One thing is certain about Wisconsin. They are going to run the ball. The Badgers ranked #1 in The Big Ten conference in rushing offense for 2008 averaging 212 yards a game.
Leading the way for the Badgers is 5-11/236 pound junior P.J. Hill who has rushed for 1,021 yards and 13 TDs. Hill is averaging 4.8 yards a carry. In 2008, he had five games in which he rushed for 100 yards or more.
In the last four games of the season, he had three games in which he rushed for over 100 yards. In the first game of the season against Akron he rushed for 210 yards and 2 TDs. He also has had five games in which he has scored at least 2 TDs. Hill loves playing at home in that he has scored 9 of his 13 TDs at home. He is averaging almost 18 rushing attempts per game and averaged 85.08 yards a game.
Wisconsin's other back is 6-2/237 pound freshman John Clay. Clay has rushed for 845 yards and 9 TDs and is averaging 5.9 yards a carry. Clay has had three games in which he rushed for 100 yards or more. He has had 7 games in which he has scored at least 1 TD and two games in which he has scored 2 TDs. Clay is averaging 70.42 yards a game on 12 rush attempts per game.
Clearing the way for Hill and Clay is 260-pound fullback Chris Pressley and a starting offensive line that averages 319 pounds. All five starting linemen weigh more than 300 pounds and three are seniors.
Defensive matchup: The Nole defense will have to avoid missed tackles and arm tackles will not get the job done against Wisconsin's backs. The Nole rush defense is ranked #32 in the nation allowing almost 127.58 yards a game on the ground and 12 TDs.
For the Nole defense, it starts up front with the play of defensive end Everette Brown. Brown is ranked #2 nationally for tackles with a loss with 20 1/2. Brown also has 1 fumble recovery and 3 forced fumbles.
Defensive end Neefy Moffett is also a factor with 7 tackles for a loss and is second on the team with 4 1/2 sacks. He also has 1 interception, 1 forced fumble, and 1 fumble recovery. Moffett had the interception returned for a touchdown in the Nole win over Clemson.
Nose tackle Budd Thacker and nose guard Justin Mincey will need to have a good game to contain the big Badger backs.
The Noles have a solid linebacker corps led by Derek Nicholson. Nicholson leads the Noles with 76 tackles, 15 of which are for a loss. He also has one sack and two fumble recoveries. He returned a fumble for a TD against Maryland this past Saturday.
Linebacker Toddrick Verdell is third on the team with 56 tackles, 3 sacks, and 1 interception. Dekoda Watson is fourth in tackles with 45 and 1 interception.
The Nole defense is ranked #1 in the nation in allowing opponent third down conversions with a 26.11% rate. Within the red zone, the Noles are ranked #14 nationally allowing opponents to score 73.81 % of the time.
Of the 31 scores within the red zone, the Noles have allowed opponents 18 TDs to 13 field goals.
The running game for the Noles will revolve around Antone Smith and Jermaine Thomas. For the season, Antone Smith has rushed for 753 yards and 14 TDs. Smith is averaging 4.68 yards a carry and almost 63 yards a game. Smith has had one 100 yard game when he rushed for 154 yards and 3 TDs against Colorado.
Freshman Jermaine Thomas has rushed for 478 yards and 3 TDs and is averaging 7.24 yards a carry. Thomas has had one 100 yard game against Georgia Tech when he rushed for 130 yards.
The Seminoles enter the Champ Sports Bowl against Wisconsin ranked 31st nationally in rushing offense with 183 yards per game. The Seminoles haven’t averaged 200 rushing yards per game since the 1995 season (222.8) and have averaged 200 yards or more on the ground only three times (1992, 1993 and 1995) since the 1990 season.
Defensive matchup: The Nole running game will be facing a Wisconsin defense that is ranked #42 in the nation in rushing defense allowing 133.25 yards a game and 21 TDs.
Wisconsin is dead last in their conference in tackles for a loss with 61. Defensive linemen Mike Newkirk and O'Brien Schofield are ranked #24 and #27 in the conference in tackles for a loss with 8 and 7.5 respectively.
The Badger defense is ranked #57 in the nation in allowing opponent third down conversions at a 38.01% rate. Within the red zone, Wisconsin is near the bottom of the 120 schools as they are ranked #116 nationally allowing opponents to score 92.11 % of the time.
Of the 35 scores within the red zone, the Badgers have allowed opponents 23 TDs to 12 field goals.
On paper, the Badger passing game does not seem to pose much of a threat. For Wisconsin, their leading receiver is tight end Garrett Graham who has 5 TDs and 478 reception yards. Second on the team is wide receiver David Gilreath with 515 reception yards and 3 TDs.
Defensive matchup: The Nole secondary and defense is ranked #8 nationally in pass defense. Myron Rolle, Patrick Robinson, and Tony Carter are the major players in the secondary although none have had a spectacular year.
Rolle is the second leading tackler on the team with 57 tackles but no interceptions. In fact, he has only one interception in his career at FSU. Robinson has one pick and Tony Carter has 2 for the season.
For the Noles, leading reception leader Preston Parker is probably out with an ankle injury as well as the third leading pass catcher Taiwan Easterling with a lower back injury.
That leaves Greg Carr to step up and have a good game. Carr for the season leads the receivers in yardage with 464 yards and 3 TDs. Other receivers that will have to have a good game are Bert Reed and Corey Surrency as well as Rod Owens.
Reed is the likeliest to be able to have a good game. For the year, he has 271 reception yards and 3 TDs. Surrency leads the receivers in TDs with 4 but he has been unreliable with lots of dropped balls at critical times.
Defensive matchup: The Badgers are ranked #35 nationally in pass defense allowing 189.1 yards a game.
The interception leader for the Badgers is defensive back Niles Brinkley with 4 picks. The Badgers have 12 interceptions for the year. Defensive backs Allen Langford and Niles Brinkley are ranked #2 and #3 respectively in their conference with 14 and 13 passes defended.
The signal caller for the Badgers will be junior Dustin Sherer. For the season, he has thrown for 1,257 yards, 5 TDs, and 5 interceptions. He is completing 54.3 percent of his passes. He became the Badger starting QB replacing senior Allan Evridge in mid October.
Don't look for him to be able to run or scramble. If the Noles can get to him early and often, it could be a long day for the Badgers. The Badgers average 26.4 pass attempts per game which ranks them at #7 in their conference.
Defensive matchup: The Noles are the leaders in sacks in the ACC with 36 for the season. Defensive end Everette Brown will be a force to reckon with as he will challenge the Badger offensive line and seek to make Sherer's life miserable.
The Nole linebackers and secondary will need to have a good day in shutting down the pass and particulary cover the tight ends which are the Badgers' main targets. Rolle, Robinson, and Carter need to challenge the receivers and make Sherer throw some picks.
For the Noles, Christian Ponder will be at the helm for the Noles. Ponder has had an up and down year. He has thrown for 1,807 yards, 12 TDs, and 13 interceptions. Not good when you have more picks than TDs.
In the last four games of the year, Ponder has thrown 6 interceptions while he has thrown 2 TDs. He does have an advantage in that he can run and scramble which could prove to be huge in the bowl game.
Defensive matchup: Wisconsin is next to last in sacks in their conference with 21 for the year. Defensive lineman O'Brien Schofield leads the team in sacks with 5.
If Wisconsin can get to Ponder and force him to make some interceptions, they could have a shot. The Badgers like the Noles however have not excelled in that area as they only have 12 picks for the season. (Noles have 9)
Friday, December 26, 2008
Posted by tallynolefan at 10:30 PM