This week we'll crank out some grades for the Big Ten opening win over the Michigan State Spartans (another phenomenal 6th place contender). Look, the Spartans are not that good of a team, but Saturday's win, except for the last five minutes of the fourth quarter, was the best the Badgers have looked all season.
I'm auditioning nicknames for Scott Tolzien. Here's what I've got so far: Scottie T or just Scottie (it needs more, I know). Scottie Tz, Big Z. I know, weak, I'm open to suggestions as long as they include "Scottie."
As far as the game goes you really can't ask for a better performance. The identity that the Badger offense has established so far has been a passing game supplemented by a running game rather that the other way around. I wouldn't call Bucky pass-first quite yet but this has been the most balanced attack that Wisconsin has had since John Stocco left, and that's all because of their quarterback. So far Scottie does know.
Running Backs: B+
John Clay had a nice bounce back week from his bout with fumblitis against the vicious Terriers. He ran for 142 yards on 32 carries, the reason you like this better than the 140-plus yards he had against Fresno is that his long run against the Spartans was only 18 yards. Meaning he had to grit and grind for his 140 whereas against Fresno State he compiled half his yards on one run.
Clay was good, backup Zach Brown however, was not. He did not recover from his fumbling problem, laying one on the turf and only had 30 yards on 11 carries. Sorry boys, you are graded as a group and Brown kept the backs from an A grade.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: B
Would you like the good first, or the bad? Let's start with the good, Tight Ends. Garrett Graham is the obvious performer, three of his five catches went for touchdowns. But let's talk about the guy you probably haven't heard about, and that would be Lance Kendricks. Kendricks was initially recruited to Wisconsin as a wide receiver, but he had the frame to move to tight end. As he's emerged in the Badgers offense (after a broken leg last year), you can really see why the Badgers are so high on him.
Wide Receivers are a slightly different story. By the numbers they looked good, Isaac Anderson has big time ability and Nick Toon looks like a star, but dropped passes are becoming a consistent problem. If Bucky's wideouts can hold onto the ball, they could be much better.
Offensive Line: A
How about Peter Konz? The freshman from Neenah, Wis. has been playing Center because of injuries to Travis Frederick and Jake Bscherer and he has been terrific. Round that out with Tackles Josh Oglesby and Gabe Carimi rounding into form after bouts with the flu and you start to think that Bucky's line might hold up when they face off with the Ohio States and Iowas of the world.
Defensive Line: B
Bucky did a good job of controlling Michigan State's run game, and a lot of that starts at the defensive line. I worry about any injury to O'Brien Schofield, he's too important to the Badger's Defense to be lost for any amount of time. I know it's a broken record, but depth has been, and will continue to be, a problem.
We've sung the praises of Mike Taylor before, but it would appear we get to again. The freshman led the team in tackles Saturday and also notched one of three Badger interceptions in the game.
Even more impressive might have been the play of fellow freshman Chris Borland. Borland was a force when rushing the quarterback and continues to impress for a first year player. Throw in Culmer St. Jean, Jaevery McFadden and Blake Sorensen and you've got a terrific group of linebackers.
This was one of those games that people will say "wasn't as close as the score indicates." But even if the Badgers coughed up a couple of 'meaningless touchdowns' they still count. And it still forces you to question the teams ability to close out games. In post game interviews coach Bret Bielema took the blame for the Spartans 91-yard touchdown pass with 15 seconds left. That said, it was the secondary that got burned.
Aside from the mistakes at the end of the game though, the corners and safeties played well. Chris Maragos is following in the foot steps of Jim Leonhard and has gone from walk-on to playmaker. Has anyone else noticed fellow safety Jay Valai on the field this year? Because I haven't.
Philip Welch made his field goal and extra-points, and that's all there is to it.
They won, and they played well in doing so. But this ends their easy start to the season, Michigan State has hardly looked like a team that some picked to finish third in the Big Ten this season. Bucky beat a team they were better than.
The next three games will tell us how good the Badgers really are. So far, we know that Bucky can win games at home, next week they'll head north battle it out for Paul Bunyan's axe at the Minnesota Golden Gophers new home stadium. The Gophers are a scrappy bunch and will provide a good litmus test for the 2009 Badgers. It's also their first road game of the year.
After that it's a trip to the horseshoe and a home game against Iowa. After this three game stretch we'll know just how good this team is.
Don't get me wrong, I think Kampman is a tremendous defensive end and a potential game changer in a defense that let's him use his skills. The fact remains though, that the Dom Capers 3-4 defense is not one that suits said skills. At 6'4" and 260 lbs. Kampman is a dominant end in a 4-3 setting, but lacks the speed to play coverage in the 3-4 and size to play end. It's not feasible to expect the same type of production out of him that Packer fans are accustomed to.
So why not shop him around? I'm of the opinion that Kampman will be dealt, most likely in the offseason, to a team that will allow him to play to his full potential. The question becomes, why wait? Surely there is some team that is willing to deal a player or two to help Green Bay's O-line or a team desperate enough to deal a very high draft pick (or two) for a player of his caliber.
If Richard Seymour can fetch a first round pick, than just imagine what Kampman's value would be.
One concern may be that if a trade were to happen it's not likely that Green Bay would receive an impact tackle. It's too early in the season for teams to think they don't have any chance (except maybe the Lions, and don't expect that to happen). So the players that could really help the team likely won't be available in time to help.
So the questions begin, should Kampman get the full season to see whether or not he can be an effective pass-rusher in the 3-4? Especially when their are talented players behind him that deserve more playing time? Another concern would be that, as Kampman struggles in the the new scheme and gets a year older, does his trade value diminish any?
What would trading Kampman do to the Packers defense? Well, it's been said that Brandon Chillar can play at any linebacker spot so a new linebacker rotation could find more playing time for Nick Barnett, a former pro-bowler who is an undeniable talent.
Also it would free up more plays for rookie Clay Matthews, as well as pre-season playmaker Desmond Bishop and the ever rock-solid Brady Poppinga. It's a nice problem to have too much talent at any given position, and it's a problem the Packers face now.
Let's face the facts though, Kampman is a square peg in a round hole.
Some people are talking about selling off players like Prince Fielder to start a new rebuilding process, but I don't agree with that. I don't foresee a dominant Brewers team in 2010, but I can envision a competitive one, and in the NL Central, that is all you need to have a chance.
General Manager - I'm going to go ahead and say that Dougie keeps his job as the GM. He wasn't given much to work with last off-season from free agency, and as per usual, the trading cost was too high at the deadlines. His one glaring blemish still on the team (Suppan) will be in his last year of his contract, but if I remember correctly, much of Brewer Nation was happy at the time of that signing.
