jason Werner by two for most tackles for loss by a pair of teammates, Watt had three TFLs against Hawaii, and Schofield had two, giving the pair 36 for the season.
That’s the most in the nation, and an impressive accomplishment after the Badgers did not have a player with double-digit TFLs last year.
“One of our goals this year was to re-establish Wisconsin football,” Schofield said. “I think we brought the physicality back to this university—this program and how we play. The big thing is finishing strong.”
The last time two UW players combined for more than 31 TFLs was 2003, with Anttaj Hawthorne (20) and Alex Lewis (16.5).
This also gave Wisconsin its first dominant pass rushers since Erasmus James in the 2004 season. That was when James was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.
The impact Schofield, a consensus first-team All-Big Ten selection, and Watt, an honorable mention selection by the media, made against Hawaii can be viewed in his final numbers. Schofield’s two quarterback sacks gave him 10 for the season and 22.5 tackles for loss, placing him fifth on UW’s single-season TFL list and tied for sixth on the sack list.
Watt continued his impressive first season by finishing the year with 12.5 tackles for loss, while helping Wisconsin limit a ninth straight opponent to less than 100 yards rushing—the longest streak in school history.
“Hard work pays off, especially for J.J. being a returning player and needing to step up and be a leader,” Schofield said. “Just to have guys step up and play as hard means a lot to me, especially being a senior.
“The biggest thing is that we wanted to have fun out there and focus on our pass rush. It paid off for us today.”
Special day for Borlands
The excursion to Hawaii was already going to be a special trip for Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland, the Big Ten Freshman of the Year. While being able to see his brother, John (a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army, who is stationed on Oahu) for the first time since 2008, Borland gave him a game to remember.
In addition to his usual defensive play-making abilities, which included a 16-yard sack, Borland was summoned to attempt his first collegiate extra point after sophomore kicker Philip Welch missed a 41-yard field goal and extra point in the first quarter.
“Anytime we have one of our field-goal kickers miss an extra point, we can’t have that,” Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said. “I wanted to send a message to Phil.”
Although he didn’t get much hang time, Borland didn’t disappoint, capping John Clay’s third touchdown run with an extra point. In all, Borland went 3-of-3 in his PAT attempts.
“I was excited when I first decided to play at Wisconsin because I knew there was a chance I could play in front of my brother when he got back from Iraq,” Borland said. “I’m really glad I got chance because it’ll give him something he’ll remember. It couldn’t have been better.”
It hasn’t been the year Wisconsin fifth-year senior quarterback Dustin Sherer would have liked, but at least he left the field making a play he’s known for—tough, gritty and no-nonsense.
Entering the game on the Badgers’ final series, Sherer ran a naked bootleg on fourth down, hoping to simply run out the clock. What he got instead was what junior quarterback Scott Tolzien called his best memory of the year. Sherer dove for the goal line, was flipped 360 degrees by a Hawaii defender and still managed to hang on to the ball for the touchdown.
“I’ve been asked to play before but felt Curt (Phillips) would get better use of the reps,” Sherer said. “It was a good play call and something that works a lot.
“I knew going in it would probably be the last time I would play football. Making a play like that to end my career is pretty fun.”
Wisconsin’s offense scored at least 30 points for the fifth straight game and ninth time this season … UW junior David Gilreath accounted for 169 all-purpose yards … The weather conditions at kickoff were partly cloudy skies and 77 degrees.