Fruehauf Going Off

Fruehauf Going Off

Story by Steve Fruehauf, Staff Writer

Saturday’s 10-7 loss to Oregon State came at the hands of a stagnant Wisconsin passing attack and a disappointing run game. The Badgers’ Montee Ball only rushed for 61 yards against the Beavers, half of what he accumulated the previous week.  He did, however, only receive around half the carries this week compared to last.

That’s not to say that Wisconsin’s aerial attack didn’t get plenty of chances. They had about 50 yards fewer passing than last game, which isn’t too bad, but completing 20 of 38 passes is awful. On top of that, their one and two wide receivers (Jared Abbrederis and Jordan Fredrick) only recorded one catch apiece, forcing junior quarterback Danny O’Brien to rely on unfamiliar faces to produce.

Junior wide receiver Jeff Duckworth, who didn’t record a single catch last week, topped the board with seven receptions for 55 yards. It was to junior tight end Jacob Pedersen that the Badgers put up their single score of the game late in the fourth quarter.

O’Brien hooked up with eight receivers altogether Saturday, six of whom caught for more than 10 yards. While the two supposed starters should worry fans when only catching one pass a game, the diversity and ability for other players to step up in their place is something that could be considered promising for the team. I believe it is.

This group lacks a standout player at the position, someone like Nick Toon of last year. I believe the coaching staff and the rest of the team are looking to Abbrederis to be that guy since he got significant reps last year, but this performance certainly didn’t cut it. He was looked to plenty in the game, and only coming down with one ball is unacceptable.

But it wasn’t the team’s lack of a superstar that lost them the game; it was their inability to put up points when it mattered. Wisconsin first reached Oregon State’s red zone late in the third quarter. They had an opportunity to score with approximately four and a half minutes left on their opponent’s 9 yard line, but O’Brien fumbled on a sack and the ball was recovered by the Beavers. They weren’t able to reach the area again until they punched into the end zone with Pedersen’s touchdown in the fourth quarter with a minute and a half left.

I don’t want to sound overly negative or positive about the Badgers’ passing game. They threw 15 more throws than last week, which I don’t like. I think if they cut down on their passes attempted and give Ball more chances to run they’ll do better. But I still believe their passing game, with the core group of guys they have can be successful within reason. It was just a bad game and they obviously have plenty of work ahead of them. Luckily, it’s early in the season and conference play hasn’t started yet.