Managers - Mark A. says it is up to Doug, and Doug is usually not a reactionary guy, but I think Macha will be out. Is it fair? Probably not. Macha probably could have gotten on the mound and pitched better than some of the pitchers at times. However, his management of the bullpen was at times mind boggling, the seeming lack of emotion frustrated many, and his annoying, but consistent, need to set lineups and matchups on historical data as opposed to riding the hot hand is maddening. My initial prediction for the next skip is Willie Randolph, and if the Brewers don't, the Astros might. With Randolph, the Brewers wouldn't lose any unfamiliarity and Willie is a proven manager. My heart wants to say Dale Sveum, but I think he loves/thrives being the batting coach. Also, it would be interesting to see if the recently fired Cecil Cooper comes back to Milwaukee.
Also, I predict Stan Kyles will be let go, and a familiar face, name Bill Castro will be rehired as the bullpen coach. I've been scoffed at this, but don't tell me you couldn't see it happening.
Catchers - Mike Rivera seems to prove he belongs, but can you trust a whole season with him as your main catcher? Sorry, Jason Kendall will be back with a one year deal. I thought about having Rivera/Salome combo because fact of the matter is Lucroy needs to move up to AAA next year. Then I thought that Salome could be good trading fodder.
First Base - Here is one that is becoming a topic of debate. Do the Brewers trade Prince Fielder while his value is as high as it can be, after coming off MVP type numbers in 2009? Not to mention, Prince has 2 years of control left? My thought is, no. I think Prince Fielder will be back manning 1B. He is too popular a figure and too important to the offense. Selling him now is giving up on next year. I think the majority of fans would start to get the "same old Brewers feel" and the turnstiles would see less action. Prince puts butts in seats...fact. Sure, Mat Gamel would probably make a good first baseman,
Second Base - Another interesting one. Felipe Lopez has been nothing short of awesome during his time as a Brewer in '09. He is a true leadoff hitter, which was something the Brewers were lacking, and his switch hitting ability makes him even more valuable. However, Rickie Weeks will be back. We have no way of knowing which Rickie Weeks we will see in 2010. We aren't even sure if his start to 2009 was a fluke or not, and we aren't sure if this injury will set him back. After some thought, the starting second baseman will be, Rickie Weeks. Sorry folks, the Brewers will offer Flip arby, but he will deny it and the Crew will get a compensation draft pick or two out of the deal.
Third Base - Infielders, infielders everywhere! Casey McGehee is having a tremendous rookie season for the amount of time he has seen on the field. At the same time, Mat Gamel has to be up and playing everyday next year. Many people are saying Gamel should try to make the move to the outfield, but moving players around might not be the best idea (ex. Bill Hall). Sure Ryan Braun's move worked wonderfully, but would Gamel be able to do it? Opening day starter at 3rd, Mat Gamel. McGehee's ability to play 2nd and 3rd makes him a valuable utility player, but the real reasoning will be that Gamel is supposed to be a franchise type of guy, you have to give him the shot. Look for McGehee to play almost everyday still.
Shortstop - Sorry J.J., the ladies from another team's fan base will certainly be glad to see you, and the Milwaukee girls will have to move their swooning elsewhere. It was made evident what the Brewers intentions are with J.J. earlier this year. Alcides Escobar has not disappointed and will be awarded the SS in 2010. Escobar's leadoff ability will be what makes Felipe expendable, and J.J.'s missing power numbers can hopefully be made up by Rickie Weeks. Hardy will have to be traded though, and hopefully J.J.'s value, coupled with another player, will draw a good young pitcher for the Crew.
Left Field - Easiest one to pick, Ryan Braun. I could foresee Braun moving to right field depending on what the Brewers decide to do with the rest of the OF, but for now we leave it alone.
Centerfield - The Brewers biggest hole in the field by far for 2010. Mike Cameron's contract is too rich for them to offer arbitration, as he would likely accept it and get a raise. I would love to tell you Cameron will take a discount and stay in Milwaukee, but his defensive prowess and his OPS will be coveted by teams that have the cash for him. If he were to stay, the likelihood of putting an inexperienced, say, Mat Gamel, in right could be more plausible. Another possibility in center is Hart, with Gamel once again in right, but talk about a poor defensive outfield. Jody Gerut will come back and take the duties in center.
Right Field - I mentioned the Brewers could potentially try out Gamel in the outfield and see how he performs, but that is what I want to happen personally. Realistically, unless he gets traded, Corey Hart takes his usual spot with the Brewers.
Starting Pitchers - Like it or not, Gallardo, Parra, Bush, and Suppan will all be back. That leaves one open spot and no one from within to fill it. The free agency is bleak, and Melvin learned his lesson on Suppan about over paying players. Unless he can get Lackey on a one or two year deal, this spot will have to be traded for. The potential players to be traded, Hardy, Salome, or even Hart. Honestly, I wouldn't be too surprised if Gamel is dangled as well with McGehee's great 2009.
Bullpen - Ladies and Gentlemen, watch as Trevor Hoffman gets save #600 in a Brewers jersey. Hoffman doesn't sound like he wants to move again, and the Padres aren't going to replace Heath Bell with a closer they all but discarded. The Brewers would be stupid to not offer Trevor arbitration, and he will likely accept that offer. Also expect Coffey, Villanueva, and McClung to return. The rest of the spots will depend on free agent signings and performances out of camp. Not being able to foresee those signings or performances I'll stick with what the Brewers currently have. I think Chris Smith has done enough to stick around, and Mitch Stetter for now is the incumbent left handed specialist. Mark DiFelice had a great start to 2009 and seems to be popular in Milwaukee, so he can stay.
Bench - The bench can be extremely valuable as we all know. Craig Counsell has had a resurgent year and will likely let the Brewers get the hometown discount once again. I've already mentioned Casey McGehee's possible role. Mike Rivera backs up Kendall once again. Jason Bourgeois will be the 4th outfielder. I think Corey Patterson will get the boot, but for now he'll stay and be the designated 'guy everyone hates'.
So, the 25 man roster will be:
C - Kendall
1B - Fielder
2B - Weeks
3B - Gamel
SS - Escobar
LF - Braun
CF - Gerut
RF - Hart
SP - Gallardo
SP - ?
SP - Bush
SP - Parra
SP - Suppan
CL - Hoffman
SU - Coffey
RP - DiFelice?
RP - Stetter?
RP - Villanueva
RP - McClung
RP - C. Smith?
IF - Counsell
IF - McGehee
C - Rivera
OF - Bourgeois
OF - Patterson?
