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    Wednesday, December 31, 2008

    Happy New Year To All !

    Carr Hauls One In

    What better clip to end the year with than Greg Carr's great TD catch in the end zone at the end of the first half of the Champs Sports Bowl.

    Tuesday, December 30, 2008

    "... we didn't let them get in the end zone until right at the end."

    "We gave up some big plays . . . but the main thing is we didn't let them get in the end zone until right at the end."
    FSU defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews regarding the play of the Nole defense against Wisconsin as quoted in the Tallahassee Democrat

    Monday, December 29, 2008

    Making The Grade For The Champs Sports Bowl

    Noles get win number nine for first time since 2004:

    Offensive Line: The youngest line in college football was decent as they only gave up two sacks. The FSU running game had 158 yards also. This is a line that has matured over the season.
    Grade: B

    Running Game
    : FSU managed to get 158 yards rushing led by the 55 yards of Ty Jones. Antone Smith had a TD in the game also.
    Grade: B

    QB: Ponder despite a shaky first half was able to manage the game and finish with 18 of 31 for 199 yards and two touchdowns. The key stat is that he didn't throw an interception.
    Grade: B+

    Offensive Coaching: Fisher had a balanced attack as the Noles had 36 run plays and 39 pass plays. The Noles were able to make the needed adjustments at the half.
    Grade: B+

    Receivers: Greg Carr was clearly the marquee receiver for the Noles as he caught 8 balls for 78 yards and 1 TD. Ten different Noles caught at least one ball including tight end Caz Piurowski for a TD. The Nole receiving corps had 276 reception yards.
    Grade: B+

    Defense and Defensive Coaching: Mickey Andrews and his defense gave up 239 yards rushing and 1 TD through the air. Neefy Moffett forced one fumble that was a tipped pass behind the line of scrimmage that Derek Nicholson returned for a touchdown early in the second quarter. He also had a sack and three tackles for loss. The Noles had three sacks for the game and were able to make some adjustments at the half.

    Linebackers Derek Nicholson and Dekoda Watson both returned fumbles for touchdowns and Toddrick Verdell finished with a game-high 8.5 tackles, including a sack. And Nicholson recovered another fumble.

    The secondary got lucky as Wisconsin missed some open receivers and once again the Noles let a tight end get open for a big gain. However, the passing game by the Badgers was not a factor. By the way, where was Rolle and Carter?

    The defense had three fumble recoveries and some key plays that resulted in points on the board. All in all, Mickey Andrews had a decent game plan for the Badgers.
    Grade: B+

    Penalties: Noles had 7 penalties for 85 yards. What else is new?
    Grade: D

    Special teams play: Gano was the MVP of the bowl game as he punted five times and four landed inside the 20. Of those, he put three inside the Badgers’ 3-yard line. Unbelievable play by Gano.
    Grade: A

    "Money" Grabs The Grass

    1. FSU's 29 point margin of victory over Wisconsin is the largest margin in a bowl game by the Noles and surpassed the 28-3 beat down of North Carolina in the 1983 Peach Bowl.

    2. The Seminoles with their ninth win against Wisconsin accomplished a nine win season for the first time since the 2004 season.

    3. The Champs Sports Bowl set a new attendance record on Saturday and this is the fourth time in five years Florida State has helped set a new attendance record at a bowl game.

    4. Wisconsin's 42-13 loss to FSU marked the second-worst loss in UW bowl history, trailing only the 44-8 loss to Washington in the 1960 Rose Bowl.

    5. FSU controlled the clock in the game as the Noles dominated possession time 35:08 to 24:52 for Wisconsin.

    6. The man known as "Money", Graham Gano, was not only the MVP of the bowl game but also was in charge of pulling up a chunk of the grass to take back to Tallahassee and add to FSU's sod cemetery.

    Sunday, December 28, 2008

    " We didn't do anything to help that out."

    "That's probably exactly what they'll say. We didn't do anything to help that out."
    Wisconsin senior cornerback Allen Langford commenting on perception that Wisconsin was another Big Ten Conference team that couldn't compete with a speedy team from the South as quoted in Wisconsin State Journal

    TD By Carr Helps To Propel Noles To Win

    With seven seconds to go in the first half, FSU had the ball at the Wisconsin 15 yard line. On first and 10, Ponder threw to Greg Carr in the right end zone who reached up with one arm and pulled in the football as he dragged his feet inbounds for the first offensive TD of the game. The Noles led 14-3 at the end of the first half as the momentum shifted to the Noles.

    Saturday, December 27, 2008

    Noles Convert Badger Turnovers

    First Downs: FSU- 23 Wisconsin- 16

    Net Yards Rushing: FSU- 134 Wisconsin- 201

    Net Yards Passing: FSU- 276 Wisconsin- 132

    Yards Penalized: FSU- 85 Wisconsin- 25

    Third Down Conversions: FSU- 10/17 (59 %) Wisconsin- 2/10 (20 %)

    Fumbles Lost: FSU- 0 Wisconsin- 3

    Interceptions Thrown: FSU- 0 Wisconsin- 0

    Field Goals: FSU-0-0 Wisconsin- 2-2

    Noles Looking For Ninth Win Of The Season

    Kickoff: 4:36 p.m. (EST)

    : ESPN

    Announcers: Brad Nessler, Bob Griese, Paul Maguire and Holly Rowe.

    Site: Champs Sports Bowl-Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium, Orlando, Fla.

    Stadium Capacity: 65,438

    : Grass

    Coaches: Bobby Bowden is 8-4 in 2008 (381-123-4 lifetime in 33rd year at FSU) and Bret Bielema is 7-5 in 2008 (28-10 in third year at Wisconsin)

    All-Time Series: This is first game ever between FSU and Wisconsin.

    Stat that matters: Florida State has never lost a game in Orlando.

