Varsity - The Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics

Varsity - September 13, 2012

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Badgers' chance to improve comes quickly THE VOICE MATT LEPAY • VOICE OF THE BADGERS N o matter what you think of the onside kick replay re- versal, and I have an idea what many of you believe, perhaps the best line on the subject comes from Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema, who told reporters on Monday that the Badgers "never should have put ourselves in that position." So, after further review, it is time to move on. These are interesting and chal- lenging days for Wisconsin foot- ball. There is a coaching change at offensive line. That is the big news of the week, and it certainly is un- derstandable. There also is another good oppo- nent coming to town. It is becom- ing more and more clear that the non-conference schedule is more difficult than most expected. Which sets up quite the contrast in perceived intangibles Saturday night. On one side is Utah State, a team riding high after last Friday's victory against in-state rival Utah. Through the first two games of the season, dynamic sophomore quarterback Chuckie Keeton has completed 77 percent of his passes. When the Aggies choose, the of- fense is up-tempo and features a little bit of everything. Add to that an aggressive de- fense and a special teams unit that scored a touchdown on a blocked punt against the Utes, and you probably have the ingredients for a confident bunch coming to Madi- son this weekend. 14 » VARSITY SEPTEMBER 13, 2012 On the other side is Wiscon- sin. The Badgers are in search of answers to fix an ailing offense. It probably was unrealistic to assume they could continue to put up the historic numbers of the past couple of years, but no doubt even neutral observers were surprised at what happened last weekend in Corval- lis. First, give some credit to Oregon State. It is a proud program with a proven head coach who is deter- "...I would like to believe there are plenty of folks out there who are open- minded enough to give this team a chance to fix what needs fixing.'' mined to get his own program back to its winning ways. Second, maybe we should take a step back and understand there are three new primary starters on the offensive line (I say primary because Ryan Groy did have four starts last year, but gone are Peter Konz, Kevin Zeitler and Josh Oglesby). The wide receiving corps is very young, and became younger when Jared Abbrederis was in- jured in the second quarter last Saturday. Beyond the adjustment to a new offensive line coach, it seems logi- cal to suggest that the lack of es- tablished threats outside can result in an opposing defense to focus even more on the running game. Hopefully sooner than later, those young guns can become es- tablished threats. One more thing to consider be- fore jumping off the ledge: While those of us in the media can spend a lot of time writing and talking about what is wrong these days, and while some fans do the same, a team just moves ahead. An easy reference is the 1999 Badgers, which lost at Cincinnati, then dropped the Big Ten opener the following week to Michigan. At that point Wisconsin was 2-2 over- all, 0-1 in the conference. It never lost again. An easier reference is last year, after back-to-back setbacks to Michigan State and Ohio State. If I remember correctly, things im- proved a bit after those two games. Yes, sometimes teams are un- able to get back on track, and the above examples are different teams in different years. But perhaps the lesson isn't so much for the Bad- gers themselves, but for those of us who follow them. I am not even close to being smart enough to know how this season will unfold, but I would like to believe there are plenty of folks out there who are open-minded enough to give this team a chance to fix what needs fixing. The Badgers will have that next opportunity beginning at 7 p.m. Saturday evening.

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