Let us know what your thoughts are, or what you think may be wrong.
Sadly, there was much more Van Cleef and Wallach than Eastwood today, but the game wasn't without its moments:
- Charles Woodson was the shining star today. Two picks, a TD and a number of big stops in the running game. Watching him put the football down one step into the end zone makes me cringe--you don't want to risk screwing that one up--but his business-like approach to the game sets a good example for the young players on the team. Kind of makes you wonder if Nick Barnett is watching, but more on that later.
- Donald Driver continues to defy age. He came up with a number of big catches today, including a catch in the end zone with his heels on the edge of the sideline that made my jaw drop. I recently told a friend that I put Greg Jennings above him in terms of value, but I'm currently rethinking that claim.
- Despite an overall poor showing by the special teams unit, how about that onside-kick by Mason Crosby? Lots of top spin, just over ten yards, and perfect placement. Tramon Williams did a nice job recovering it as well. I forgave him after that for all the missed INTs he's had this season.
- Did anyone else not recognize that quarterback out there? Aaron Rodgers, our normally calm and collected offensive leader, was chucking balls downfield into triple coverage like he was wearing #4. Yes his wide-outs had some embarrassing drops, but Aaron didn't exactly help them out with his 70mph bullets either. It would be easy to continue to criticize, but l won't get too hasty--this is the first time we've seen A-Rodge really get taken out of his game. Let's give him a week to see how he responds.
- The offensive line wasn't exactly helping him either. There were plenty of mental errors again this week, from penalties to collapses. Little adjustment was made to account for Bengals D-Lineman Antwan Odom, who ended up with 5 sacks, so some of this falls on the coaches as well. You essentially have an injured player (Daryn Colledge) replacing an injured player (Chad Clifton) at left tackle--give him help.
- I almost forgot to give the entire front seven their due as BAD. I wholeheartedly believe they are better than this and will turn it around, but my goodness, when you get blown off the line like that and have guys repeatedly bounce off the running back, you should be ashamed. Forget that this wasn't the Cedric Benson we all knew and loved from Chicago--he did indeed run hard, but its no excuse for a unit with that much talent.
- Two false starts and a TD allowed today for Jarrett Bush--not good for a reserve. How did this guy finagle a long term deal? Whether it be on defense or special teams, he always seems to be around when things go wrong. Here's hoping the injury to Nick Collins isn't serious--I don't want to waste Woodson by moving him to safety.
- Nick Barnett's samurai chop. Just in general. I know you think it fires up the team, but please man, stop doing it. Its not the timing of it even, it just makes everyone cringe every single time.
- 3rd and 34. Not as memorable as 4th and 26, but just as embarrassing.
Dear Ed Hochuli,
I thought it looked like Carson Palmer fumbled before he crossed the plane of the end zone, and apparently you didn't agree. I guess that's fine--you're the ref. But no explanation from the most verbose referee in the NFL?
I mean, you give us that rambling explanation at the end of the game, but all we get after the review is "the play stands as called?" Give me something. "There was inconclusive evidence," or, "The ball crossed the plane before he lost possession." It may have been wrong, but you at least would have stated your case.
Finally Ed--and this is most important of all--you're lucky there was movement at the final snap. There were 2 seconds on the game clock, not zero. Keeping in mind your very public mistakes from last season, I think I speak for NFL fans everywhere when I say I never want to see your crew officiating my team's game again. You can take your biceps elsewhere.
Call me crazy, but I don't want to see Prince traded. I fully understand the argument for the move. The Brewers can't afford to keep him, we may as well get something for the guy, the rotation has a huge hole in it, and 1+2+3=Matt Cain.
But the cost to me is too great. And although Prince has emerged this season as a premier first baseman, (.995 fielding percentage, league leading 126 RBI), this isn't the quality that I feel makes him irreplaceable. Prince brings a natural leadership that doesn't exist anywhere else in the clubhouse, and that a pitcher simply can't bring to the table (CC is the exception to the rule).
Let's theorize a minute: who would replace Prince? Gamel is the obvious choice at his position, but he's too mild mannered to be an emotional leader. Casey McGehee could take over at clean-up and at times reminds me of Prince, but he's a bit too broody, as evidenced by his stony demeanor following his first career grand slam (he was still upset with himself over an error he made).
Then there's Braun. Don't get me wrong, Braun is an important cog, and an extremely talented ballplayer. A .300 BA, 300 RBI, and 100 HRs in under 3 seasons are the things a hall of fame career is built upon. And watching him swing a bat is a treat for any baseball fan--the man is an artist. But thus far in his short career, he hasn't shown that unmeasurable it.
Here's a montage: Fielder standing in the batters' box, glaring at the pitcher, bat slowly rocking. Shoving Parra to the bench after he attempted to slink into the clubhouse to hide from his poor outing. Plowing through Giants catcher Todd Greene. Restrained by his teammates in the Mets' clubhouse. Stomping on home plate after a walk off home run, arms raised in the air and smiling as his teammates fall to the ground.
Sorry Braun, but actions speak louder than words, and though these actions don't show up in the stat-box, they strike fear into the heart of the opponent and inspire those around him. And that is why they should hold on to him until the Boston Red Sox pry him out of their cold, dead hands. Who knows? Maybe a deal can be worked out.
Besides, a duo of Gallardo and Cain sounds nice, but I'd hate to miss out on things like this:
So here is the report card for the Badgers double overtime 34-31 win over the awe-inspiring Fresno State Bulldogs (sarcasm intended).
Scott Tolzien did his job perfectly. It's been a pleasant surprise to have a quarterback willing to stay in the pocket and make the throws rather than scramble as soon as he whiffs a blitz. Tolzien only completed 17 of 28 passes but he threw for over 200 and, most importantly, didn't turn the ball over. One comment though, we didn't see Curt Phillips in the game at all. That won't be the case next week against Wofford, but I was surprised he didn't even get into the game for a series.
Overall, Tolzien made some big throws when the team really needed it. With him at the helm, the offense stands to be very improved from a year ago.
Running Backs: A
Zach Brown began the year as the number one running back. He came into the Fresno State game as the starter. But after John Clay rattled off 143 yards on 21 carries on Saturday, Brown lost his starting job. I don't think anyone who has watched Badger football over the last couple seasons is surprise by this.
Brown will still get his carries, he had 40 yards and a TD on nine carries against Fresno. Clay is just too big, too fast and too powerful to not carry the ball 20-30 times a game.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: B+
Another good showing for this group. Isaac Anderson finished with 70 yards on four catches, Garrett Graham had three catches for 49 yards and David Gilreath(below) got into the mix, scoring a touchdown on an end-around.