    Key Stat: Under head coach Bobby Bowden the Seminoles have lost a December Bowl Game just one time.

    Predicted Offensive and Defensive MVPs for Wisconsin and FSU: On offense for Wisconsin, look for Badger running back P.J. Hill to have a big day. On defense, corner Allen Langford could spell trouble for the Noles.

    On offense for Noles, Christian Ponder could have a break out game and put it all together. On defense, look for defensive end Everette Brown who will more than likely be playing his last game for the Noles to have a big day.

    Game Day Weather: Partly sunny. Highs in the lower 80s. Southeast winds 5 to 10 mph.

    Will Brown Deliver for Noles?

    So who are the players to watch in the FSU-Wisconsin game?

    Here are my players to watch for Wisconsin on offense:

    Dustin Sherer- How will the Badger QB handle the Nole defense and the rush by Everette Brown?

    P.J. Hill-
    The leading rusher for the Badgers could prove trouble if the Nole defense cannot limit his rushing yards.

    John Clay
    - The Badgers also have freshman running back Clay who will pose a problem for the Nole defense.

    Garrett Graham- The tight end leads the team in TDs.

    David Gilreath- The wide receiver is second on the team in TDs.

    Gabe Carimi - How will the sophomore left tackle handle Nole defensive end Everette Brown?

    On defense, here are my Badger players to watch:

    Jaevery McFadden-The linebacker leads the team in tackles with 79 tackles. He also has 2 1/2 tackles for a loss and 1 fumble recovery.

    DeAndre Levy- The Sam or strong side linebacker is second on the team in tackles with 65 and 7 1/2 tackles for a loss.

    O'Brien Schofield
    - The defensive end is the team sack leader for the Badgers with 5 sacks.

    Allen Langford
    - The senior cornerback was named the MVP for the Badgers for 2008.

    Jay Valai- The sophomore strong safety is known for his hard hitting tackles.

    Special teams:

    Philip Welch- Placekicker has been one of the Badgers' biggest surprises, making 18 of 22 field goals.

    For the Noles on offense, here are my players to watch:

    Christian Ponder- It will be critical for Ponder to manage the game and avoid mistakes.

    Antone Smith- Smith would like to have a big game to cap off his career at FSU.

    Jermaine Thomas- Thomas needs to complement Smith and gain yards in order to make Noles a threat in running game.

    Bert Reed
    - With Parker and Easterling out, Reed needs to have a big game.

    Gregg Carr- Carr would like to have a big game to cap off his career at FSU.

    On defense, Nole players to watch:

    Everette Brown- Brown needs to have the kind of game he had against Maryland.

    Derek Nicholson- Nicholson and the defense will need to stop the Badger running attack.

    Myron Rolle/Tony Carter- Will one of these guys have a break out game in their final game for the Noles?

    On special teams:

    Graham Gano
    - He is "money" and does kick offs and punting in addition to his exceptional place kicking skills.

    Michael Ray Garvin- Garvin is a speedster and leads the nation in kick off returns.

    Friday, December 26, 2008

    My Buys And Sells For Wisconsin Game

    Wisconsin Mascot- Please! Another costumed mascot that is not deserving to be on same field with Chief Osceola and Renegade. I am selling.

    Noles get at least one sack against Wisconsin- Defense needs to have a good game and shake up their QB. I think Brown will deliver. I am buying.

    Noles will hold Wisconsin to less than 100 yards rushing-Not sure that will happen given their backs and their offense that is based on the run. I am selling.

    FSU will have 100 yards or more rushing- Smith and Thomas need to have a good day. I think Smith will cap off his career with a big day. I am buying.

    FSU will have 50 yards or less in penalties- Probably not going to happen. I am selling.

    FSU gets at least one interception- Nole secondary needs to step up and make some things happen on Saturday. I am buying.

    Christian Ponder runs for at least 50 yards- I think he will be part of the running game on Saturday. I am buying.

    Gano gets at least one field goal in the game- Gano goes for more in his last game at FSU. I am buying.

    Michael Ray Garvin returns one for a TD- If he doesn't get one, he will come close. I am buying.

    Parker And Easterling Likely To Miss Bowl game

    Bobby Bowden has indicated today that receivers Preston Parker (ankle) and Taiwan Easterling (lower back injury) would likely miss the game against Wisconsin due to injury. If so, that is a big loss for the Nole receiving corps.

    Ponder's Feet Could Be Difference In Game

    Running Backs:

    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)

    Bielema Looking To Win Four In A Row

    Bret Bielema’s first two seasons as head football coach at Wisconsin were an unqualified success. During his first two years, Wisconsin was 21-5. Only two other men in Big Ten history — Michigan’s Fielding Yost (22) and Ohio State’s Jim Tressel (21) — have guided their teams to as many as 21 wins in their first two seasons as Big Ten head coaches.

    Bielema guided the Badgers to a 12-1 overall record and 7-1 mark in the Big Ten (good for a second-place tie with Michigan) during his rookie year in 2006. Wisconsin capped that record-setting season with a 17-14 win over Arkansas in the 2007 Capital One Bowl. No previous Wisconsin team had won more than 11 games in a season. In addition, Bielema became just the third rookie head coach in NCAA Bowl Subdivision history to pilot his team to 12 victories.

    In 2008, Wisconsin had high expectations which were not met. However, Bielema is still 28-10 in his first three years at Wisconsin which is not bad. The Badgers lost four in a row in 2008 before winning their last three games of the season.

    Prior to being named the head coach, Bielema was Wisconsin’s defensive coordinator in 2004 and 2005, a period in which the program produced a 19-6 record under former head coach Barry Alvarez. The 2004 Badgers were sixth nationally in scoring defense and ninth in total defense. The 2005 club, which earned Wisconsin’s first shutout since 1999, finished its 10-win season with a 24-10 victory over No. 7 Auburn in the 2006 Capital One Bowl.

