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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Wednesday, December 08, 2021

Badgers shift focus to Wofford

 


Head coach Bret Bielema discussed some of Wisconsin's key individual performances and the upcoming contest against Wofford Monday in his weekly news conference.


 


Bielema praised two of his seniors, tight end Garrett Graham and safety Chris Maragos, as well as sophomore running back John Clay, expressing excitement about his veteran players.


 


""Anytime your seniors are playing the best football of their careers you can feel good about the way the season's going,"" Bielema said.


 


Many will remember the turning point of Saturday's game against Fresno State as the 72-yard touchdown rush by Clay to erase a four-point deficit and give the Badgers the lead, but Bielema heavily commended Graham for his contributions, especially his play off the ball.


 


""That was the best we've seen him blocking our entire time here,"" Bielema said of the tight end, who also had three receptions for 49 yards.


 


Graham and Clay shared the honor of offensive MVP for Saturday's game.


 


Clay's long touchdown run also garnered admiration from Bielema, not only because of Clay's individual effort, but for the blocking performance as well.


 


""That play was as pretty as it can get,"" Bielema said. ""Everyone wants to talk about John Clay's run. [But] if one of those guys wasn't on their block, they're probably going to hit John for a four or five-yard gain. But everyone was firm, they covered up, and the result was a touchdown.""


 


The defense struggled at times Saturday, but Maragos was awarded defensive MVP after saving the game with an overtime interception in the end zone.


 


Bielema also pointed to Wisconsin's plus-three turnover margin as a key to victory.


 


""That's a huge point of emphasis for us,"" Bielema said.


 


Attention will now turn to Wofford, an FCS squad. Not surprisingly, Bielema was questioned about the Badgers' decision to once again face a lower-division team.


 


Bielema defended the matchup, citing the difficulties and frustrations that go into scheduling, especially considering Wisconsin is under instruction to schedule seven home games each season.


 


Bielema also compared Wisconsin's habit of facing FCS schools to the nation's elite programs, such as No. 1 Florida, which opened its season against Charleston Southern, a team Wofford defeated last weekend.


 


In Wofford, Wisconsin will face an offense that relies heavily on the option.


 


""Offensively, what Wofford does is very unique,"" Bielema said.


 


Bielema said Wofford has a lot of offensive schemes, but despite being option-based, it is not similar to option-heavy Cal Poly, who Wisconsin faced in 2008.


 


The Terriers are 1-1, with a 40-7 loss to South Florida to open its season, followed by a 42-14 victory over Charleston Southern.


 


Last season Wofford finished 9-3, with a 7-1 record within the Southern Conference. In its only 2008 contest against an FBS team, Wofford fell to South Carolina on the road, 23-13.


 


""[They are] a very well-coached football team that will come in here and give us their best shot,"" Bielema said. ""And it's another opportunity for the Badgers to move forward.""


 


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