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Posted on Wed, Nov 11, 2009 : 3:27 p.m.

A look at the Wisconsin football team's victory against Purdue

By Michael Rothstein

Each week, scouts get a feel for the team Michigan will face by reviewing one of their previous games. This week, I took a peek at the first half of Wisconsin's 37-0 pasting of Purdue two weeks ago.

Of course, the Boilermakers responded by beating Michigan last week.



Wisconsin running back John Clay (32) tries to break the tackle of Indiana safety Nick Polk (8) earlier this season. (Photo: Associated Press)

1-10 I-form 2 TE, 1 WR End around to the tight end Lance Kendricks left gets 21 yards. Faked to John Clay. 1-10 singleback 2 TE 1 WR Clay up the middle. 2-7 singleback 2 TE 2 WR. Clay runs left. 3-3 I-form 2 TE 1 WR. Clay runs middle to left, bowled over two Purdue defenders. 1-10 singleback 2 TE 1 WR. Clay up the middle. Good hole. 2-6 I-form 2 TE 1 WR. Clay up middle to right. 1-10 singleback 2 TE 1 WR. Montee Ball runs up middle for first down. 1-10 I-form 2 TE 1 WR. Kendricks on end around left again. Showed some speed and Purdue fell for it again. 1-GL singleback 2 TE 1 WR. Clay run middle. 2-GL I-form 2 TE 1 WR. Clay runs up middle, just short of end zone. 3-GL I-form 3 TE. Clay 1-yard touchdown run. Wisconsin 7, Purdue 0.

SECOND SERIES: 1-10 I-form 2 TE 1 WR. Scott Tolzien incomplete to Isaac Anderson, high. 2-10 I-form 2 TE 1 WR. Clay runs middle. 3-9 singleback twins left. Clay up middle. 4-5 Punt.

THIRD SERIES: 1-10 singleback 2 TE, 2 WR. David Gilreath with an end around left. 1-10 singleback 4 WR trips right. Clay up middle. 2-7 singleback 2 TE twins left. Clay runs right. 3-2 I-form 1 WR. Clay goes through hole and breaks through for 29 yards. Wisconsin had great blocking on the play. 1-10 I-Form 2 TE, 2 WR. Tolzien playaction to Kendricks for a big gain to the roll right side. 1-10 I-form 2 TE 1 WR. Ball runs up middle. Nothing. 2-11 singleback 2 TE, 2 WR. Tolzien over middle to Garrett Graham for first down. 1-10 singleback 2 TE 1 WR. Ball runs up middle. 2-9 singleback TE 3 WR. Tolzien sacked. He didn’t have much to throw to although he didn’t have a lot of time. 3-14 GUN singleback 3 WR. Tolzien over the middle to Nick Toon - son of Al Toon - incomplete. 4-14 Field goal for Welch good. Wisconsin 10, Purdue 0.

FOURTH SERIES: 1-10 I-form 2 TE, 2 WR. Isaac Anderson end around left. 1-10 singleback 2 TE 1 WR. Clay run left. 2-10 singleback trips right. Tolzien incomplete. 3-10 GUN singleback 3 WR. Tolzien to Toon over middle. 4-7 Punt.

FIFTH SERIES: 1-10 singleback 2 WR. Tolzien roll out right complete to Kendricks. 1-GL I-form 2 TE 1 WR. Clay runs right got outside almost scored. Showed patience for the hole to open. 2-GL I-form 2 TE. Clay runs up middle. Just short of end zone. 3-GL I-form 3 TE. Clay runs up middle. TOUCHDOWN. Wisconsin 17, Purdue 0.

SIXTH SERIES: 1-10 singleback 2 TE, 2 WR. Clay up middle, runs over defender. Same old, same old. 2-3 singleback 2 TE, 2 WR. Clay up the middle. 1-10 singleback 2 WR, 2 TE (that bunch formation again): Clay runs up middle. 2-8 singleback 2 WR. Tolzien to Toon out left complete. 1-10 GUN singleback 1 TE 3 WR. Tolzien SACKED. 2-14 GUN singleback 3 WR. Tolzien pressured on screen, throws incomplete. If Purdue had been more aware, it could have been picked. 3-14 GUN singleback 3 WR. Tolzien has time, throws low for Toon incomplete. 4-14 Punt.

OFFENSIVE THOUGHTS: - John Clay is a hard runner, probably the toughest running back in the Big Ten. Clay rarely gets knocked backward, and he has no problem throwing shoulders into opponents.

- When Clay gets spelled by freshman Montee Ball, Wisconsin doesn’t miss much. Ball might not be as physical, but he has more of a burst and reads holes really well. When you’re able to do that as a Wisconsin running back, with the lines the Badgers typically have, you’ll be successful.

- Not surprisingly, Wisconsin uses Clay a lot. And he never appears tired. Just keeps going no matter how often they give him the ball. He looks like an NFL back on the field with a bunch of college kids.