    The thirty-eight year old Bielema is the fourth-youngest head coach in NCAA Bowl Subdivision football.

    Badgers Do Walk Through

    Wisconsin Athletic Communications Excerpts:

    Breakdown: With just one day left before the Champs Sports Bowl, the Badgers had a light walk through on the practice field, lasting a little more than an hour. The team wore their game jerseys with their Champs Sports Bowl patches on the fronts and shorts (no pads). The practice started with stretching and some special teams work then the offense and defense ran through some plays.

    Play of the day (offense): With not a whole lot of action during the walk through, the play of the day goes to the five offensive lineman who were playing “handball” with a football as they stretched in a circle. Basically they just hit the ball to each other to try and prevent it from going outside the circle.

    Play of the day (defense): This took place earlier in the day at the Champs Sports Bowl Kickoff Luncheon. Linebacker Elijah Hodge busted some sweet moves while Jason Chapman and Josh Neal provided the beats.

    Keeping the traditions going: Before the game, Florida State’s mascot will take the field on his horse with his spear and throw it into the ground. In turn, between the third and fourth quarters, “Jump Around” will play over the loud speakers. And, as per usual, tomorrow’s game will have Five Quarters.

    Note: For FSU fans, "Jump Around" is a Badger tradition begun in 1998. It is the playing of “Jump Around” by the House of Pain between the third and fourth quarter.

    And the Fifth Quarter is the Wisconsin band and its post-game celebration.Win or lose, fans sing, dance and cheer with the band as they play traditional favorites, like 'On, Wisconsin' and the Bud song. Gee, sounds like fun.

    Will Bucky Be Lucky For Wisconsin?

    I guess the Badger is not on the endangered species list or Wisconsin who is the leader in political correctness would not have it as their mascot. This is the Wisconsin that has a policy that they will not play any team with an Indian mascot. The only exception is in bowl games when money outweighs their political correctness.

    Bucky Badger is the official mascot of the University of Wisconsin–Madison. His full name is Buckingham U. Badger and he attends all major sporting events for the Wisconsin Badgers. Bucky was first drawn by a local Wisconsin artist in 1940. An actual badger from Eau Claire was used at the first few football games that year, but proved to be too fierce to be controlled properly and was retired to the zoo.

    After that, the school replaced the live badger with a live raccoon named Regdab ('badger' backwards). In 1949, a Bucky head-piece was created and a contest was started to properly name the mascot. Bucky wears a cardinal red and white Wisconsin sweater along with a gruff look on his face (the costumed-mascot version is decidedly cheerier, with a beaming smile).

    Noles Need To Prevent Wisconsin From Controlling The Clock

    * Stop the run and FSU probably wins.

    * Ponder needs to play smart and reduce the mental mistakes and interceptions.

    * Smith or Thomas need to have a 100 yard game.

    * Defense needs to create some key turnovers. Secondary needs to step up and make some picks.

    * Play field position football.

    * Defense needs to cover tight ends.

    * Do not allow Wisconsin to control the clock. Defense needs to stop Wisconsin from making first downs.

    * Special teams needs to make some big plays.

    Noles Look To Stay Unbeaten In Orlando

    1. Florida State has never lost a game in Orlando. FSU is 6-0-2 all-time including 2-0 in bowl games.

    2. Wisconsin is 5-2 lifetime against members of the ACC Conference.

    3. The Badgers are participating in their 14th bowl game in the past 16 seasons.

    4. The Seminole football program has done very well versus Big 10 schools posting an 8-2-1 record including a 3-1-1 record in bowl games.

    5. Under head coach Bobby Bowden the Seminoles have lost a December Bowl Game just one time. Florida State is 7-1-1.

    6. Wisconsin enters the Champs Sports Bowl having won its last three games. There are only 11 teams in the country with longer current winning streaks.

    Badgers Get Tight End Back For Bowl Game

    The Noles will have to worry about one more tight end in the bowl game. And we FSU fans know how the Nole defense has handled opponent tight ends. It was Christmas all year long with opponent tight ends as the Noles allowed the tight ends to be as open as Britney Spears getting out of a car.

    Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema said that sophomore tight end Lance Kendricks who had a broken fibula suffered against Michigan State on Nov. 1 is expected to play against the Noles on Saturday. Says Bielema, "A week ago at this time, if you asked me, I wouldn't have guessed it. .... Since we've come down here, he's been lights out, really been practicing well."

    Kendricks gives the Badgers another receiving threat. Kendricks has caught six passes for 141 yards, most of it coming in one game. He caught three passes for 94 yards in the second game against Marshall, but has missed five games overall due to injuries.

    Thursday, December 25, 2008

    " It's going to be a challenge."

    "It's going to be a challenge. But I'm looking forward to it. It's not like it's not something we've seen before."
    FSU defensive tackle Budd Thacker regarding stopping the Wisconsin running backs as quoted in the Palm Beach Post

    Wednesday, December 24, 2008

    Noles Practice Game Plan For Badgers

    FSU Sports Information Excerpts:

    Today was the last heavy work day for the Seminole football team as Wednesday usually caps off the instillation of the game plan for the weekend’s opponent. Florida State spent 18 periods practicing in the shadow of the stadium they will play in on Saturday as the final pieces were put in place for the Champs Sports Bowl. The team will spend the afternoon at Universal’s Island of Adventure and then have Christmas Eve to themselves.

    Head Coach Bobby Bowden:

    On Graham Gano being one of the guys you are really going to miss after this season:

    " Graham Gano is probably the most valuable player we’ve got right now. He’s probably the most valuable player out there right now. If you’ve got to pick one of them you hate to lose the most, he’d be a pretty good place to start.”

