Yikes. Last week Bucky had a loss that was filled with promise, this week they had a lose that really makes you question how good they are. Iowa may be undefeated, but they have not been very impressive. The Badgers laid a big egg at Camp Randall on Saturday.
Not a good week for the first year starter. Scott Tolzien was inaccurate, and made some very poor decisions with the ball. His three interceptions were all on throws that he shouldn't have made.
Another problem for Tolzien, he got jumpy at any sign of pressure. The offensive line did a good enough job that nobody is at fault for a poor performance besides the quarterback. Tolzien had his first very bad game, it'll be interesting to see how he bounces back next against Purdue.
Running Backs: C-
Montee Ball looks like a much better second string running back that Zach Brown, but that shouldn't really surprise anyone since Brown has been more of a liability than anything else. In the first half of Saturday's game, it looked like the Badgers were going to roll past the Hawkeyes.
Then fans across the state held their breath as star running back John Clay was bent over backwards and left the game with what looked like a severe injury. He came back into the matchup, but the run game never found it's stride again. Clay finished the game with 80 yards on 21 carries. Again, the backs need to be better against the Boilermakers.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: D
Dropped passes. Again. This has been a problem for every single receiver that the Badgers have put out there this season. This week is Maurice Moore who dropped a touchdown, in a game against an undefeated team you can't make those kinds of mistakes. Also, Kyle Jefferson needs to be included more in the offense than he has been.
Tight Ends didn't have much of an impact on this game either. Garrett Graham and Lance Kendricks combined for only four catches and 38 yards. Graham left the game with a concussion, if he's out for an extended period of time the Badgers offense will take a big hit. When the offense is going well, the Tight Ends are putting up big numbers.
Offensive Line: D+
The inability to open up any running lanes in the second half absolutely killed Wisconsin. In the first half the Badgers really controlled the trenches, John Clay looked like he was going to run wild and he was getting into the secondary. The second half was another story though, there was just nowhere to run.
The Badgers won't see a defensive line of the caliber they faced the last two weeks for the rest of the season, so they should be a dominant unit for the remainder of the season.
Defensive Line: A
Wow, just wow. Between O'Brien Schofield and J.J. Watt the Badgers were able to consistently disrupt Ricky Stansi and effect the running game behind the line. The defensive line has really come together in the last few weeks. Seeing Chris Borland on the line in pass rush situations was a nice touch.
Not good, not bad, just kind of there. Mike Taylor getting hurt was a big hit for the linebackers, he's a sideline to sideline player and him being out left a big hole in the Badger Defense that Blake Sorensen and Chris Borland just can't fill.
One of those two guys will have to step up, Borland did end up leading the team in tackles for the game. That said, let's hope Taylor is alright. He's become a very important part of the defense.
What can you say? The Badgers corners are completely ineffective. The strength of the secondary is in the safeties, Jay Valai and Chris Maragos, and Iowa completely avoided the safeties in Saturday's game. They stuck to out routes and throws near the sidelines and Devin Smith, Niles Brinkley, Aaron Henry and Antonio Fenelus just can't cover anyone.
Special Teams: F
Philip Welch missed another field goal, and kick coverage stunk again. Also, David Gilreath is really struggling with his decision making on punt returns. He's running when he shouldn't and letting punts drop when he shouldn't. He's fast and a tremendous athlete but thus far, he is struggling as a return man.
Special teams just haven't been very good this year, they've struggled in all facets. Plenty to work on during the bye week.
All in all this was just a terribly played game from Wisconsin's standpoint. Defensive play-calling continues to be very questionable. It's hard to figure out why D-Coordinator Dave Doeren continues to call pass coverages where the corners play 10 yards off the wide receivers on third and four. He's basically conceding the first down. Why did Bielema fire Mike Hankwitz again? Doeren certainly isn't an upgrade and is clearly the worst coach on the staff.
After the Ohio State game, you felt good about the Badgers chances this week against Iowa. That was a loss you could feel good about in a lot of ways, not this week. Bucky has little chance at a Big Ten title, but there is not a game left on the schedule that they can't win. If the Badgers ever needed a bye week though, now is the time.