Author: Ameya Kulkarni — WSUM Sports was live at Wisconsin’s home-opening win over Central Michigan. Here are game grades for each Badger unit in their 61-0 shutout victory:
In a turn of events, the quarterback was the story of the day, not Jonathan Taylor. Taylor played well, rushing for 102 on 19 carries and 200 total TDs, but the real story of the day was quarterback Jack Coan. Coan went 26/33 for 363 yards and 3TDs. Coan seems to have built a connection with newly reinstated wide receiver Quintez Cephus, hooking up with him for 36 and 46-yard TD passes on back to back drives. He also showed the ability to spread the ball around, hooking up with 7 different players. Coan showed off of his athleticism hitting Taylor and Cephus on designed rollouts and running a bootleg off a play action. Overall, it was a great tune up for the Badger offense, ultimately giving them confidence going into the Michigan game.
Posting a shutout is always nice but allowing only 3 first downs and less than 100 total yards of offense is more impressive. It was a total team effort today, with no individual posting more than 4 total tackles. One person who stood out early was Jack Sanborn, who had a sack on the first drive and an interception on Central Michigan’s fourth drive. The linebacking core looked great, with Chris Orr flying sideline to sideline on a key third down stop. The secondary held up well playing more man coverage than usual. Ultimately, their performance doesn’t mean much due to the quality of opponent, but nonetheless it was an impressive performance.
Special Teams: B+
It was a solid performance for the Badgers special team’s unit, however, if a couple plays went their way, the performance could have been outstanding. On the second Central Michigan drive of the game the punter botched the snap and Wisconsin could have recovered it to set up shop at the one-yard line. Instead, the Badgers were unable to recover it and the ball went out the back of the end zone for a safety. The second play was a missed 50-yard field goal at the end of the second half by kicker Collin Larsh. Larsh’s struggles from long range could come back to haunt the team in Big Ten play.
Anytime you win 61-0 your coaching staff was doing something right. Coach Paul Chryst and the offensive staff opened up the playbook, lining up in diverse formations including the pistol and the wishbone. He also showcased a jet sweep from the pistol formation which lead to a solid 8-yard gain for Danny Davis. There were multiple drives where Coan successfully ran exclusively from the shotgun. The job of the coaching staff is to win games and instill confidence, and that is exactly what they accomplished today.