    LB Toddrick Verdell:

    On Wisconsin:

    “Wisconsin is a very good team, very big, very physical up front. They have good coaches and they are a pretty good team.”

    "... what is it where you warm your food? "

    "I had to get something for my wife. I got, uh, what is it where you warm your food?"
    Bobby Bowden regarding his trip to Best Buy where coaches and players got a $400 gift certificate for their participation in the Champs Sports bowl game as quoted in The Tallahassee Democrat

    Note: Coach, it is called a microwave.

    Badgers Practice In "Heat Wave"

    Wisconsin Athletic Communications Excerpts:

    Breakdown: The nice thing about playing on Saturday is that the team can lay out its schedule the same as a normal game week. With that in mind the Badgers ran through a normal Tuesday practice today, full pads, 22-periods in length. The only abnormal part was that the temps were in the low 70s, a stark contrast to the mid 30s of the last outdoor practice in Madison (prior to the Cal Poly game) and even better than the 60s we practiced in yesterday.

    Play of the day (offense): The young wide receivers seem to be carrying over their good play from the latter half of the regular season. Both Nick Toon and Isaac Anderson made several nice grabs during practice. One of Anderson’s grabs is pictured below. The two of them combined for 16 catches and 253 yards over the last two games of the regular season.

    Play of the day (defense): Defensive linemen usually don’t get to touch the ball much but today was different. The linemen knocked down several passes, with Mike Newkirk, Matt Shaughnessy and Jeff Stehle all breaking up passes.
    Return man: Tight end Lance Kendricks has practiced the last two days, his first practices since breaking his leg in the Michigan State game. He participated in all the drills today, catching a couple passes when the first-team offense went against the scout team defense.

    Noles Go All Out In Day Two Practice In Orlando

    FSU Sports Information Excerpts:

    The goal for the Seminole coaching staff going into any game is to keep the week as routine as possible. Even if the city and practice fields are different, the process stays the same. That is fairly easy to do for the Champs Sports Bowl since the game will be played on a Saturday. That meant Tuesday’s practice at McCracken Field was just like a Tuesday practice in Tallahassee. The team spent 18 periods in full pads with a majority of the time spent focused on their opponent, the Wisconsin Badgers.

    Head Coach Bobby Bowden:

    About Everette Brown being double-teamed this year:

    “You have to earn that. They’re not going to chip you unless they’re scared of you. This is his third year of playing and now it’s starting to happen to him and he’s going to find out what the real world is like. It’s a part of growing up, it’s a part of getting better and people saying we better put a couple of people on him.”

    About his friendly competition with Joe Paterno:

    “Who said it was friendly? (laughs). Well, it’s there and it’s an amazing thing. It’s something you never count on. In another words, when I got into coaching and I’m sure Joe was the same way, we didn’t say oh boy, one day I hope I win more games than anybody. All of the sudden, it’s just there. You’ve got two old men that stayed in it so long and both of them have had a lot of wins. It’s interesting. Joe doesn’t pay much attention to it. I wouldn’t lose one minute of sleep if it doesn’t end of being me.”

    Tuesday, December 23, 2008

    Badgers' Run Game Ranks High Nationally

    Rankings based on 120 teams:

    Scoring Offense: FSU- #27 Wisconsin- #42

    Passing Offense: FSU- #87 Wisconsin- #82

    Rushing Offense: FSU- #32 Wisconsin- #14

    Total Offense: FSU- #56 Wisconsin- #31

    Third Down Conversions: FSU- #28 Wisconsin- #60

    Red Zone Conversions: FSU- #17 Wisconsin- #30

    Scoring Defense: FSU- #32 Wisconsin- #63

    Rushing Defense: FSU- #33 Wisconsin- #43

    Passing Defense:FSU- #8 Wisconsin- #35

    Total Defense: FSU- #14 Wisconsin- #32

    Field Goals: FSU- #14 Wisconsin- #24

    Penalties: FSU- #114 Wisconsin- #58

    Turnover margin: FSU- #75 Wisconsin- #91

    Breaking Down The Badgers: Secondary

    The Badger secondary is highlighted by the play of senior cornerback Allen Langford and sophomore safety Jay Valai.

    Langford was named team MVP as voted on by his teammates and was also a first-team All-Big Ten selection as chosen by the media. Langford, who suffered an ACL injury late last year, ranked third in the Big Ten with 14 passes defended, including two interceptions. During conference play he tied for the league lead with 11 passes defended.

    Sophomore strong safety Jay Valai, a second-team All-Big Ten selection by the coaches, has quickly gained a reputation as a big hitter. In his first season as a starter, he tied for the Big Ten lead with three forced fumbles this season. He also put a hit on Minnesota running back Shady Salamon that knocked the “M” logo off his helmet. Valai enters the bowl game fifth on the team in tackles (52) and first in forced fumbles (three).

    For the season, the Badgers were ranked #6 in the conference in interceptions with 12 and none returned for a TD. Wisconsin corner Niles Brinkley led the team in interceptions with 4. In passes defended, Wisconsin ranked #8 in the conference for 2008. Langford and Brinkley rank #2 and #3 respectively in the conference for passes defended. Wisconsin's pass defense is ranked #4 in the conference allowing 189.1 yards a game and 13 TDs through the air.

    Wisconsin secondary depth chart:

    Left Cornerback
    29 Niles Brinkley, 5-10, 177, So.
    23 Mario Goins, 6-1, 186, Fr.

    Strong Safety
    12 Jay Valai, 5-9, 197, So.
    8 Aubrey Pleasant, 6-1, 198, Jr.

    Free Safety
    21 Chris Maragos, 6-0, 189, Jr.
    25 Shane Carter, 6-2, 202, Jr.

    Right Cornerback
    17 Allen Langford, 5-11, 189, Sr.
    10 Devin Smith, 5-11. 185, Fr.