The player that continues to impress though, is Nick Toon. The Middleton native has become the go-to target for Tolzien and the more weapons this team has the better.
Offensive Line: C+
Depth has be a major concern for this group through the first two games. Freshman Travis Frederick, who is the second string Center, was hurt early in the game and another Freshman, Peter Konz had to finish the game. That said, Konz played well and the real trouble came from the tackle spots. Left Tackle Gabe Carimi and Right Tackle Josh Oglesby struggled mightily with the speed rush of Chris Carter.
With Bill Nagy and John Moffitt likely returning from injury this week, the O-Line should be in better shape once Big Ten play starts. Wofford will be a nice tune-up for some of the injured players.
Defensive Line: C+
O'Brien Schofield is an absolute beast. He has, far and away, been the best defensive player for Bucky this season. Schofield had 11 tackles Saturday, four for loss and one sack. So why the the low grade? It's a one man line so far. Nobody has stepped up to pressure the quarterback. If the Badgers can't get pressure on the QB, they will have a tough time when big ten play roles around.
Jaevery McFadden continues to cover the field well, he finished second on the team in tackles on Saturday. He also notched one of the two sacks Bucky had in the game. Aside from McFadden, Culmer St. Jean and Mike Taylor had solid games. Neither made any huge plays but they did a pretty good job of stuffing the run game.
The linebacker rotation looks pretty good through Wisconsin's first two weeks. McFadden can cover a lot of ground if he stays healthy, while St. Jean and Taylor have been predominantly mistake free.
Aside from the deep ball he got beat on early in the game, Devin Smith had the good performance among the corners. Aaron Henry struggled, Antonio Fenelus looked completely lost. Niles Brinkley stepped up in the second half but he struggled with taller receivers. If the corner play doesn't improve, spread teams like Purdue and Northwestern (not too mention teams like Penn State and Ohio State) will have a field day against the Badgers.
Safety play was solid, again, and that's really the saving grace for this bunch. Chris Maragos continues to play like a man on a mission, expect him to have a big year. Jay Valai has been quiet so far though, but you haven't heard his name for the bad either.
Philip Welch missed his first field goal but settled down after that, hitting a pair. Most importantly he hit them when it really counted, nailing the game winner in the second overtime.
Offensive Coordinator: A+
Paul Chryst does it again. The Badgers play-caller continues to prove he's one of the brighter offensive minds in college football. He really showed his ability to work all of his playmakers into the game plan. Four different players scored touchdowns for Bucky in the game and Fresno State was never able to catch up with what Wisconsin was doing offensively.
Defensive Coordinator: D
And on the other end of the spectrum, there's Dave Doeren. Not only is his play calling suspect (as evidenced by the ten yard cushion corners gave wideouts in short yardage situations) but he continues to have trouble getting his play calls into the defense from the sideline.
Doeren needs to be in the booth, where he can see the play develop, not on the sideline misreading plays and failing to communicate defenses quickly. If these problems persist, something will have to change.
Special Teams: B
Bret Bielema has done a good job with the special teams thus far. Punt coverage in the Fresno game was strong. Dangerous return man Devon Wylie was held to 37 yards on four returns, 34 of which came on one return. Overall, the return game didn't hurt them and that's equally important.
Let's break this down short and sweet. Offense was good, both passing and rushing. Defense played better in the second half, but pass defense was horrendous. No consistent pass rush, and depth in the trenches continues to be a concern.
If the Badgers want to have a chance in the Big Ten they are going to have to get a whole lot better.
- That was a classic Packers/Bears game. Ugly offense and solid defense on both sides. Hopefully that isn't a theme this year as the offense is what is supposed to carry the Pack.
- Lange seems to think Cutler was executing the proper game plan.
- Our friends at Sheffield's House have some bold predictions for the NFL this year. Though I see item #6 is already crossed off the list.
- David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune didn't seem too thrilled with Cutler's actions on the field, performance aside.
- Tom Silverstein's breakdown of the game for the Journal Sentinal.
- Nick Barnett (@NickBarnett) posed a good question via twitter: "Everyone keeps talking about this throw from arod to win the game... Did you guys miss th. Pick by al Harris which actually won the game???"
-Some bloggers are wanting Thompson to get on the horn with Tauscher. True, Barbre played awful, but as the Bears' fans should do with Cutler, we should give Barbre one more week before lighting the torches.
- Speaking of Bears' fans and Cutler, do you feel bad? I don't, I'm laughing all the way to Week 2 about this.
-I'm having a hard time watching baseball on TV these days. I still care, and in fact have 3 or 4 more games I plan to attend this year, but with the Crew out of the race coupled with the start of football and the new fall TV lineup, baseball is slipping. Last year I missed the start of football season because the Brewers dominated every day of my life, so we'll call it even.
- I was fortunate enough to still have caught both Braun and Fielder hit their respective milestones. More of the rhinestones that dbauhs was talking about.
-If you missed Alcides Escobar's amazing play, MillerParkDrunk has it for you along with Escobar's thoughts throughout that at bat.
-This doesn't come as any surprise, but Trevor Hoffman would like to come back to Milwaukee, and likely will. If anything, it will put fans in the seats as he goes for 600 career saves.
- Look for my projected 2010 Brewers roster later this week. Surprises could come at Right Field, Center Field, and Catcher.
-It should not take two Overtimes to beat Fresno St. That being said, Fresno State should have beaten the Badgers.
- Close games against NIU and Fresno State makes things look bleak once the Big Ten games start. Maybe our super awesomely shaded coach Bret Bielema will straighten things out....doubtful. If anything, there is always Michigan St to laugh at.
- I think this last game was proof on why John Clay should get more playing time over Zach Brown
- O'Brien Schofield has two last names, that amuses me. Even if he wasn't proving to be a good player, he would probably be my favorite player simply for that lasty-lasty name of his. (a firsty-firsty, if you've ever watched Puddle Cruiser is two first names, and a first-firsty-girly-girly is a man with two girly first names, ex. Jamie Tracy)
- On Wisconsin has some initial thoughts on the game.
- Look for Lange to have his grades on the Badgers performance tomorrow morning.
- Charlie Weis' seat got a little warmer Saturday.
- In non-breaking news, Adrian Peterson is just plain sick (as in "wow he's good")
- Da Bears Still Suck!! The video below is slightly outdated, but the message will always ring true!
"I really feel like, with the players we have on offense, this is our best option," said Cutler.
