November 13, 2010

Defense stifles Chappell show

MADISON - No matter how good your offense may be, it is tough to score 83 points without a strong defensive performance.

After giving up 10 points in the first 16 minutes of the game, Wisconsin's defense stepped up and put together one of its best games of the season. Unfortunately, it will not make as many headlines as the team's record point total.

"It just allows us to play looser," said Aaron Henry. "When you know you're beating a team like that, man, you really want to go out there and make some plays. It may not be a tight game, but you can just go out there and play free."

That freedom defensively allowed the Badgers to look better against the Hoosiers offense as the game went along.

After an IU field goal tied it at 10-10 just under a minute into the second quarter, UW allowed just 10 more points the rest of the way while tallying 73 more of their own. In the fourth quarter, Henry added six points of his own.

Henry, who scored his third touchdown of the season, picked a great day to do so.

"Aaron Henry, kind of a special day for him," head coach Bret Bielema said. "His mom was here for the first time and I kind of grabbed him last night and made a big deal of it. There's such good karma and I thought this would be a special day for him. Lo and behold, he gets the pick six, so it's kind of a neat thing."

The defense made its presence felt in the second quarter, following the missed field goal from 52 yards by Indiana kicker Mitch Ewald. The defense made its presence felt in the second quarter, following the missed field goal from 52 yards by Indiana kicker Mitch Ewald. The long distance attempt was set up by Devin Smith's big tackle, which held the Hoosiers to just four yards on 3rd-and-10.

After the Badgers converted for a touchdown on a two-play drive, the Hoosiers next drive was even shorter.

As backup quarterback Edward Wright-Baker took the first snap of the drive, replacing an injured Ben Chappell, fumbled the ball away to defensive end J.J. Watt, who recovered it at the Indiana 29-yard line.

That set up another Montee Ball touchdown, giving UW a 31-10 lead. On the next drive, Wisconsin forced a three-and-out, setting up a fifth touchdown in the half.

When Indiana got the ball with 17 seconds remaining, Watt put the exclamation point on the first half with a tackle in the backfield for a four-yard loss.

"I was pretty jacked up," Watt said. "I got down to the locker room and I was dead tired. That was a mistake, I should not have run that far. But I was pretty jacked up, they gave the call that was obviously advantageous to me, I got a great TFL and really captured a lot of momentum going into the half."

With that second-quarter performance the defense gave the Badgers the opportunity to extend the game from a 10-10 tie to a 38-10 lead at the half. Coming out of the locker room, Wisconsin continued to stifle the Indiana offense.

Though they allowed Chappell to connect on 8-of-14 passes early for 63 yards and a touchdown, the Badgers shut down the Big Ten's leading passing offense, giving up just 63 yards through the air.

IU was slightly more successful on the ground, picking up 90 yards on 14 attempts. With 90 rushing yards compared to 63 passing, Saturday marked the first time this season Indiana picked up more yardage on the ground than in the air.

"It was tremendous," Henry said of shutting down the passing game. "Just coming into this year, knowing the challenge that we had ahead of us, it was just real exciting for us to go out there and perform the way that we did.

"This is a high-powered offense. They really rely on big plays, they really rely on their wide receivers, and we did a tremendous job in executing the game plan and really shutting their offense down."


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