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Grades: Tailbacks, O-line get ‘A’

first_imgUW running back John Clay had 134 rushing yards and a touchdown in the first half against Indiana.[/media-credit]Every week, Herald Sports takes a look back at the Wisconsin football game and grades the position groups on a scale of zero to five.Here is how the Badgers fared on the road in week 10 against Indiana:Quarterbacks — 3 of 5Junior Scott Tolzien didn’t exactly pick apart the Hoosiers’ defense Saturday, but he didn’t throw the ball away either. Tolzien’s numbers — 11-for-20 passing for 194 yards and a touchdown — were pedestrian at best, but they got the job done. Most importantly, the junior came through when it counted.His third-and-eight pass to Nick Toon on the Badgers’ final drive is what boosts Tolzien’s grade, though. While much credit goes to Toon on the route, Tolzien delivered a catchable ball to allow the sophomore receiver to pick up the crucial first down.Running backs — 5 of 5Anytime you rush for 294 yards, you know you’re doing something right on the ground. Sophomore running back John Clay started things off in the first half, running all over the Hoosiers for 134 yards on 15 carries and scored a touchdown in the first 30 minutes of play.After halftime, it was all Montee Ball. The true freshman rushed 27 times for 115 yards on the day, with 19 of those carries and 85 yards coming in the second half. Ball added two touchdowns on what was a career day that earned him UW’s co-offensive player of the week honors.Seldom-used running back Zach Brown added 18 yards on four carries in the second half when Ball was taken out for a breather. Ball and Clay also added one reception apiece for 10 and 11 yards, respectively.Wide receivers — 3.5 of 5The other player of the week on the offensive side of the ball was Toon, who caught five balls for 123 yards in his most complete performance of the season. As mentioned above, his catch during the Badgers’ final drive was one of his best. According to head coach Bret Bielema, it was the play of the game. Toon also carried the ball once for nine yards.Wisconsin’s other starting receiver, junior Isaac Anderson, added three receptions for 43 yards and a touchdown in the game.Tight ends — 2 of 5After a huge performance by Lance Kendricks last week against Purdue, the tight end corps was all but invisible Saturday at Indiana. Garrett Graham did not catch a pass and Kendricks pulled in just one ball for seven yards on the day.That being said, Wisconsin would not have had the running game it did Saturday without the efforts of its tight ends. On a power running team with no true fullback, the tight ends play a crucial role as lead blockers and the numbers would suggest they did a good job. Offensive Line — 5 of 5Even an injury to right tackle Josh Oglesby couldn’t keep the offensive line from having a strong performance in Bloomington. The O-line gave Tolzien plenty of time to throw on the day, as they did not allow a sack against the Hoosiers.They were even more impressive in the running game, as the performances by Ball and Clay suggest. Backup right tackle Jake Bscherer deserves plenty of credit for fulfilling the Badgers’ “next man in” mantra when Oglesby went down.Defensive Line — 3.5 of 5Wisconsin has allowed the fewest rushing yards per game in Big Ten play at 72 yards per game, and they performed even better Saturday against Indiana. The Hoosiers gained just 63 yards on the ground against the Badger defense, forcing them to rely on the pass.The Badgers’ pass rush wasn’t quite what they would’ve liked, but they did make an impact. Defensive end O’Brien Schofield recorded a sack and two tackles for loss.Schofield also forced a bad throw by Ben Chappell in the third quarter, which resulted in a Chris Borland interception, the second of the game by the IU quarterback. Linebackers — 3 of 5Borland led the Badgers in tackles with nine on the day, including one for a loss. He also had an interception as previously mentioned, which earned him UW defensive player of the week honors. Jaevery McFadden was third on the team with five tackles and Blake Sorensen was just behind him with four, as the linebacking corps was solid in stopping the Hoosiers once they got beyond the line of scrimmage.Secondary — 2 of 5Take away safety Chris Maragos’ second quarter interception and you have a terrible game for the Wisconsin secondary. Chappell picked the UW defense apart and exploited the Badgers’ cornerbacks with the deep ball several times. The IU junior finished with 323 yards on 25-of-35 passing to go along with three touchdowns.Special Teams — 2 of 5Overall, the unit played well, but an early turnover on a punt by Gilreath brings the grade down quite a bit. Borland added to his strong defensive performance with a 32-yard kick return and kicker Philip Welch had a solid game, hitting his only field goal attempt from 26 yards and converting on 4-of-4 extra points. Punter Brad Nortman also played a vital role in the field position game, averaging 44.2 yards per punt on four punts, with one inside the 20-yard line and a touchback.last_img read more