Cutler's new strategy is a big hit with the team's coaching staff. "It sounds a little unusual, I'll admit that," said Head Coach Lovie Smith, "But Jay is our guy, we're committed. If he thinks this will help the team win, then I'm all for it."
The quarterback debuted his new strategy on Sunday night football against division rival Green Bay. Cutler finished the game with four interceptions, a career high.
"I really executed my game plan tonight, but they really should have held on to a few more passes," Cutler said, "Four interceptions is good, but really I should have had six or seven. That's the difference between a good game and a great game."
Return specialist turned receiver Devin Hester thinks his quarterback's approach to the game is refreshing, "I like it, it means I can focus on the parts of my game that are very strong, like spin moves and running backwards," said Hester, "If you hit the right thumbstick at just the right time and pull it back a little, I can do the sweetest move you'll see."
While some opponents of the quarterback's new plan point to the fact that the Bears lost the game 21-15 and Cutler's interception with 1:11 left sealed the loss, Lovie Smith defended his star.
"Look, all we really want to do is beat the Packers, and we did that," said Smith. When informed that he had lost, Smith attempted to challenge the final score only to have replays award the Packers an extra touchdown. After a confused look, he threw a football at backup running back Garrett Wolfe and left the room.
After singling out all of his receivers and telling them how bad they were, Cutler proceeded to field level to make sure he told any remaining Bears fans to either "Fuck off" or "Eat shit and die." Reporters later caught up with Cutler in his Mazda Miata, where he had been crying and "Hugging it out" with fellow Vanderbilt star and Bears Wide Receiver Earl Bennett.
"Look, I'm a gunslinger," said Cutler, "My job is to go out there and sling those guns. I'm not out there to win games, it's to throw the ball to someone who can catch it. It's not my fault our wideouts suck so hard."
Bennett, who played with Cutler in college, was a big fan of the new offensive scheme. "He throws the ball to me like every time, it's great," said Bennett, "He even threw it to me on the sideline a couple of times. I'm not even good, I didn't even draft me on my fantasy team." The pair then turned on 'Dido' and drove off.
Game Notes: Bears All-Pro Linebacker Brian Urlacher missed time late in the game after sustaining a 'sandy vagina' in the third quarter. The team said "He should be fine for next week, but that kind of injury can linger"....... After the game Chicago Running Back Matt Forte was seen interrupting several interviews asking "Do you guys know who I am yet?"
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (Low Class A) 58-81
Best Base Stealer: Erik Miller - CF - Miller stole 18 bases in 25 tries, good enough for second on the team.
Most Power: Brock Kjeldgaard - 1B/LF - The converted pitcher (left) showed big time power potential, slugging 20 homers on the year to lead the team.
Best Plate Presence: Corey Kemp - C/1B - Kemp finished with an impressive .376 on-base percentage and second on the team with 54 walks.
Extra Base Machine: Brock Kjeldgaard - 1B/LF - To go along with those 20 home runs, Kjeldgaard hit 30 doubles and 4 triples, he finished the year with an impressive 54 extra base hits.
Highest Average: Corey Kemp - C/1B - You were expecting Brett Lawrie? Kemp hit .282 for the T-Rats in 2009.
Best Command: Daniel Meadows - SP/RP - The lefty struck out 108 while walking only 32. Of players that pitched more than 90 innings for Wisconsin, his walks were the lowest.
Worst Defender: Brett Lawrie - 2B - His defense remains a work in progress, Lawrie committed 16 errors in his first professional season.
Best Hitter: Brett Lawrie - 2B - An advanced hitter, Lawrie (right) had a very well-rounded 2009. He batted .273 with 13 homers and 65 runs driven in. His consistency makes him the best hitter.
Best Pitcher: Wily Peralta - SP/RP - Peralta led the team in strikeouts (118) while sporting an ERA of just 3.47.
Brock Kjeldgaard - 1B/LF - The big lefty hit just .250 but he showed good power and finished the season on a high note, batting .319 in August and .409 in September. He looked destined for another year at Low-A before the strong finish. Strikes out way too much though, 174 times in 133 games. Still not bad for a former pitcher.
Corey Kemp - C/1B - After hitting just .253 in Helena a season ago, the 2008 14th round pick put himself on the map with Wisconsin this season. Kemp hit .282 with 31 doubles and a .376 on-base percentage, good enough that the Crew gave him a cup of coffee with Huntsville for the last week of the season.
Chris Dennis - OF - Dennis wasn't assigned to Wisconsin to start the year, but when Cutter Dykstra struggled and was sent back to Helena there was a need for another outfielder. Dennis responded by hitting .318 with 20 extra-base hits in 38 games before an injury ended his year.
Daniel Meadows - SP/RP - Proof that it really doesn't matter where you get drafted, just that you do. Meadows was a 49th round pick a year ago. He had an unimpressive year first season but flipped the script this year. Meadows led Wisconsin with an impressive 13 wins, eight more than anyone else. It'll be Brevard County for him next season.
Cody Scarpetta - SP/RP - The clock is already ticking for Scarpetta because an injury invalidated his rookie contract. He's on the 40-man roster and thus will be in the big leagues before the Brewers would otherwise like. Scarpetta delivered this season, tossing 105 innings and finishing the year with 116 K's and a 3.43 ERA.
Michael Marseco - SS - Last year's 11th round pick struggled with the stick for Wisconsin, batting just .189 through 93 games before ultimately being sent back to Helena and being replaced by Joshua Prince.
Jose Duran - 3B - Duran batted just .221 for Wisconsin in 2009. For a college hitter, and sixth round draft pick you expect better. At least he's consistent, he hit .221 for Helena a year ago.
Cody Adams - SP/RP - A second rounder last year, Adams struggled with a 5.93 ERA and 1.86 WHIP before being suspended for testing positive for amphetamines. If you suck when you're on drugs that are supposed to help, wouldn't you stop using the drugs?
Evan Frederickson - SP - Frederickson (left) has been flat out terrible in Low Class A. He finished the season with a 3-9 record and walked 82 in 97.1 innings pitched. His WHIP was an unbearable 1.86. I think it's safe to say a promotion is unlikely.
R.J. Seidel - SP - Let's chalk this one up to injury, but a bad year is a bad year. Seidel had a 1.78 WHIP and 6.91 ERA in eight game for the T-Rats. Considering that there was talk he may not pitch this year, I guess that's fine. Those numbers are horrendous though.
Biggest Surprise: Daniel Meadows - SP/RP - For a 49th round pick to have a year like Meadows had the organization has to be excited. He's big (6'5") and left-handed and has good command. He got hit around a little bit, giving up 122 hits in 116.2 innings, but that will happen when you are a strike-thrower.