- The Wisconsin offensive line is big, but they are also talented. Led by right tackle Josh Ogelsby, they are able to move the line of scrimmage and dominate most defensive fronts. They also end up setting well and have the ability to get into the second tier to block, too. They created huge holes against Purdue.

- The offensive line is disciplined and smart with how it creates holes.

- Wisconsin’s rushing offense is going to cause problems for Michigan, which has allowed 4.3 yards a carry and 158.3 yards on the ground a game. The Badgers didn’t pass once on their first drive and made Purdue’s defense look a lot like Michigan did in the first half of its game against Purdue on Saturday.

- If there is one place Wisconsin may be susceptible is in pass protection. Tolzien has been sacked more than 10 times in the past three weeks. Michigan’s defensive line has shown to be able to get pressure, but if Michigan can’t put Wisconsin in passing situations, the Wolverines won’t be able to take advantage.

- Scott Tolzien is a serviceable quarterback. He isn’t particularly accurate and doesn’t look like he has a huge arm. In games Wisconsin has won, the word game manager would absolutely be applicable. Tolzien isn’t going to beat you.

- Wisconsin used the end-around a lot in the first quarter. In the first three drives of the game, the Badgers used three end-arounds, two to the tight end Lance Kendricks and another to wide receiver David Gilreath.

- Kendricks has good speed for a tight end, noticeable on the end-arounds and also runs routes well. He’s going to be a pain for Michigan, much like Tony Moeaki from Iowa.

- Wisconsin, when it does have multiple wide receivers or tight ends standing as tall wide receivers, likes to bunch them up on a side. It allows for confusion and quick passes, which could mean major problems for a Michigan team that likes to sit off the ball with its cornerbacks, safeties and linebackers.

- While Wisconsin doesn’t pass that much, it has a really good receiver in Nick Toon. Growing up in the 1980’s and early 1990’s on Long Island, I watched a lot of his father, Al Toon, become one of the greatest receivers in New York Jets history. Nick has a lot of the same qualities his father had, especially when it came to holding onto the ball after a hit and catching the ball in traffic.

DEFENSIVE THOUGHTS: - Wisconsin lines up in a 4-3.

- The Badgers’ linebackers are good in run support. They play disciplined and step up into holes that may come open. At least against Purdue, the running backs rarely got past the linebackers.

- That said, it wouldn’t surprise me if Michigan ran away from the side of O’Brien Schofield. Schofield is a talented and space-eating defensive end. Brandon Graham is better, but Schofield will create problems for the Wolverines’ offensive line. The rest of the defensive line isn’t great and when Joey Elliott passed on the first series didn’t get much pressure with a four-man rush. So they aren’t like Iowa.

- Wisconsin looked to force a turnover on the first series, collapsing to the ball after Elliott completed a pass to Kevin Smith. Smith fumbled but the Badgers had three guys on him by the time he did. They seem like a defense that runs to the ball with, again, discipline and a flurry of defenders. The play was overturned but it was a questionable call.

- Wisconsin forced a three-and-out on Purdue’s second possession. Almost had an interception on the first down, too.

- Wisconsin’s defense caught a lot of breaks with the Boilermakers dropping passes to kill drives.

- The Badgers, though, seem like they can fall for the screen when Wisconsin rushes like they did in the second quarter against Purdue. Speaking of which, Wisconsin didn’t seem to blitz all that much but when the Badgers did, they were effective coming from the middle.

- Chris Borland, a freshman, is going to be a standout linebacker. He’s able to tackle well in open space, reads the run well and began starting against Purdue.

- The Badgers’ defense read Joey Elliott well. Cornerback Devin Smith just broke on the route as Elliott threw the ball and made it look pretty easy.

SPECIAL TEAMS: - Philip Welch is OK as a kick-off specialist, but there should be opportunities for Michigan to return the ball. Combine with that, Wisconsin’s kick coverage looked very average. Darryl Stonum appeared to get a burst back last week and he could have a big day bringing back the ball.

- David Gilreath tried to make a move on his first punt return and found himself in trouble. Ended up losing yards. On another punt return, though, Gilreath showed his speed if he’s given some room. If he’s allowed to accelerate and gets a block, he could end up scoring. But Michigan’s punt coverage unit has been pretty good - and pretty quiet this year.

- Brad Nortman appeared to be a decent punter. He isn’t anything like Zoltan Mesko as far as hangtime or length, but he’s good enough for a team that likes to shorten games with the run.

- ESPN cut back to the game late but Wisconsin blocked a punt against Purdue for a touchdown. They just broke right through the middle for the block, scoop and score.

Michael Rothstein covers University of Michigan sports for He can be reached at (734) 623-2558, by e-mail at or follow along on Twitter @mikerothstein.



Thu, Nov 12, 2009 : midnight

Point of order! Michigan responded by beating themselves and losing to Purdue! We need a DO OVER. GO BLUE ALWAYS