November 23, 2009

Series by series: UW's offense against NU

Offensively, Wisconsin was able to move the ball at points against Northwestern's defense. Unfortunately in Saturday's loss to the Wildcats the Badgers weren't able to do quite enough, particularly down the stretch as critical turnovers doomed the comeback attempt.

Now, as UW heads into its final bye week of the season, BadgerBlitz.com looks back at every offensive possession. The following is a series by series recap of Saturday's game.

FIRST QUARTER:

Drive No. 1: Started on UW 24 yard line following kickoff. (7-0 Northwestern)
Plays: 6
Yards: 25
Result: 37-yard Brad Nortman punt.

Key play: Unfortunately for Isaac Anderson the very first play from scrimmage foreshadowed how the rest of the game would go for him. He looked to be wide-open down the middle of the field and Scott Tolzien delivered an accurate pass, but Anderson was unable to hang on and dropped it. To his credit, he was looking into the sun, but he probably still should have made the catch.

Drive No. 2: Started on NU 48 yard line following 31-yard Stefan Demos punt.
Plays: 3
Yards: 1
Result: 46-yard Nortman punt.

Key play: On third and four, it looked as though David Gilreath might have had a shot at the first down marker on an end around, but instead of cutting inside the block, he went to the edge and was consequently dropped for a five-yard loss.

Drive No. 3: Started on UW 43 yard line following kickoff (10-0 Northwestern)
Plays: 7
Yards: 57
Result: Two-yard John Clay touchdown run. (10-7 Northwestern)

Key play: Just inside the red zone, Tolzien found Garrett Graham for 18 yards down the middle of the field. Graham made the catch and fought for as many yards as he could. Though he didn't quite get across the goal line, he did set it up for Clay to finish.

SECOND QUARTER:

Drive No. 4: Started on NU 37 yard line following Jaevery McFadden fumble recovery.
Plays: 5
Yards: 37
Result: 27-yard Graham touchdown reception. (14-10 Wisconsin)

Key play: Following the fumble recovery, UW didn't waste much time. Tolzien lofted a pretty pass to the end zone that Graham calmly reeled in for the 27-yard score. It looked as though he was interfered with, but he still managed to complete the catch.

Drive No. 5: Started on UW 40 yard line following kickoff. (17-14 Northwestern)
Plays: 3
Yards: 4
Result: 36-yard Nortman punt.

Key play: UW's drive ended when Tolzien couldn't connect with Anderson on third down.

Drive No. 6: Started on UW five yard line following kickoff. (24-14 Northwestern)
Plays: 5
Yards: 13
Result: 48-yard Nortman punt.

Key play: After gaining some operating space following Anderson's short kick return, the Badgers drive stalled when Tolzien was sacked for a loss of five yards on second and four.

Drive No. 7: Started on UW 38 yard line following kickoff. (27-14 Northwestern)
Plays: 1
Yards: -6
Result: END OF HALF

Key play: Tolzien was dropped for a loss of six yards on the final play of the half.

THIRD QUARTER:

Drive No. 8: Started on UW 31 yard line following kickoff.
Plays: 10
Yards: 51
Result: 35-yard Philip Welch field goal.

Key play: UW didn't waste any time coming out of the locker room and moved the ball at will to start the drive. Once it got to the NU 30 though, Anderson's struggles continued. On first and 10, he was called for holding that wiped out a five-yard Nick Toon reception. Then, later in the drive, a touchdown catch by Anderson was negated after he was flagged for illegal motion prior to the snap. Instead of scoring a touchdown, UW had to settle for a field goal.

Drive No. 9: Started on UW 25 yard line following kickoff (30-24 Northwestern)
Plays: 6
Yards: 37
Result: Turnover on downs.

Key play: Following Gilreath's punt return for a touchdown and a NU field goal, the Badger offense had a chance to recapture the lead with a touchdown. But when fourth and two came around, Bret Bielema decided to go for the first down instead of the long field goal. On the play, Tolzien was sacked, forcing the turnover on downs.

FOURTH QUARTER:

Drive No. 10: Started on UW 46 yard line following kickoff. (33-24 Northwestern)
Plays: 8
Yards: 54
Result: 13-yard Graham touchdown reception. (33-31 Northwestern)

Key play: With great field position following a Chris Borland kick return, UW needed to make the most of its chance early in the fourth quarter. After back-to-back passes to Gilreath got UW inside NU territory, Tolzien took care of the rest with an easy 13-yard toss to a wide-open Graham for the touchdown.

Drive No. 11: Started on UW 21 yard line following 37-yard Stefan punt.
Plays: 6
Yards: 26
Result: 38-yard Nortman punt.

Key play: On third and seven near midfield, it looked as though Toon had something going to the middle of the field. However, Tolzien, thinking it was a different read, threw toward the sideline and the pass fell incomplete. Following the game, Tolzien admitted the miscommunication was his fault and that he missed an opportunity for a potential game-changing play.

Drive No. 12: Started on UW 34 yard line following 33-yard Stefan punt.
Plays: 5
Yards: 25
Result: Clay lost fumble.

Key play: Really, the key play happened during the punt. While the ball was in the air, UW was flagged for holding that moved them back 10 yards. So instead of starting on its own 44 yard line, UW had to start at the 34. Still, needing just a field goal, UW was inching toward Welch's range when Clay fumbled the ball trying to pick up a first down on third and one. Northwestern recovered and UW had to be kept wondering.

Drive No. 13: Started on UW 20 following 37-yard Stefan punt.
Plays: 1
Yards: 0
Result: Jordan Mabin interception.

Key play: With 42 seconds left and no timeouts, UW needed to move the ball at least 40 yards to give Welch a shot to hit a winning field goal. But, on the first play of the drive Tolzien overthrew Anderson and Mabin intercepted the pass. Thus, the game was over and the NU fans rushed the field.

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