Wisconsin steam rolls Purdue

first_imgRAY PFEIFFER/Herald PhotoWEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Inside the Wisconsin football team’s locker room, written on the dry erase board with marker was just one thing: 1-0.While it was just the latest appearance of UW head coach Bret Bielema’s team motto, it just as well might have been the defense’s ideal goal for Purdue quarterback Curtis Painter’s stat line: one interception, zero touchdowns.”All week, that’s all we heard is how these guys are ranked top of the Big Ten in everything,” sophomore cornerback Allen Langford said. “We took it real serious as a defense to go out there and shut down a real good offense.”Having heard all week long about how dangerous and explosive the Purdue offense was, the Wisconsin defense played inspired football and shutdown the vaunted Boilermaker attack, carrying the Badgers to a 24-3 victory at Ross-Ade Stadium.”We definitely saw what they did to a lot of other teams in the Big Ten,” sophomore cornerback Jack Ikegwuonu said. “We really didn’t expect to play this well, so we are really happy and really satisfied, but we have to keep getting better.”Freshman running back P.J. Hill, held in check for most of the game, came alive in the fourth quarter and had another impressive day, rushing for 161 yards and two touchdowns.”It was a P.J. Hill game,” Bielema said when asked if it was a Ron Dayne-like effort by the freshman tailback.”That’s the mentality that the offensive line and the running backs have,” Joe Thomas said. “You can see it in their body language how they aren’t running to the ball as quick, they aren’t jogging on and off the field, they are lazing up to the line of scrimmage, you can tell they don’t really want to be out there taking a beating from P.J. anymore.”The true heroes of the game though were the Wisconsin defenders, who held a Purdue offense that was averaging over 33 points a game to just a single field goal. The output was the lowest point total by a Purdue team since 2003.”When you play a good team, you have to maximize opportunities, and they are a good football team,” Purdue head coach Joe Tiller said. “Obviously, they’re a good football team. So I think it’s a combination of them being a good football team and we needed to be perfect, and we were not.”Early on, Painter, the reigning conference Offensive Player of the Week, appeared very out of synch, consistently missing open receivers and looking uncomfortable in the pocket, which, according to Bielema, was by design.”There are two ways to attack a quarterback: physical pressure and mental pressure,” Bielema said. “We seemed to be able to create some confusion and some errant throws.””You could kind of tell he was looking bothered and getting the ball out quick, even when his receivers weren’t done with their routes he was throwing the ball, so I think he was doing a little bit too much thinking out there,” Ikegwuonu said. The UW secondary also did its job when passes were completed, holding the Boilermakers, who average 327 yards a game through the air, to only 187 passing yards. Defenders hoped that the effort might silence questions about the level of competition the Badgers have been playing this year. “You hear it: ‘UW haven’t beaten anybody, blah, blah, blah,'” senior safety Joe Stellmacher said. “We beat a team that is 5-2 today and a quality opponent on their own field, in a tough place to play.””Everyone has been down on us, saying we haven’t really faced anyone, and I just think we proved what we could do,” senior linebacker Mark Zalewski said. “They are the No. 1 offense in the conference and came out and played well.”Still, despite the outstanding defensive effort, the game was close into the third quarter as Wisconsin was unable to capitalize on opportunities, leaving points on the field. “It was a pretty sloppy game in the first half, but for them to end up with just three points, I feel we fared pretty well,” defensive tackle Jason Chapman said. One such instance came at the end of the first half when the Badgers were in striking range with the clock winding down. With 19 seconds left, quarterback John Stocco hit P.J. Hill for an 11-yard gain for a first down to stop the clock. However, when the clock restarted, the offense was sluggish getting to the line, and Stocco fumbled the ball while trying to spike it to set up a field goal attempt and time ran out. “I think they put Vaseline on the ball,” Stocco joked after the game.Coming out in the second half, Purdue looked poised to tie the score, driving down to the Wisconsin 20-yard line in eight plays. But the offense stalled and missed a 37-yard field goal, giving the Badgers an opportunity to break the game open. UW capitalized on that opportunity, piecing together a 12-play scoring drive highlighted by a 25-yard strike from Stocco to receiver Paul Hubbard on third and seven. “It was kind of a challenge for us to come out and play better in the second half, leaving points on the field,” Stocco said. “I think that pass (to Hubbard) was a turning point. We’d struggled a bit, and then to get down there and score, I think it gave us a bit of momentum.”last_img

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