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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Sunday, May 19, 2024
Montee Ball

Football: Ball, offense return to top-level form

In what was the Wisconsin football team’s (2-1 Big Ten, 5-2 overall) best performance of the season Saturday, the Badgers seemed to find what was missing offensively in the team’s shakey start to the season.

According to senior running back Montee Ball, a lot of it had to do with the team’s realization that everybody was pointing the finger at someone else when the team was in desperate need of a boost.

“I guess you can kind of say everyone was looking around for someone to make plays and continue to make plays,” Ball said. “And finally players started to do it.”

Ball also admitted he went into some earlier games with a sense of believing the offensive line could clear his path at will. Or perhaps it was being accustomed to having last year’s offensive line virtually block every single defender it their path.

“Not everyone is going to be blocked,” he said. “[I realized] I have to start making people miss and I have to start shedding tackles.”

By the second half of  Saturday’s game, the Badger running backs were essentially running behind a line that was, in fact, blocking almost everybody in their path. And this happened even when senior left tackle Rick Wagner exited.

Interim offensive line coach Bart Miller said the line’s increased swagger more than made up for his loss, though.

“When we’re executing properly and putting guys on the ground…it gets us going,” he said with a smile. “Those guys really started believing in what we were doing.”

The box score last Saturday resembled one from 2010 or 2011. The team had averaged 8.2 yards per rush, had a sizable amount of their passing yards go to a tight end and they dominated the time of possession.

Feel similar to most of the games last year?

“In a sense, it did feel that way,” redshirt junior tight end Jacob Pedersen said. “Especially with how well we were running the ball.”

The weather may have had a little to do with the team only calling two pass plays in the second half, but it’s hard to believe that the team would’ve thrown in even the sunniest of conditions amid the mauling of the Purdue defensive front.

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“When you’re having success with something, why go away from it?” Pedersen said.

It appears that this offensive success can largely be attributed to first-year offensive coordinator Matt Canada as well, though.

“I think, as he has more and more success here, you’ll see that true part of him come out, very creative, and it’s not creative with a bunch of highlighters and glitter,” Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema said. “It’s about doing things that make sense.”

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