    26 Antonio Fenelus, 5-10, 175, Fr

    Monday, December 22, 2008

    Badgers Hold First Practice In Orlando For Champs Sports Bowl

    Wisconsin Athletic Communications Excerpts:

    Breakdown: Monday’s practice was 12 periods long (5 minutes per period) under sunny skies, but a stiff breeze was present for most of practice making it a little chilly. The players were in their spiders (small shoulder pads) and helmets for the first day of work.

    Play of the Day (Offense): John Clay powered through the scout defense for a couple nice touchdown runs.

    Play of the Day (Defense): Safety Jay Valai was all over the field breaking up passes against the scout offense.

    Specials: Special teams coach(also the Head Coach)Bret Bielema spent roughly four periods Monday with the punt, punt return, kick and kick return units working on their keys for the game against Florida State.

    Noles Hold First Practice In Orlando

    FSU Sports Information Excerpts:

    Florida State football opened practice for the 2008 Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando Monday at McCracken Field in the shadow of the Citrus Bowl. The Seminoles practiced for 12 periods without pads working against the Wisconsin scout teams. The team will return to practice Tuesday morning as they continue to prepare for Saturday’s game against the Badgers.

    Head Coach Bobby Bowden:

    On what he has seen from Wisconsin:

    “I have looked at a lot of them (film on Wisconsin). They are a physical football team, very big, different from us. We are spread out more, more wide open type. They are more of a pound you football team, but they spread out a little too. They can throw the ball good too. We have had trouble with their kind of a football team, a team that runs the ball and can keep the ball. We have a hard time trying to get it away from them because of their size.”

    On his bowl experience and how they differ from one year to the next:

    “They are very much the same. It’s nice to play in different places. There have been times that we have played in the Orange Bowl a couple times in a row and also this bowl a couple times in a row. I think it’s nice; of course you would like to get to the BCS bowl game if you could, but it’s nice to get to different towns. It’s good to get back to Orlando. The first bowl game that I played in when I got to Florida State was the old Tangerine Bowl.”

    Sunday, December 21, 2008

    Badgers Lose Linebacker For Champs Sports Bowl

    ESPN is reporting that Wisconsin senior linebacker Jonathan Casillas and two other players will not play in the Champs Sports Bowl against Florida State.

    According to Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema,Casillas, sophomore wide receiver Maurice Moore and redshirt freshman quarterback James Stallons will not travel to Orlando, Fla., when the team departs Monday morning. Both Casillas and Moore recently underwent surgeries.

    Casillas was a three-year starter and ranks third on the team in tackles(62)with six tackles for loss and an interception for the 2008 seaon. According to Bielema, Casillas experienced some pain during bowl practices and underwent surgery last week.

    Junior middle linebacker Jaevery McFadden will move over to Casillas' spot on the weak side, and sophomore Culmer St. Jean is expected to start in the middle.

    Will FSU Return To Labor Day Game?

    File this under rumors but as they say it may have legs. I am seeing reports on the net that ESPN is pushing FSU and Miami to reschedule their season openers (Maine @ FSU, FAMU @ Miami) and have the Noles and Canes play on Monday night of Labor Day weekend.

    FSU-Miami was ESPN's Labor Day coverage for three seasons. Bobby Bowden has complained about starting the season with a conference opponent but the money may persuade FSU to agree to the matchup. Stay tuned.

    Saturday, December 20, 2008

    McShay's Take On Champs

    ESPN's Todd McShay weighs in on Champs Sports Bowl.

    Friday, December 19, 2008

    Noles Wrap Up Practices For 2008 In Tallahassee

    FSU Sports Information Excerpts:

    The Seminole football team opened practices for the 2008 season inside the FSU Basketball Training Facility on August 7. Almost five months later the team participated in its final practice in Tallahassee for the season.

    The team spent 18 periods continuing to prepare for the Wisconsin Badgers before breaking for the weekend. The next time the team sees each other it will be in Orlando for a Monday afternoon practice.

    Practice Highlights:

    In 11-on-11 the ends were a nightmare for the Seminole offense. Brown recorded two sacks and Markus White had a pressure. Justin Mincey also had a QB pressure working from the inside. Ponder and Reed connected for a couple completions and Weatherford hit Jermaine Thomas twice.

    The defense, especially the ends, had another great drill in 1:00. Brown had two pressures as did White. Kevin McNeil had a sack and Kendrick Stewart's pressure led to a Toddrick Verdell interception but the play was wiped out due to a penalty. Verdell also had a QB pressure. Ponder had a nice completion to Commack and also hit Carr.

    Noles Weighing Their Options

    Wide receiver Preston Parker is weighing his options by applying for a draft projection from the NFL's draft advisory committee. This is a committee that is made up of NFL general managers, personnel directors and scouts.

    The committee gives prospects an idea of where they might be selected. The deadline to declare for the 2009 NFL Draft is Jan. 15. According to Parker he is leaning toward returning next year.

    Linebacker Dekoda Watson, cornerback Patrick Robinson and defensive end Everette Brown also are weighing their options. It is a safe bet that we will see the last of Everette Brown in the Champs Sports Bowl as he is predicted to be in the top 10 of the upcoming NFL draft.

    Breaking Down The Badgers: Linebackers

    Wisconsin's linebackers are ranked first, second and third, respectively, on their team in tackles. Leading the Badgers in tackles is Jaevery McFadden who finished the season with 79 tackles. McFadden also has 2 1/2 tackles for a loss and 1 fumble recovery.

    Growing up in Riviera Beach, Florida, McFadden was a big Hurricanes fan and is eager to face the Noles in the Champs Sports Bowl. Happily for him, he won't have to wear any protective gear on his right hand, which was broken in Week 3 at Fresno State. McFadden was forced to play with a club on his hand for the next four games. He played with a soft cast against Illinois and Michigan State and then used a sleeve for the final three games of the season.