Biggest Disappointment: Evan Frederickson - SP/RP - Was Jack Z trying to blow the system up in his last draft? Three of the top four pitchers he drafted in 2008 have been completely ineffective (Frederickson, Adams and Seth Lintz). Frederickson needs to find the strike zone and soon.
I think the bottom line is I’ve fallen into the recliner of the lost season. There’s no chance left for playoffs, and things have been bad long enough to numb me to the pain of a loss, so the only thing left is to kick back and make up my own excitement. Its something the Brewers themselves have taken to doing. Look no further than Prince and Co.’s shockwave stomp on home plate after his walk-off home run on Sunday. Some looked down on the act as immature, but I see a group of guys making the best of an unfortunate situation.
In fact, that’s where many Brewers fans are finding themselves right now. If you throw a “How bout them Brewers?” to the average sports fan in Wisconsin, its pretty common to hear a response of “Who cares? Its football season.” And while I can’t blame them, I can’t say I’m one of them. Tonight as I write this I'm dreading tomorrow's off-day. So are we masochists, those of us who can't let go? Why do we follow a team playing what is essentially pointless baseball, and poorly at that?
I say its the moments. Its the chance for the triple play and the walk off home run. When we at the Tap put together our favorite Wisconsin sports moments, not all of them were championships. Some of them were rhinestones in the mud--happenings that brightened an otherwise murky season. They are the reason we watch every pitch, every down--that chance to witness a memorable slice of history and be able to say, "I remember that."
So maybe Cappy’s plight is one that appeals to me at this point in the season. In all likelihood his career has very few meaningful innings remaining. But he keeps plugging away for love of the game of baseball. There may not be a championship in his future, or even another All-Star nod. But he might find a rhinestone.
We'll start off with some obvious awards, and finish with a five up, five down section. Five prospects who raised their stock, and five who lowered theirs.
Helena Brewers (Rookie) 30-41
Best Base stealer: Joshua Prince - SS - Prince swiped 26 bases in 36 games before being called up to Low Class A Wisconsin.
Most Power: Scott Krieger - RF - Epitomizing the all or nothing hitter, Krieger(left) bashed 13 homers, which led the team and was good enough for fifth in the Pioneer League. He also struck out 94 times in 64 games.
Best Plate Presence: Joshua Prince - SS - Let's just say his call-up to Wisconsin was well warranted. Prince led Helena in walks with 33, despite playing half as many games as his teammates.
Extra Base Machine: Chris Ellington - LF - Ellington was second in homers (10), led the team in doubles (15) and was second in triples (2).
Best Average: Sean Halton - 1B - I'm putting the number at 30 games to be eligible. Halton hit .338 and played just 39 games after starting the season with the low Rookie Arizona Brewers.
Best Command: Michael Fiers - RP - In the 21 innings he pitched for Helena, Fiers struck out 35 batters and walked only one. Needless to say he was promoted after that.
Worst Defender: Tie - Joseph Paciorek - 3B - Cutter Dykstra - 2B - Both players were poor fielders for the Brewers, recording 18 errors apiece.
Best Hitter: Chris Ellington - LF - Ellington hit .277 and had a well-rounded year. He led the team in Total Bases with 123, and was second in RBI's (42).
Best Pitcher: Nicholas Bucci - SP - Bucci struck out 66 batters in 69.1 innings, leading the team. He also led the team in wins with six.
Chris Ellington - LF - Ellington was drafted in the 32nd round this season. He is a college hitter and looked like it in the Pioneer League. He'll need to improve his on-base percentage (.314) if he wants to be a legit prospect but he definitely had a good first season.
Sean Halton - 1B - Just a solid season for Halton(right). The 13th rounder hit .335 between Helena and Arizona. At 6'5" his power should continue to develop (he hit just six homers this year). Expect him to start next season at Wisconsin.
Joshua Prince - SS - The self described "leadoff type" hitter, Prince provided just that. Between Helena and Class A Wisconsin, he hit .262 with 50 runs scored in 67 games. Most impressive though, is the .373 OBP and 38 steals. I see a full season with the Rattlers in his 2010.
Michael Fiers - RP - Talk about a fast riser, after his 35:1 strikeouts to walks for Helena, Fiers was bumped to Wisconsin. At Wisconsin he struck out 8 in 6 innings and was promoted to Brevard County. For the year he struck out 59 batters and walked only five. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him at Huntsville (AA) next year.
Nicholas Bucci - SP - Bucci had a solid year, posting six wins and striking out 66. While everyone talked about Jake Odorizzi, Bucci had a much better season. It'll be the Timber Rattlers for him in '10.
Cutter Dykstra - 2B - Dykstra hit just .226 between Wisconsin and Helena. He also committed 19 errors. For a guy with his pedigree, the expectations will maintain. So far though, he's off to a disappointing start.
Jake Odorizzi - SP - It's not that Odorizzi had a bad year, but he didn't have a good year either. For a guy drafted as high as he was (1A) last year, he needs to be better. Odorizzi had a pedestrian ERA (4.89) and WHIP (1.35).
Damon Krestalude - SP - You can't read too much into rookie ball stats because they don't mean all that much. But Krestalude gave up an unacceptable WHIP (1.70) with Helena this season. He'll need to improve on that wherever he is assigned in 2010.
Joey Paciorek - 3B - A 15th rounder in the 2007 draft, Paciorek has had trouble adjusting to major league game. A .231 average and 18 errors is testament to that.
Seth Lintz - RP - Ok, so Lintz isn't on the Helena team, you've got me there. But since I'm not going to summarize the Arizona Brewers season, I had to let you know how disappointing he's been. Lintz was drafted in the second round a year ago and hasn't thrown a good inning yet. He walked 38 in 40.1 innings and posted a 4.91 ERA in his second season with Arizona. He may head to Helena next year but his numbers don't warrant it.
Biggest Surprise: Sean Halton - 1B - Halton was drafted in the 13th round this season. He started with Arizona and raked and was called up to Helena and continued to rake. Very Impressive.
Biggest Disappointment: Cutter Dykstra - 2B - Dykstra started the year with Class A Wisconsin, playing Centerfield and stunk, then he went down to Helena to play second base and stunk. No progress made in his first full professional season.
Melvin explained the signing by saying, "I was glancing up to the television screen in my box a couple weeks ago, and I saw a swing that was almost identical to Brewers great Cecil Cooper." Melvin went on to say that, "as the weeks progressed I saw more and more great swings come from, this, Batting Stance Guy, and I made up my mind last night after watching him duplicate Kirby Puckett's sweet stroke."
