Jesse Temple's Nov. 27 Badgers mailbag
NOV 27, 2013 8:29a ET
It's Wednesday, and that means we've got another edition of the Badgers football mailbag. Only one week remains in the regular season, and Wisconsin has an awful lot at stake in the finale against Penn State.
Before we get to the game, I took your questions on Wisconsin's curious playcalling against Minnesota, the Badgers' BCS bowl scenarios, Tanner McEvoy's future status as a safety and the most quotable players on this year's Wisconsin team (don't miss the nugget about former UW player Peter Konz, either).
If you have a question and missed out this week, we'll post a submission link Saturday night following the Badgers' senior day game with the Nittany Lions.
As always, thanks to everyone who sent in a question. Here we go:
Q: Haven't had many things about the coaching staff to complain about this year, but what the hell were they thinking when they called those ridiculous plays at the end of the first half and that fake kick or punt or whatever in the second half?
-- Bill Gailbreath, Madison, WI
A: Yep, that fake field goal decision was a real head scratcher. The play in question happened after the Badgers drove to the Gophers' 26-yard line and punter Drew Meyer (who is also the team's field goal holder) lined up behind center on fourth-and-2. The ball was snapped his way, and he threw a lateral pass to tight end Sam Arneson in the left flat. There were five Badgers players standing in front of Arneson to block, but none of the Gophers were fooled.
Arneson was supposed to throw the ball to tight end Brian Wozniak. Instead, Arneson lost seven yards on the play, and Minnesota took over on downs at Wisconsin's 32. Andersen said afterward that the play would be "scratched off the play list," and rightfully so.
As for the end of the first half, Wisconsin was somewhat up against the clock because the Badgers had only one timeout. UW faced a first-and-goal from the Minnesota 3-yard line when quarterback Joel Stave threw incomplete to Arneson. After James White ran for one yard, Wisconsin used its last timeout, and Stave was forced to throw on third down or risk his team coming up with no points.
In the end, Jack Russell drilled the 20-yard field goal and gave Wisconsin a 13-7 halftime lead. You can argue about missteps in the passing game or a botched fake field goal, but Wisconsin won the game. And, as you noted, there really haven't been too many boneheaded plays all year. Nobody's perfect, obviously, but Wisconsin is playing as good as it has all season.
Q: Would you say a BCS bowl seems pretty likely now? Where do you see them going? If Ohio State makes it to the title game, do you think the Rose Bowl would want the Badgers back for a fourth straight year? Seemed like there was some Wisconsin fatigue last year.
-- LA BADGER, Los Angeles
A: A BCS game is only likely at this point if Ohio State beats Michigan State in the Big Ten championship. Right now, Ohio State is No. 3 in the BCS rankings, while Michigan State is No. 11 and Wisconsin No. 15. If Michigan State wins, then the Spartans would be headed to the Rose Bowl as conference champions. Ohio State, with just one loss and a probable top-10 BCS spot, would get the at-large bid to another BCS game.
That would leave Wisconsin out of luck. The Badgers would probably wind up going to the Capital One Bowl, I would imagine.
If Ohio State beats Michigan State, then the Buckeyes will go to the Rose Bowl (barring a miracle situation in which they sneak into the national championship game). At that point, Wisconsin likely would jump Michigan State in the final BCS poll, giving the Badgers the at-large BCS bowl spot.
Right now, many pundits predict that if Wisconsin reaches a BCS bowl game, it will be the Orange Bowl against Clemson. I don't see a scenario in which Ohio State reaches the national championship and the Rose Bowl picks Wisconsin. Even though the Rose Bowl traditionally picks a Big Ten-Pac-12 matchup, I think the Rose Bowl would be better off with a new team and Wisconsin a new venue -- especially if it's a game as big as the Orange Bowl.
Q: Do the Badgers have to jump Michigan State to get a BCS bid?
-- Erik Buchinger (via Twitter)
A: Yes. One conference is only allowed to get two BCS bowl bids, so Michigan State would have to lose to Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game. See the previous answer for possible bowl scenarios for Wisconsin.
Q: Do you see Tanner McEvoy returning to quarterback next season? He looks pretty good at safety, and the Badgers still have two more seasons of Stave. With a little more seasoning, could McEvoy eventually be playing safety on Sundays? Thanks and keep up the most glorious work!
-- Mitch Clydeburg, Madison, WI
A: At this point, I'm just not sure it makes sense for McEvoy to go back to quarterback and duke it out with Joel Stave and Bart Houston. McEvoy is so far behind the game in that race, and he has excelled at safety. Gary Andersen hinted at as much during his weekly press conference Monday.
"As well as he's done and he continues to progress, (there's a) pretty good opportunity for him to come in as a starter and continue in that position," Andersen said of McEvoy at safety. "Or you can come in and get yourself in a quarterback battle or whatever it is. Again, we'll address it. We'll see where it is, but not until we get through the next two games."
As for playing on Sundays, there is a long way to go before anyone would make that assumption with McEvoy. But he has the body type (6-foot-6, 223 pounds), the intelligence and the athleticism to make him a very intriguing prospect to watch in the years to come.
Q: As a reporter, who do you find to be the best player on the team to interview? Who's the most insightful? Most honest? Funniest?
-- Daniel Martin, Waukesha, WI
A: Great question. Every football team usually has a go-to guy when you need a quote. Two years ago -- my first on the Wisconsin beat -- center Peter Konz was both insightful and hilarious. I remember asking Konz a question about the BCS rankings not long after Wisconsin lost that heartbreaking game to Michigan State on a Hail Mary in East Lansing and tumbled from No. 6 to No. 15.
"I don't deal with witchcraft. I don't dabble in this 'Wizardry of Hogwarts BCS School.' I don't know what that is. What, a computer can sense when a team is hot and emotions? What is this, Terminator 2?"
And that, my friend, may have one of the best answers to a question I ever heard.
As for this year's team, there isn't a guy who will make you double over with laughter like Konz. Nose guard Beau Allen can be pretty funny and, in my opinion, Brendan Kelly is always a solid quote. But there are plenty of guys who have shown a willingness to answer almost any question, and as a reporter, it is very much appreciated.
Linebacker Chris Borland is incredibly insightful when you ask him about schemes, opponents' tendencies and just about anything else. He studies so much game tape that you know he'd make a good coach if he wanted to pursue that. Safety Dezmen Southward is also an excellent quote. So are guys like Rob Havenstein, Jacob Pedersen and Ethan Armstrong. They get asked a lot of questions, and they'll never make you feel stupid for inquiring about something someone else has already asked.
I'd also like to make special mention of kicker Kyle French, who won't be with the team next season. French handled his demotion from being Wisconsin's starting kicker with class, and he took the time to answer every question I asked him during a 1-on-1 detailing his thoughts on a tough situation.
From top to bottom, this particular group has been a pleasure to work with. You can say that almost every year at Wisconsin, and I’m guessing not every program in America can make that argument.
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