    Although he is listed on the depth charts as the middle or Mike linebacker, head coach Bret Bielema says that "Jaevery's best position might be the 'Will" or the weak-side position.

    McFadden and backup Culmer St. Jean split time in the regular-season finale against Cal Poly's triple-option attack because defensive coordinator Dave Doeren wanted to ensure he had a fresh defender in the middle.They liked what they saw from St. Jean, a sophomore. So with senior weak-side linebacker Jonathan Casillas given the day off at last Friday's practice, the No. 1 trio of linebackers featured St. Jean in the middle, McFadden on the weak side and senior DeAndre Levy on the strong side.

    Badger head coach Bret Bielema has suggested that the trio could see action in the bowl game, because the staff realizes McFadden and St. Jean could form two-thirds of the starting unit in 2009.

    DeAndre Levy at the Sam or strong side linebacker is second on the team in tackles with 65 and 7 1/2 tackles for a loss. He also has one interception and two fumble recoveries. Jonathan Casillas at Will or weak side linebacker is third on the team with 62 tackles and 6 tackles for a loss. He also has one 49 yard interception.

    Strong-side linebacker DeAndre Levy and McFadden have become symbolic of faster, more athletic linebackers that the Badgers have evolved to under Badger head coach Bret Bielema. Casillas is generally regarded as the fastest player on the team. He has made a name for himself saving touchdowns by chasing down players from behind.

    Wisconsin Linebacker Depth Chart:

    Sam Linebacker
    11 DeAndre Levy, 6-3, 228, Sr.
    42 Erik Prather, 6-3, 227, Jr.

    Mike Linebacker
    47 Jaevery McFadden, 6-3, 220, Jr.
    15 Culmer St. Jean, 6-1, 228, So.

    Will Linebacker
    2 Jonathan Casillas, 6-2, 226, Sr.
    27 Blake Sorensen, 6-1, 217, So.

    Thursday, December 18, 2008

    “So more power to him.”

    " Joe’s always in pretty dang good health, you know it. So more power to him.”
    Bobby Bowden regarding Penn State giving Joe Paterno a new three year contract as quoted in The Orlando Sentinel

    Noles Hold Next To Last Practice In Tallahassee For 2008

    FSU Sports Information Excerpts:

    There is just one more practice left in Tallahassee for the 2008 season and ironically the second-to-last practice seemed a lot like the first one in back in August. With temperatures once again above 80 degrees the Florida State football team spent 12 periods in full pads on the practice fields and then another six inside Doak Campbell Stadium.

    Head coach Bobby Bowden:

    “Well, we will go in the morning (Friday), our last practice before we send them home. I think our preparation has been good so far. The kids had a lot of enthusiasm out there today. A lot good hits, a lot of good catches out there. We had a pretty good 11-on-11 too.”

    On his biggest concern about playing Wisconsin:

    “Can we get the ball back? They are a big, strong, north-south running football team. They are kind of like Boston College. The biggest concern is if you can get the ball. They will take that stinking ball and eat up the clock.”

    LB Toddrick Verdell:

    On what the defense is working on:

    “We’re doing very good as a unit, we’ve been studying a lot of film. We’re planning on being more aggressive against [Wisconsin]. They like to pound the ball and we’ve been practicing for that.”

    On Wisconsin’s running backs:

    “We haven’t really faced an offense that likes to pound the ball. They’ve got a very talented and very big back, there smallest back is like 230 pounds so we’ve been practicing on being aggressive all week long.”

    Bostad's O Line Puts Badgers On Top In Big Ten In Rushing Offense

    Bob Bostad (pronounced BO-stad) is in his third season as an assistant coach at Wisconsin. He was named run game coordinator in February of 2007 and also became the Badgers’ offensive line coach in January of 2008 after coaching tight ends his first two seasons.

    Last season Bostad helped guide a running game that amassed 2,610 yards for an average of 200.8 per game that ranked second in the Big Ten. Wisconsin tied for the conference lead with 29 rushing touchdowns. Sophomore P.J. Hill registered his second consecutive 1,000-yard campaign, while sophomore Lance Smith and freshman Zach Brown combined to rush for 997 yards.

    In addition, Bostad-coached tight ends Travis Beckum and Garrett Graham who were the Badgers’ leading receivers. Beckum, who accumulated 982 yards on a school record-tying 75 receptions (both new records for a UW tight end), was a finalist for the John Mackey Award and a first-team All-American. Graham put up career highs of 30 catches for 328 yards and four TDs.

    For 2008 behind the offensive line, the Badgers ranked #1 in the conference in rushing offense gaining 2,544 yards, averaging 212 yards a game, and scoring 31 TDs on the ground. Bostad had the number 6 and number 7 ranked running backs in the conference in 2008. Junior P.J. Hill has rushed for 1,021 yards and 13 TDs while freshman John Clay has 845 rushing yards and 9 TDs.

    Earlier in 2008 Bostad had said that Clay was a back who ".... doesn’t fully understand protections as well as we want, but he’s a hard-nosed, downhill runner who will surprise you with how fast he is and how sudden he is." He added that "The sky is the limit for him.” Apparently with Bostad's coaching and Clays' natural ability he has become a real threat at back for the Badgers.

    Prior to coming to Wisconsin, Bostad coached the offensive line at New Mexico from 1999-2005.

    Breaking Down The Badgers: Defensive Line

    So how does the Badgers' defensive line stack up? The one thing that is evident is that the Badger defensive line has experience as opposed to the Nole offensive line it will face in the Champs Sports Bowl. Before the season began, there were high expectations due to the fact that several guys were in their third year as starters.

