October 4, 2009

Series by series: UW's defense against Minnesota

For the third straight game, the Wisconsin defense forced at least three turnovers. And, as it turned out, the Badgers needed each and every one of them as Chris Borland's fumble recovery at the end sealed the Badger win.

Now, one day after the fact, BadgerBlitz.com takes a look back at every defensive series. The following is a series-by-series recap from Saturday's game.

First Quarter:

Defensive series No. 1: Started on Wisconsin 37 yard line following kickoff.
Plays: 3
Yards given up: 22
Result: Devin Smith fumble recovery.

Key play: Duane Bennett was close to picking up the first down on second and 19, but as he approached the marker, Chris Maragos hit him low and forced the fumble.

Defensive series No. 2: Started on Minnesota 33 yard line following kickoff. (7-0 Wisconsin)
Plays: 12
Yards given up: 56
Result: 28-yard Eric Ellestad field goal. (7-3 Wisconsin)

Key play: With the Gophers inside the Badger 10 yard line and looking poised to score, O'Brien Schofield thumped Brandon Green for a three yard loss. The play forced the Gophers into a passing situation, and one they could not convert.

Defensive series No. 3: Started on Wisconsin 11 yard line following Nate Triplett interception.
Plays: 2
Yards given up: 11
Result: 11-yard Eric Decker touchdown catch. (10-7 Minnesota)

Key play: For the second straight week, UW cornerback Aaron Henry was burned on a fade route. Granted, both receivers that beat him are two of the conference's best, but Decker simply out-muscled him.

Second Quarter:

Defensive series No. 4: Started on Minnesota 16 yard line following kickoff. (10-10)
Plays: 3
Yards give up: -1
Result: 43-yard Blake Haudan punt.

Key play: On the first play of the drive, UW junior Niles Brinkley defended Decker very well and forced the incomplete pass.

Defensive series No. 5: Started on Minnesota 20 yard line following 49-yard Brad Nortman punt.
Plays: 12
Yards given up: 76
Result: 20-yard Ellestad field goal. (13-10 Minnesota)

Key play: The Gophers methodically moved the ball down the field and stretched the Badger defense. But, once they got to the one yard line, they made a crucial error.

On a quick fade that went incomplete to Decker, Jewhan Edwards was flagged for an illegal chop block that forced the Gophers back to UW's 16 and an eventual field goal.

Defensive series No. 6: Started on Minnesota 13 yard line following 52-yard Nortman punt.
Plays: 5
Yards given up: 20
Result: End of half.

Key play: Minnesota was clearly content to run out the half with a few running plays.

Third Quarter:

Defensive series No. 7: Started on Wisconsin 44 yard line following Scott Tolzien fumble.
Plays: 6
Yards given up: 16
Result: Patrick Butrym interception.

Key play: Minnesota had the screen pass working very effectively throughout the entire first half. But when they tried to pull it out in the third quarter, Blake Sorensen blew it up. The receiver couldn't handle the ball, tipped it into the air, and Butrym dove for it for the pick.

Defensive series No. 8: Started on Minnesota 44 yard line following kickoff. (17-13 Wisconsin)
Plays: 3
Yards given up: 7
Result: 36-yard Haudan punt.

Key play: Following John Clay's touchdown run to give UW the lead, the Badger defense responded with a quick three and out. In fact, Jaevery McFadden nearly intercepted Weber's pass on third and three.

Fourth Quarter:

Defensive series No. 9: Started on Minnesota 17 yard line following kickoff. (24-13 Wisconsin)
Plays: 3
Yards given up: -12
Result: 48-yard Haudan punt.

Key play: Louis Nzegwu got the sack of Weber to force the punt, but a lot of the credit on the play should go to the UW secondary. That was definitely a coverage sack.

Defensive series No. 10: Started on Minnesota 20 yard line following kickoff. (31-21 Wisconsin)
Plays: 3
Yards given up: 80
Result: One-yard Bennett touchdown run. (31-28 Wisconsin)

Key play: Weber and the Gophers wasted no time getting down the field. He found Decker for 40 yards on the first play and Nick Tow-Arnett on the second for 39 yards to set up the one yard run.

Defensive series No. 11: Started on Minnesota five yard line after partially blocked Nortman punt.
Plays: 8
Yards given up: 19
Result: Borland fumble recovery.

Key play: One play after Weber found Decker for 18 yards on fourth and 16, he was hit by O'Brien Schofield who forced a fumble. Borland was quick to jump on the loose ball and seal the Badger win.

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