Melvin was asked if he could provide any details about this new signee, to which he just replied. "I've had one of our top scouts watching his performances on FS Wisconsin and another scout dedicated to scouring the You Tube website." One reporter asked for a name, to which Melvin simply said, "Duh, Batting Stance Guy".
Ken Macha seemed especially thrilled, beaming that, "Batting Stance Guy has a swing that is as smooth as Ken Griffey Jr's, a swing as free as Vlad Guerrero's, and a swing designed to put the ball in play Ichiro style" Adding that, "I can insert Batting Stance Guy anywhere in the lineup, and he can swing accordingly, hell, if (Ryan) Braun goes down, bam, Batting Stance Guy fills the void"
Ryan Braun didn't seem to be bothered by Macha's statement, he was, in fact, jubilant of the opportunity to work on another personalized teammate high-five. Braun instead asked us the questions, wondering if he should, "go with a, Top Gun, followed by a reverse blow up from the bottom point of the, Top Gun, circling the arm full circle into a, Tiger Woods fist pump". After thinking for a second, he chimed, "Yeah, I think that'll be pretty cool".
"You have got to be f'ing kidding me." Sveum groaned when first learning of the signing.
"I think it's great" claimed J.J. Hardy "I can use batting stance guy's imitation of me, to help get my mechanics back in order, it's just a shame this signing comes too late for Billy (Hall). Manny Parra then could be heard in the background asking, "Does Batting Stance Guy do throwing motions too?"
"I think that's cool, you know, whatever can help this team" was all Prince Fielder had to say.
After learning about Batting Stance Guy and his ability to swing eerily similar to Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguiz, David Ortiz, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, and Joe DiMaggio, ESPN's Peter Gammon's was quick to say, "Probably the greatest player in all of baseball!"
The deal is rumored to be a 5 year deal worth $120 million. Not to be outdone, Cubs GM Jim Hendry has signed a pitcher with the ability to almost perfectly duplicate Tim Lincecum's and Mariano Rivera's throwing motions, that deal is a reported 6 year $150 million deal.
In what appears to be a developing story, Dale Sveum was just seen peeling out of Miller Park after reportedly getting into an argument with Doug Melvin.
Scott Tolzien looked good from the start, hitting Isaac Anderson for an 80-yard touchdown pass on the Badger's first play from scrimmage. He finished the game 15-20 for 257 yards and one touchdown. He also threw a pair of costly interceptions that helped Northern get back in the game. As a passer he looked good, mostly making the smart throw but his mobility could be a concern.
Backup QB Curt Phillips was as advertised as well. He threw the ball alright but he really impressed with his mobility. Phillips had four rushes for 43 yards and flashed his ability on a 20-yard dash.
It was a good performance by the QB's and they really won the game for Wisconsin, but if they have to be the playmakers it'll be a long season.
Running Backs: C-
Zach Brown showed good acceleration and a nice burst through the line, but he doesn't have the size and power to be an effective between the tackles runner. Brown had 51 yards on 14 carries but never really got into any sort of a rhythm.
The much hyped John Clay was equally ineffective, although he showed his power as a runner with two 1-yard touchdown runs. Clay looks a lot like a Ron Dayne type of back that can be more and more effective as the game goes on.
Overall the roles for these two backs seem undefined. Brown should be considered a change of pace back, with plays that maximize his quickness and speed and Clay should be receiving the majority of carries. In game one though, that was not the case.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: A
Senior Tight End Garret Graham was as advertised, with six catches for 82 yards. It will be important for him to continue to be a go-to target for Tolzien and Phillips. A pair of wide receivers looked very good as well. Isaac Anderson showed his big play potential with the 80 yard TD on play one and a 23 reverse for a TD. Nick Toon has the size and speed to be one of the better receivers in Wisconsin history, he's only scratched the surface of his ability.
Offensive Line: C+
The pass protection was very good from a unit with major injury problems before the game, a freshman (Travis Frederick) started at Center for Bucky. Tolzien had pretty good protection when he was throwing the ball, but this unit will be tested next week against Fresno State. Also the run blocking was not very good. Part of the reason that Brown and Clay struggled was the lack of running lanes, improvement will be needed.
Defensive Line: B-
O'Brien Schofield and J.J. Watt were terrific, but the rest of the D-line rotation was spotty at best. Schofield was a difference maker from the end position, most notably on a missed call by the referees (a goal line fumble that Schofield forced and recovered was ruled down by contact and not reviewable). As the game went on though, the lack of depth on the line showed through. Getting Louis Nzegwu and Brendan Kelly back healthy should help, but once again, D-Line depth looks like a problem for the UW.
How about Mike Taylor? If he can stay on the field he can be a very dynamic player for Bucky. Taylor forced a fumble and seemed to be around the ball on every play. Another Linebacker who was consistently around the ball was Jaevery McFadden. His speed and athleticism will serve him very well once Big Ten play starts. But McFadden also had a very costly facemasking penalty called against him that led to points for NIU.
Safety play was terrific. Chris Maragos was flying around the field, leading the team in tackles and recording a sack. He also had two tackles for loss and broke up the fourth down pass on Northern Illinois final drive. Between him and Jay Valai the safety position isn't of great concern for Wisconsin.
Cornerback on the other hand, is a different story. Aaron Henry looked good at times but he also looked very, very bad at times. He had a pass interference call that kept a scoring drive alive. Coverage by the corners will have to improve for the Badgers to have a good season.
Kicker - F
Phillip Welch missed both of his field goal attempts from 41 yards and 55 yards. Don't expect this to be a regular occurrence this season, Welch is a good kicker.
Coaches will say "a win is a win," and they did win so there's that. But the running game was not as effective as it needs to be, and the defense wore down severely in the fourth quarter. Quarterback play was as good as could be realistically expected and, more importantly, shows promise and potential.
Depth on the defensive line looks like it will be a problem yet again, someone else in that rotation will have to step up. This is a young team, so expectations should be tempered but the potential is there.
One item to address though, if someone doesn't tweet frequently, they don't make the list.
Joe Krabbenhoft - @krabbenhoftjoe - Who doesn't want to know about the minutia of Dakota Joe? Certainly not me.
Brian Butch - @Brian_Butch - I was pretty pumped to find this one. Butch is playing basketball overseas and it will be pretty interesting to hear how his time in Greece treats him.
Bret Bielema - @BretBielema - The Coach! Yes it's for real, he doesn't tweet all that often but his posts are very informative, definitely a must follow for Badger fans.