    Defensive tackles Jason Chapman and Mike Newkirk and defensive end Matt Shaughnessy are all seniors with left end Brent Schofield being a junior.

    The Badgers in 2008 played the 4-3 defense they've utilized for years, but injuries have limited their defensive-line depth. If FSU faces a Badger defense that plays like it did against Penn State (when the Badgers allowed 48 points) or against Cal Poly (when Wisconsin gave up 35 points), the Noles will exit the Champs Sports bowl with a smile on their face.

    The team sack leader for the Badgers is defensive end O'Brien Schofield with 5 sacks. Schofield also is second on the team in tackles for a loss with 7 1/2. Defensive end Matt Shaughnessy and right tackle Mike Newkirk both have 4 sacks.

    In addition, Newkirk leads the team in tackles for a loss with 8. Newkirk had two sacks in , including a safety in UW's 35-32 victory over Minnesota this year. Left tackle Jason Chapman also has 2 sacks and 5 tackles for a loss.

    Wisconsin's defense has allowed its opponents to convert on 38 percent of third downs this season which ranked them near the bottom at #8 in the conference. The Badgers were also next to last in the conference in sacks and were last in tackles for a loss.

    Wisconsin defensive line depth chart:

    Left End
    50 O’Brien Schofield, 6-3, 232, Jr.
    45 Dan Moore, 6-2, 280, Jr.

    Left Tackle
    91 Jason Chapman, 6-4, 285, Sr.
    95 Patrick Butrym, 6-4, 264, Fr.

    Right Tackle
    54 Mike Newkirk, 6-3, 264, Sr.
    79 Jeff Stehle, 6-6, 290, Jr.

    Right End
    92 Matt Shaughnessy, 6-6, 253, Sr.
    93 Louis Nzegwu, 6-3, 228, Fr.

    Wednesday, December 17, 2008

    Noles Get Recognized

    Nole speedster Michael Ray Garvin was named a first team All-American by Sporting News on Wednesday. Garvin previously earned All-ACC Second-Team honors as a specialist and the senior led the nation in average yards per kickoff return with a career-high 32.8 yards per return average.

    Garvin will enter Florida State’s game against Wisconsin needing only 54 yards to establish the Seminoles’ career record for kickoff return yards. Garvin has 35 career kickoff returns for 1,650 yards during in three years as the Seminoles lead kickoff return specialist.

    Garvin comes into the Champs Sports Bowl with 69 returns for 1,650 yards (23.9 yards per return) after posting a career-high 172 yards on five kickoffs in the regular season finale against Florida.

    Joining Garvin was kicker Graham Gano who was named a second team All-American. In addition, left tackle Andrew Datko earned Freshman All-America honors Tuesday from The Sporting News.

    Noles Practice In Nearly 80 Degrees Temperature

    FSU Sports Information Excerpts:

    Wednesday the Seminole football team only practiced one time and the players surely appreciated that considering temperatures reached nearly 80 degrees just a week before Christmas. The team spent 12 periods working on the practice fields before moving inside the stadium for the final six periods.

    Florida State practiced for 18 periods in full pads and spent a majority of the practice versus Wisconsin scout teams. Practice finished up with an exciting 1:00 drill. Reed dominated the drill for the offense as Ponder continually looked to the freshman. Reed hauled in three passes including holding onto one ball over the middle after a vicious hit from Myron Rolle was unable to dislodge the ball.

    Once Reed and Ponder guided the offense inside the 15, the Seminole defense stiffened. Jamie Robinson came close to an interception in the back of the endzone but was ruled just out of bounds. On fourth down from the 16 an offsides call gave the offense one last chance and Ponder took advantage finding Carr for the TD.

    " Florida State has become an also-ran...."

    "... Florida State has become an also-ran in the weak Atlantic Coast Conference."
    Tom Mulhern of the Wisconsin State Journal writing about the pairing between Wisconsin and FSU in the Champs Sports Bowl

    Note: Not sure what Tom has been sniffing but he ought to look at his pathetically weak Big Ten conference. ( Sagarin Conference Rankings has ACC #1 and Big Ten ranked #5 as reported by USAToday )

    Breaking Down The Badgers: Offensive Line

    When you look at Wisconsin's offensive line compared to the Noles' offensive line, one word comes to mind- experience. Wisconsin's offensive line features three seniors who seemingly have been starting since Ron Dayne was in the Badgers' backfield.

    All five of their starters are veterans who've seen every possible scheme, but now they will now have to deal with a Nole defense that is led by outstanding defensive end Everette Brown. Badger left tackle Gabe Carimi will probably get to know Brown very well at the Champs Sports Bowl.

    As they say, it all starts up front. Wisconsin's offensive line is loaded with experience which gives the unit the opportunity to keep the ball moving on the ground.

    Senior right guard Kraig Urbik and left guard Andy Kemp join senior right tackle Eric Vanden Heuvel to anchor the line. Sophomores John Moffit (center) and left tackle Gabe Carimi(tackle)round out the offensive line which have been a strength for the Badgers this year. 6-foot-7, 328 pound redshirt freshman Josh Oglesby has also filled in at left tackle for Carimi this year due to a knee injury.

    Eric Vandenheuvel (right tackle), Kraig Urbik (right guard) and Andy Kemp (left guard) have a total of 110 starts and over 970 pounds among them. In addition, they've been to three bowl games.

    Badger sophomore center John Moffitt is 6-foot-4 and 323 pounds, but he is agile and moves well, with some innate toughness. "I just like how you hit certain blocks, how you have to move," he said. "Maybe it just fits my body type more, the way I move."

    Moffitt started the final six games last season at guard due to injuries and this year has played at the center position. Moffitt has senior guards on either side of him, Andy Kemp to his left and Kraig Urbik to his right, who help him and call out the things they see.

