Bielema: UW will bounce back
“Just the overall demeanor of this team shows me that they’re going to be able to bounce back and play a great game on Saturday,” Bielema said Monday.
The Badgers better back that up, since No. 11 Iowa (6-0, 2-0 Big ten) has won 10 straight games dating to last season and is off to its best start since 1985.
Wisconsin (5-1, 2-1) lost to Ohio State, 31-13, on Saturday despite dominating most facets of the game, including time of possession. But the Badgers couldn’t avoid giving up big plays and Ohio State scored twice on interception returns and once on a kick return.
While Bielema would love the Badgers to have more big plays, that’s not their style.
“Everybody loves big plays, but for us to have success, we’ve got to control the clock, we’ve got to be able to move down the field,” the coach said. “The biggest story on Saturday was to give up 21 points without our defense on the field.”
Last year after a tough loss to Ohio State, Wisconsin wasn’t competitive in a 48-7 loss to Penn State and ended up losing four in a row, capped by a 38-16 rout by Iowa that left some supporters questioning if Bielema deserved to be Barry Alvarez’s successor.
But Wisconsin has won nine of its last 12, and Bielema believes this team is different.
“Everything I’ve learned about this team from the first day of camp to where we are today is that they’re a very resilient group,” Bielema said.
Badgers running back John Clay, who fumbled three times against Wofford in his first start this season, has put together a string of solid performances despite an ankle injury that limited him to 59 yards on 20 carries against the Buckeyes.
“John, in my mind, took a huge step forward,” Bielema said. “I know statistically he wasn’t where we need him to be. That was a very good defense we were going against, but John had to do a lot to get himself ready to play last week and he did it.”
Clay will likely be getting a bigger bulk of the carries after running back Zach Brown suffered a concussion against Ohio State.
“If we practiced today, he wouldn’t practice,” Bielema said. “I don’t know if Zach’s going to play.”
Clay would be backed up by freshmen Montee Ball and Erik Smith. Ball has 24 yards on seven carries this season and Smith has added 50 yards on 11 carries.