Badger Football - @BadgerFootball - Most teams have a twitter account with some intern posting, this would be the Football team's. Some good stuff though.
Badger Basketball - @BadgerMBBall - See above entry, only this time for the men's basketball squad. Good way to keep up with the team.
Badger Hockey - @BadgerMHockey - I like Hockey, and you should too, so follow the Badger hockey team and enjoy.
Charlie Villanueva - @CV31 - Charlie V was a member of the Bucks until this offseason, when Milwaukee elected (for some reason) to not re-sign him. Gained infamy for tweeting during halftime last season. He's nearing 60,000 followers.
Dwayne Wade - @dwadeofficial - The best player to ever play for the Marquette Golden Eagles, Tom Crean hasn't been the same since. Wade is a fairly frequent poster.
Ray Allen - @sugarray20 - He may play for the Celtics now, and the Sonics before that. But Ray Allen will always be a Buck to me. Who can forget the glory days of Sam Cassell, Glen Robinson and Allen?
Lee Evans - @leeevans83 - Former Wisconsin Badger, now the top wide receiver with the Buffalo Bills (Yes, I know Terrell Owens is there). If you want to keep tabs on Badgers in the NFL, Evans is a good follow.
Eric Arnett - @Eric_Arnett - Brewers first round pick this year, doesn't tweet too often and it's usually short and sweet. Just glad I could get someone from the Brew Crew on here.
Because I Can
Miller Park Drunk - @millerparkdrunk - Mostly brewer content, but hilarious and if you follow the Miller Park Drunk site, it's good to know when new content is up.
Sheffield's House - @sheffieldshouse - My former home as a writer, keep an eye out for new content on their site through their twitter page.
Sports Bubbler - @SportsBubbler - The ultimate fan site, good way to keep up with their new content.
Wisconsin Sports Tap - @WI_SportsTap - You didn't know we were on twitter? Shame on you. Well here's your chance for redemption, keep up with our latest content by following us on twitter.
Well, that's all we've got for you. I'm sure we missed a ton of good twitterers, so if you have someone that fits the mold please post it in the comments section.
It feels like cheating, but I have to mention a couple that missed the cut. Holmgren leaving Green Bay after having a street named after him was difficult to leave out, and the Brewers setting the strikeout record for a team in 2002 was something I actually witnessed in person. However, the latter is something I actually gave the team an ovation for--back then, a record was a record--so I couldn't in good conscience list that knowing what my reaction had been.
Okay, enough. Lets get this over with, shall we?
5 - Jenkins rolls his ankle
Reminder: the Brewers used to be bad. Really bad. So bad that when this happened, its unlikely that many of today's fans were even watching. In that infamous 2002 season--a 100 loss season, I might add--the Brewers were playing the Astros at Miller Park. Geoff Jenkins advanced from first to third on a hit by Tyler Houston, but was almost caught off third base. He hurried back and slid feet first back into the bag safely.
Well, he wasn't out, anyway.
Jenkins' right cleat caught on the base and everything not bone in his ankle went pop. The angle at which his foot bent was nauseating. He writhed in pain on the infield and was done for the year. It was the kind of injury that makes your skin crawl, and as such I won't subject the weak-stomached to the photos. For the brave, click here for images from the incident.
4 - TJ Rubley Audibles to Fail
Successes against Minnesota teams are always a little sweeter than the rest. Gophers, Twins, Vikings, doesn't matter--I can't stand them and love to watch my team rub their collective faces in the dirt. So when TJ Rubley took that away from me...well, he ended up on this list.
Although his starts streak remains unblemished, Favre was far from indestructable. On one particular Sunday at the Metrodome, he and backup Ty Detmer were knocked out of the game. Enter TJ Rubley, fast forward to the end. 24-24 game, less than a minute to go, 3rd and 1, Vikes 38 yardline. Field goal was maybe a stretch, but not out of the question. Holmgren calls sneak. Rubley "sees something." He calls an audible at the line, throws the ball right into the hands of Viking LB Jeff Brady, and the Vikings kick a field goal to win.
In retrospect, perhaps we were all a bit harsh on the guy. He undoubtedly had the jitters, and if that play is a completion he goes down in Packer lore as a hero. But as it stands, he disobeyed King Holmgren, threw a horrendous pick, and will forever live in infamy as "that idiot quarterback who lost to the Vikings."
3 - 4th and 26
This one even has a Wikipedia page dedicated to it.
I had somehow managed to push the play out of my mind completely. But when I saw it listed on Lange's list, it all came rushing back. 4th and 26 late in the 4th quarter and the Eagles have the ball with no timeouts. The prevent defense, Freddie "Fred Ex" Mitchell cutting through it all, McNabb running around, the lob, Sharper as always looking interception first, and the whole thing falling apart. What should have been a win went into overtime on a field goal and the Eagles won in OT.
This was a failing of monumental proportions, one that essentially cost Ed Donatell his job as defensive coordinator, and wrongfully so. Bob Slowik replaced him, was terrible, and the downward spiral continued as Mike Sherman GMed the Packers right into the toilet. This was a good team, but this play and the impact it had on the team laid the kindling for the end of the Mike Sherman era.
2 - Butch breaks his elbow
Warning: the same caution issued for the above Jenkins link goes for the video below.
This ended what could have been an amazing season. Brian Butch and the Badgers were ranked #2, and were taking on #1 Ohio State in a battle for the ages, and the game was epic, with the Badgers losing by a mere point. But that's not the worst part of the game.
Had Brian Butch not been lost, there's no telling how the 06-07 season may have changed. They could have beaten OSU. They may have won the Big Ten. As for the NCAA Tourney...well, it hurts a little to think about that. But this was a bigger loss than the box score would indicate.
Oh, did I mention it was my birthday? Yeah. Happy birthday to me.
1 - Favre's Finale
This has nothing to do with any of the subsequent nonsense that is now associated with #4. When Favre threw that pick in OT and the Giants took the game, it was like I'd been suckerpunched.
The loss hurt, no doubt about that. But what also hurt was that I was finally forced to face something: Favre was old. He looked nothing like the player only a week prior. Cold gets harder to deal with as you age, and our Ironman was no different. This was the moment I realized Brett should no longer be the Packer's QB. If you're going to helm the offense in Green Bay, you have to be able to play in the cold. Its a must. Because a successful season means playoffs, and a very successful season means you're playing those January games at home. And as Favre exhibited in both this and the December Bears game in Chicago, he couldn't put the cold out of his mind anymore.
So yes, the loss was tough. But coming to grips with the fact that I was ready to move on from the only Packer QB I'd ever known combined with that loss to make this a truly awful memory.