November 8, 2008

UW rushes past Hoosiers

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Last week Wisconsin had two runners surpass the 100-yard mark against Michigan State. This week against Indiana, UW had three with one coming from a somewhat unlikely source. David Gilreath accounted for 168 yards rushing and two touchdowns in UW's blowout 55-20 win.

The following is offensive positional analysis of Saturday's game:

Quarterbacks:

In his own personal homecoming Dustin Sherer finished the game 11-of-20 for 158 yards and an interception. While UW went on for the easy win, Sherer once again did not play to the best of his ability. It seemed as if the quarterback, who was making his fourth consecutive start, played tight throughout the contest.

In the early going, his inaccurate woes continued as he consistently overthrew and misfired when passing to his intended targets. However, as the game wore on, he effectively managed the game and made smart decisions in his limited passing attempts. He also was not afraid to run downfield and try to throw a block for his running backs in the open field.

Grade: B-. In the early going, he made some bad decisions including a terrible interception. But, in the second half, although UW mostly ran the ball, he managed the game did not make any mistakes.

Running backs: P.J. Hill had his second impressive performance in a row as he rumbled for three touchdowns and 127 yards on the ground. From the onset, UW did its best to establish Hill and his powerful, downhill running style and it worked in the Badgers favor.

Indiana was never able to slow Hill and the success he had opened lanes for both Gilreath and John Clay, who finished with 112 rushing yards, to dominate against a weak Indiana defensive unit. Once again Clay displayed his power to the lane and bruising running style and continually popped off runs of more than 15 yards as he logged his second consecutive 100-yard day.

Coming into the game, Indiana knew they had to slow the Badger running attack if it were to win. Instead, the Badgers ran for more than 400 yards on the ground and punished the Hoosiers throughout.

Grade: A.

Offensive line: Even when Eric VandenHeuval went down early with an apparent leg injury, the UW offensive line dominated the Hoosiers in run blocking. There were a few occasions when IU got into the backfield on some passing occasions, but because Wisconsin ran the ball for most of the game, that aspect did not really matter.

Many times, the line opened holes wide enough that the Badger backs would not get touched until they burst through the Hoosier defensive line. Overall, Saturday's performance had to be one of the lines best this season.

Grade: A. Anytime a team racks up over 400 yards on the ground, the offensive line has to be doing something right.

Wide receivers and tight ends: Gilreath was all over the field on Saturday. On special teams he stumbled a bit, muffing two punts, but offensively, he was excellent. The Badgers repeatedly ran an end around to Gilreath and Indiana could not figure out how to stop it.

For the first time, other than punt return situations, Badger fans witnessed Gilreath's raw speed in the open field. On his 90-yard touchdown sprint, Gilreath gave the Hoosier safety a quick stutter step and just ran past him down the near sideline for the touchdown.

Other than Gilreath, Garrett Graham once again led the team in receptions. It seems Sherer and Graham have solid chemistry within the Badger offense as Graham provides a great target, especially in the middle of the field.

One of the unsung plays of the game came early during Gilreath's first touchdown run. After catching Sherer's lateral, Gilreath broke it outside for the score, but he may not have gotten there had Isaac Anderson not made a great block on his man. Once Anderson knocked his defender down, Gilreath basically strolled into the endzone.

Grade: A-




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