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The Opinionated Spectator…Pirates’ nightmare is reality

first_imgAlexis Sara CobbIt has been two days since the Pittsburgh Pirates’ wild card debacle. After 48 hours, I thought the horror would subside. I thought perhaps it would be like waking up from a nightmare in movies and realizing it was all just a hilarious joke. But I was wrong. The embarrassing loss was in fact reality.On Wednesday, October 1, 2014, the Pirates played against the San Francisco Giants and lost 8-0. There is no graceful to characterize the loss. The Pirates got humiliated at home in front of thousands of fans.We came. We Saw. They conquered.There are two names that are going to forever be sketched in the history books. Madison Bumgarner and Brandon Crawford.Unfortunately, neither of them play for the Pirates.Let me give you a quick recap of the highlights, or more aptly put – lowlights.  Everything was going fairly well for the Pirates in a scoreless game until the fourth inning.  Giant’s Sandoval and Hunter Pence opened the inning by each hitting singles.  Next, Edinson Volquez, Pirates pitcher, walked Belt on a full count. So, at this point, the bases were loaded and Brandon Crawford walked up to the plate.I remember thinking, he doesn’t look scared and frankly, that scares me.  It didn’t take long, on a 1-2 count, Brandon Crawford hit a home run. Grand slam.  Giants 4-0.For the record, the shortstop had been the only position without a slam in postseason play.“The last thing on my mind was probably hitting a home run,” Crawford said. “I was just trying to hit something good enough to get Pablo home, and I figured that would probably be good enough for Madison.”Bumgarner walked one and threw 79 of 109 pitches for strikes. He had 10 strikeouts. He allowed only four singles. He played like he understood the magnitude of the moment and he conquered the moment. But what should we have expected? He has thrown 15 scoreless innings in two World Series starts. He is no novice who is simply excited to be starting the game.The Grand Slam or shall I say, Not-So-Grand Slam silenced the crowd. Literally.  It was like thousands of fans were sitting there as if Drogo had ripped out their tongues on Game of Thrones. Utterly speechless. I was not impressed by the crowd’s response. Sure it’s 4 runs. But that is no reason to look and act defeated.The players cannot hear or feel the energy of their fans watching the game on television. Instead, the Pirates are affected by their home crowd’s energy.“We got outplayed tonight,” Pittsburgh second baseman Neil Walker said. “Bumgarner went out there, he did what he wanted to do… when they got up early on us we were trying to scratch and claw our way back.” Don’t you believe it!  After that grand slam, the game was over.The Pirates could feel the utter defeat in the air. They could smell the stench of fear and dismay. And you know what? The Pittsburgh Pirates played like it was over. This loss falls on the entire Pirates’ dugout, bullpen, coaching staff and fans.But only the Pirates fans that attended the game. Fans, you are supposed to rally. You are supposed to scream out, “That’s okay! We are coming back!”  You are not supposed to sit there with shocked expressions too devastated to even tweet. That is not appropriate fan etiquette.At PNC Park, the crowd was collectively wearing black trying to show solidarity with a “Black Out”. This game was not fun. This game was not entertaining. This game was an awful display from a team that had narrowly missed winning the NL Central. In retrospect, the crowd was dressed appropriately to mourn the premature death of another postseason.Alexis Sara Cobb may be reached at:  alexiscobb@ascexec.com or (724) 561-8082  Follow her on Twitter: @alexissaralast_img read more