Badgers find power game suddenly ineffective
MADISON (AP) -- Wisconsin quarterback Tyler Donovan quickly noted what's gone wrong in the Badgers' two straight losses. ''We're not playing how we know we can play,'' Donovan said. ''It is back to establishing the run, and being able to take our...
MADISON (AP) -- Wisconsin quarterback Tyler Donovan quickly noted what's gone wrong in the Badgers' two straight losses.
''We're not playing how we know we can play,'' Donovan said. ''It is back to establishing the run, and being able to take our shots when they come to us in the passing game.''
Wisconsin started 5-0 before losing 31-26 at Illinois and 38-7 at Penn State. P.J. Hill and rest of the Badgers' running backs weren't a factor in either game. Wisconsin only gained 214 yards in 65 attempts.
But part of the reason the running game struggled was that Wisconsin fell behind early in each game, trailing Illinois 17-0 midway through the second quarter and 24-7 to Penn State at halftime.
''We've got no one to blame but ourselves,'' offensive coordinator Paul Chryst said. ''We don't want to be a team that is one dimensional.''
Chryst said the defenses respond once they have to rely on the passing game.
Wisconsin also hasn't been able to gain much on first down on the ground. In their last 29 first-down rushes, 10 of them went for 2 yards or less.
That has forced the Badgers to go to the air earlier and make up longer distances.
''When you can get a head of chains, it is a whole different game,'' Chryst said. ''Consistency in the run game, you always strive for that. We need to get that back.''
What's more, opposing defenses say they're aware they'll be happy to stop them at least half the time because the Badgers are built to be a power running team.
''We knew they were going to be able to get 6 or 7 yards here or there because they have a great power running team,'' Penn State linebacker Dan Connor said. ''We knew as long as we didn't give up a big (play) we'd be OK.''
Donovan, the fifth-year senior who is 7-2 in nine career starts, knows its a struggle to rally from an early deficit, especially without veteran wide receivers Luke Swan and Paul Hubbard, who are injured.
But he said the passing game has to be effective if their rushing attack is stopped.
''That can't set you back. We've got to find ways to get it done. We have to adapt,'' Donovan said. ''If that is the type of game it's going to turn out to be, that is how it's going to be. You've still got to find ways to get it done.''
And Donovan said he's putting the pressure on his shoulders to ignite the Badgers' offense.
''As a quarterback, I've got to be a playmaker in this offense,'' Donovan said. ''I've got to be a leader and get these guys going. That's on me.''