    Bobby Bowden has talked about the Badgers being beefy and the offensive line definitely fits that term. The starting offensive line for Wisconsin averages 319 pounds compared to the Noles' offensive line that averages 281 pounds.

    The Badger offensive line has allowed the running game to be ranked #1 in the conference averaging 212 yards a game and 31 TDs. The line has also been solid in not allowing a lot of sacks and are ranked #4 allowing only 22 sacks on the season and averaging 1.83 sacks a game. The Badgers rank #2 in the conference in allowing tackles for a loss. On third down conversions, the Badgers rank #5 in the conference.

    Wisconsin offensive line depth chart:

    Left Tackle
    68 Gabe Carimi, 6-8, 301, So.
    67 Josh Oglesby, 6-7, 328, Fr.

    Left Guard
    75 Andy Kemp, 6-6, 315, Sr.
    70 Kevin Zeitler, 6-4, 285, Fr.

    74 John Moffi tt, 6-4, 323, So.
    60 Jake Current, 6-4, 278, Fr.

    Right Guard
    63 Kraig Urbik, 6-6, 332, Sr.
    76 Bill Nagy, 6-4, 300, So.

    Right Tackle
    71 Eric Vanden Heuvel, 6-7, 324, Sr.
    78 Jake Bscherer, 6-7, 294, Jr.

    Tuesday, December 16, 2008

    Noles Get Back To Daily Practice For Rest Of Week

    FSU Sports Information Excerpts:

    Following yesterday’s two-a-day and a hard practice today, the Seminole football team received some good news. The days of two practices are over for the week as the team will hit the fields just once a day for the next three days before breaking on Friday. The squad will reconvene in Orlando on Monday where they will hold an afternoon practice.

    Head coach Bobby Bowden:

    On what Wisconsin does that concerns him:

    “They are the opposite of Florida. Florida spreads all over the field, spreads the ball around to everybody. Wisconsin is more a Boston College type team. They line-up with seven men in the front with two big backs and pound the ball. One of your big concerns is if you can get the ball back. They get it, sit on it and eat up a lot of time.

    LB Dekoda Watson:

    On the linebackers focus against Wisconsin:

    “Everybody knows their offensive line and running backs are huge and that means our attacks are going to have to be a lot harder and more aggressive. We have to be ready to take on blockers and make sure we tackle because arm tackles are not going to be able to take [P.J. Hill] down. He’s 240 pounds, he weighs more than I do so we need to go out there and be focused on what we have to do. We have to gang tackle and take on our blockers and just be disciplined.”

    Three And Out: Wisconsin Primer

    I would like to thank Scott Tappa of BadgerCentric for answering my questions regarding Wisconsin football for "Three And Out". Scott is a former sports editor at newspapers in Fremont,Ohio, and Oshkosh, Wis., and was author of the What's on Tapp sports column for The Daily Cardinal in 1996-97. Here is Scott's take on the Badgers.

    1. Most FSU fans are not that familiar with the 2008 Wisconsin team. Can you give us a brief description of the offensive and defensive schemes that the Badgers employ.

    Wisconsin has historically been a run-first team, but offensive coordinator Paul Chryst has balanced that out. This year that didn't work out so well because of deficiencies at quarterback. Inconsistent and still-learning Dustin Sherer is our guy there now, he can make some plays with his feet but also make some really boneheaded plays.

    Our running game is powered by a huge offensive line. P.J. Hill is a three-time 1,000-yard rusher but is injury-prone. John Clay is our promising freshman who many people want to see get more carries. Florida native Zach Brown is a sometimes third down back who had 250 yards in a game last season.

    Tight end Garrett Graham is our top receiving threat, he was All-Big Ten (All-American Travis Beckum is out for the season with a broken leg). Wide receivers Nick Toon (Al's son), David Gilreath, and Isaac Anderson are young but improving. Philip Welch is our kicker, he's been steady this year on field goals but his kickoffs are on the short side.

    Our defense, long shredded by the Spread, is now better suited to defend it, with lighter defensive linemen and linebackers. Our D-Line features three seniors, two of them four-year starters, Matt Shaughnessy and Jason Chapman. No superstars, probably slightly above-average as a unit. Not much depth.

    Our linebackers are pretty quick, led by Jonathan Casillas, who makes plays sideline to sideline. Fellow outside linebacker DeAndre Levy is a strong leader and occasionally puts his hand down and rushes the passer. Middle linebacker Jae McFadden, another Florida native, has done pretty well in his first year at the position.

    Cornerback Allen Langford was our defensive MVP this year. What he lacks in physically ability and health (he blew out a knee last year) he makes up for with technique, study, and heart. The other two corners, Niles Brinkley and Mario Goins, are new and get tested a lot. The safeties are a weak spot, although little Jay Valai is a big hitter.

    2. What would you say are the major strengths and weaknesses of the team?

    Strengths: Running game when we commit to it. Using the tight end. Defending the Spread.

    : Quarterback consistency. Pass defense. Run defense against big, power running games. Kick coverage.

    3. What would you say are three keys in order for the Badgers to defeat FSU ?

    1.We need to run the ball effectively, because I'm pretty sure we won't be able to pass on you guys.

    2.Getting off the field on third down on defense. We haven't made as many of these key stops as great teams do.

    3.Kicking/return game. Gilreath had a nice year returning kicks as a freshman last year, but he hasn't had much blocking this year. As said, our kickoffs have been sort of short and punts sort of flat, tough on the coverage teams.

    Overall, our team is slightly above-average, with no really exciting wins this season. Our program's identity since its rejuvenation in the early-90s has been power running, fundamentally sound defense, and great special teams.

    This team is capable of these things, but hasn't shown them with much consistency this year. It's going to take a big effort for the Badgers to pull this one out, and while it's possible, I wouldn't say it's probable.