Following what was perhaps the most confusing 18 seconds of its season so far, the Wisconsin football team is looking to get back in the win column as they open Big 10 play with a game against Purdue (1-2) Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium.
The Badgers (2-1) are coming off a rather puzzling loss against Arizona State, in which officials failed to spot the ball after quarterback Joel Stave took a knee and placed the ball on the ground.
The call forfeited Wisconsin’s chance to kick and walk away from Arizona State with a victory.
“There’s not a doubt in my mind that [Kyle] French makes that kick,” redshirt senior tight end Jacob Pedersen said. “You can’t change it now, but I know going forward that our team, we’re going to pull out these close games.”
Head coach Gary Andersen addressed the issue at Monday’s press conference, as well as his team’s performance.
“I’m proud of the way the kids played in Arizona,” Andersen said. “It was a very competitive football game. They played very tough, and that’s a huge positive coming off the road for the first time.”
Andersen also thought that some action should be taken in response to the officiating, albeit not by himself or his staff.
“All we’re really looking for is accountability in the situation,” Andersen said. “We were looking for an opportunity to let the kids finish the game, which has been said many times, to let them be the deciding factor. We’ll see. The Big 10 will handle it.”
Andersen also went on to say that given the opportunity, he wouldn’t have changed how the play unfolded in those final minutes.
Senior defensive end Ethan Hemer said while the outcome was ultimately not what they had wanted, the Badgers will capitalize on the lessons learned Saturday in the desert.
“We were in a position to win that game. It was a very unfortunate thing, but what are you going to do? There’s nothing more that players or coaches could have done. Now. we’ve got to put it to bed. You can’t dwell on it, but I think that this loss will fuel us for the games to come.”
During coach Andersen’s press conference, Badger media officials received a news release from Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott, reprimanding the officials in Saturday night’s game.
The statement released by Scott mentioned action and additional sanctions against officials for their part in failing “to properly administer the end of game situation and act with proper urgency on the game’s final play.”
“After a thorough review, we have determined that the officials fell short of the high standard in which Pac-12 games should be managed,” Scott said in the statement. “We will continue to work with all our officials to ensure this type of situation never occurs again.”
Andersen admitted that while the statement doesn’t change the outcome, it’s the sort of accountability that he was looking for.
When Andersen was asked if he thought the reprimanding of officials and the awaited actions was enough for him, however, he wasn’t so receptive.
“To me, personally, no,” he said. “Ideally you’d like to say, let’s go get on the airplane and go kick it and see what happens with their PAT field goal block and our PAT team. That’s not going to happen. So that’s unrealistic.”
Looking forward to Purdue, Andersen noted the team has switched to a pro-style offense under first-year head coach Darrell Hazell, a change from the spread that they’ve ran in years past.
“There’s a lot of moving pieces to the offense for a pro style offense,” Andersen said. “There’s a lot of fly sweep and the speed motions and stuff coming across, which forces you, whether you’re in man coverage or zone coverage, to roll the coverage or slide the coverage, and that comes with a lot of practice reps.”
The game against Purdue begins Saturday at 2:30 p.m., and will be broadcast on ABC.