Badgers’ attention shifts to Spartans
Still, the Badgers are feeling good heading into the Big Ten opener Saturday against No. 24 Michigan State. No. 11 Wisconsin (4-0) limited its mistakes and found some much-needed rhythm during its 70-3 rout of Austin Peay over the weekend.
Coach Bret Bielema says regardless of the opponent, his team played well on offense, defense and special teams.
“I don’t care what just happened this past weekend. The fact is we went out and executed in all three phases, and if we can keep that mantra going, which is what we preach, good things can happen,” he said Monday during his weekly news conference.
The Spartans (4-0) will provide a much stronger challenge. But the Wisconsin running game is starting to live up to its lofty expectations. Emerging Heisman Trophy candidate John Clay has 501 yards rushing and six touchdowns so far this season, averaging 6.5 yards per carry.
Freshman James White added four rushing touchdowns and even fullback Bradie Ewing added two scores against Austin Peay.
“All of our games have progressed up to the Big Ten. It was good to have a game where we were all clicking on full cylinders and we’ll be good going into Michigan State,” Ewing said after the game.
Wisconsin scored on its first seven drives against Austin Peay and the Badgers have committed 11 penalties in all four of its first games, tied for second-fewest in the country.
Wisconsin is 10th in the country and second in the Big Ten with 257.5 yards per game on the ground and is one of just six teams to average at least 200 yards in each of the last three seasons.
The Badgers are also gaining 5.66 yards per carry. The last time they averaged more than five yards per attempt for a season was in 1999, when they won the Big Ten behind Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne.
Dayne and Clay certainly are similar in their bruising styles, though Clay has more of ability to make defenders miss. Scott Tolzien is completing 76.2 percent of his passes, and the defense has allowed just one touchdown in the last two games.
Even with the good vibes, Bielema said they’ve got a long way to go. “I’m happy with where they’re at, but we’re not anywhere close to were I think we can be,” he said.
Borland eyes surgery, return
Wisconsin sophomore linebacker Chris Borland hopes to have surgery on his left shoulder within the next few weeks.
Borland, who is taking a medical redshirt this season, told the Wisconsin State Journal that he will come back even better in 2011.
It will be the second time Borland has undergone the same surgery. He also had shoulder surgery after his freshman year in 2009.
Borland said medical experts have told him there’s a 94 percent success rate for this type of surgery.