So, what have we learned?
- We have a porous offensive line.
- Due in part to our porous offensive line, we have an already-inaccurate quarterback just waiting to be decapitated.
- Because of our antsy and inaccurate quarterback, we are unable to throw the long ball.
- Because we can't throw the long ball, teams are able to put 8 up front and stop the run/short pass offense that is truly all we have.
- We refuse to make any adjustments for any of this.
1. Despite early indications, the offensive line has some explainin' to do.
After NIU, we all felt the offensive line looked relatively good. Whoops. These guys should come out of the tunnel to the theme from Benny Hill. Wisconsin repeatedly ripped, swam, bull rushed, and otherwise rushed past our offensive line with the ease of a 2-ton bull passing a shitty matador.
2. Christensen is already inaccurate, and the repeated blitzing isn't helping.
Wisconsin brought the same blitz package on nearly every third down and long: Levy off the right, nickel back/safety from the left. The defensive back came clean nearly every time. The breakdown:
O30 3-6 Shotgun 3WR 4-2-5 Nickel Pass -1 Sack
Wisky brings both LBs and a DB off the corners, as a team playing a sophomore QB who can’t figure out Iowa State is wont to do. Nobody picks up Henry off the left. JC missed DJK open on the slant. Musberger says "First sack of the night for the Badgers" like a man who is expecting a lot more where that came from.
W47 3-7 Shotgun 3WR 4-2-5 Pass 0 Throw-away
Wisky shows blitz with both LB’s and the nickel back (see 3rd and 6 in the first drive; same formation, same package from Wisconsin). They bring the LB and DB off the corners (again, see 3rd and 6), and nobody picks up the nickel back Henry; Richardson (-1) sees him and starts toward the outside, but instead half-heartedly engages the end, who also eventually gets into the pocket (am I repeating myself here?) Oh, and Levy pushes Busch (-1) back into the pocket from the other side. Oh, and Casillas comes on the delayed blitz again (once Busch stays in to block) and runs right by Olsen (-1). JC rolls left for the sideline and flings it 15 rows deep before the entire state of Wisconsin takes him down. Our blitz pickup is absolutely atrocious.
I went back and looked at the next play and, while it's not included, the safety did blitz from the left:
O34 3-7 Ace 3WR 4-2-5 Pass 5 Swing pass
First off, there is no way we have enough people on the line of scrimmage at the start of this play. Wisky brings Levy off the right corner, again picked up by Richardson (+1). Despite the line holding up, JC doesn’t even bother looking downfield and dumps it into the right flat for Sims. Sandeman can’t block Casillas (as if he should ever have to). DS, who receives it three yards behind the line of scrimmage on a third and 7, doesn’t stand a chance. He’s dragged out of bounds at the 39, 2 yards short.
O18 2-11 I FB-L 4-3 (S up) Pass 9 In
Pleasant blitzes from the right and Levy from the left. AY steps up to pick up the LB, and Pleasant comes untouched. Unfortunately, he’s an idiot and decides to hurdle JC rather than tackle him; he also grabs 15 yards worth of facemask. JC has just enough time to throw to Myers, who incredibly makes the catch.
W49 3-10 Ace 3WR 3-3-5 Pass -2 Sack
Wisconsin shows blitz with all 3 LBs and the nickel back (again). They bring Levy from the right edge, Henry from the left, and Casillas up the middle. Sims picks up Levy, but Henry comes untouched (again). JC runs into his wall of blockers for reasons passing understanding, and the Badgers tear him limb from limb in a sick pile of cheese-laden humanity.
W14 3-10 Shotgun 3WR 3-3-5 Pass -5 Sack
Wisconsin again shows blitz with 3 LBs and the nickel back. They bring Levy from the left, Henry from the right, and Casillas up the middle (just like they did on every other third and long), and Henry is untouched (just like he was on every other third and long). By the time JC picks up the guy coming to take off his head, it's too late. It's called an adjustment, KOK. Even mediocre coaches make one when the opponent runs the SAME BLITZ PACKAGE ON EVERY FUCKING THIRD DOWN.
Every single one of those was a passing down. Every single one of those came with the defensive back showing blitz. And in every single one of those, save for one, the running back picked up the blitz to the right and left the defensive back from the left untouched into the backfield.
That wasn't all. Wisconsin blitzed constantly through the first half (strangely, they backed off considerably in the second half). Jake repeatedly threw early and high. Part of this may be due to his height, but a large part of it stems from the fact he had to throw the ball before Anthony Pleasant turned him into sod.
3. JC Won't Fly Too Close to the Sun
Look, the receiver corps lack of speed doesn't help, but JC is ridiculously inaccurate long. Part of it is lack of practice; we have thrown exactly 5 long passes this season(by my thoroughly inaccurate count, made worse by the fact that I was completely bombed during Syracuse). We have completed zero. But part of it has to be put on a quarterback who threw two long passes against Wisconsin, both with plenty of protection, neither of which was within 5 yards of the intended receivers. Why would a defensive coordinator planning for Iowa leave the safeties back? There is no threat deep. None.
4. Bring Up the Safeties
Wisconsin brought up a safety on 20 of 61 plays, with interesting results:
Iowa offensive plays from scrimmage: 61
Wisconsin put 8 in the box: 20 (10 runs/10 passes by Iowa on these plays)
Avg. run against 8: 0.9 YPP
Avg. pass against 8: 6.3 YPP
So, given those results, why don't we pass when the safety comes up?
5. Ken O'Keefe: The Donald Rumsfeld Strategy
When things aren't working, just give it more time, right? Eventually, we'll win, won't we? How could our initial strategy be wrong? I'm a freakin' genius, after all.
Everyone knows KOK's love of the run (especially the zone run), and everyone knows our two best offensive players are both running backs, but the results here are ridiculous. Wisconsin ran the modern-day equivalent of the Buddy Ryan 46 defense against us, and our response was the status quo, even when the status quo was clearly not working.
KOK was considered a genius when he would lull Big Blue to sleep with an ineffective run game, then unleash hell from the arm of Nathan Chandler. Now, he lulls us to sleep with the running game, only to continue singing the lullaby. And any improvement will have to start with the offensive line, where the third-highest paid coach in college football is supposed to be the expert.
Let's go, Kirk. We're waiting.