Badger Offense to Test Buckeye Ganas

By Keith on October 13, 2010 at 4:00p

Like any person, there are things I want to do before my time ticker reads double zeros. Walking in the land of the pharaohs among the shadows the Pyramids, gawking at the Roman ruins, getting lost in the Louvre and devouring a Thurman burger are all on my list. You read that right, I still haven’t been to Thurman’s despite living all of twenty miles from the front door. And, to bring this topical, another one of my dreams is to experience the over exuberance of Jump Around in Camp Randall stadium. For a minute or two, I want to be an idiot without a conscious, full of life and watching my favorite team battle another who wants nothing more than to knock them off their top ranking, if for no other reason.

Deep down I have an unhealthy love of the way Wisconsin plays football especially on the offensive side. It’s a salt of the earth type that almost always features a talented line, a big back and an effective play action game often targeting an underrated but supremely gifted tight end. You won’t find crazy formations or passing offensive fads and, unsuprisingly, this year is no different.

Wisconsin features a script similar to last year but with a few changes. John Clay returns but he now has a really good change of pace back this year in James White. Scott Tolzien is a quarterback that Tressel gushes over, mostly because he’s the cerebral type who takes care of the ball - generally speaking - while he gives it to his teammates to do the damage. And, wrapped around this cast is an offensive strategy that will feature a couple staple plays we are sure to see Saturday night. Let’s look at each one in sharper focus:

Power with John Clay

With some similarities to our Dave play, Wisconsin enjoys running power when they feel they can. Many times it features a tight end in motion that follows a pulling guard, each clearing the path for bowling ball John Clay.

Other times, Wisconsin will use double tights in a sort of unbalanced look but not pull a guard. The offensive line is extremely physical in the drive blocking:

The key will naturally be how our defensive line plays. Last year they were able to get penetration which really disrupted Clay. If you can get him going east/west and keep him from squaring up, the defense will be in advantageous position. If Ohio State can’t do that, somewhere inside Clay’s 30lbs of excess weight is a polished running back that can punish defenses. Run blizes could be effective here so it will be interesting to see how Jim Heacock and Luke Fickell strategize.

Playaction Pass

As with any run first team, playaction is going to be a staple of the passing attack. In the clip below, Wisconsin again uses two tight ends in I-formation. Miami linebackers are leaning forward to read run but the Badger’s catch them with a simple pattern to TE Lance Kendricks. 

Ohio State is likely going to be in the same position as Miami – keying on run in hopes playaction won’t bite them. Getting a good bump on Kendricks at the line of scrimmage should prove helpful throwing off the timing and allowing our defenders to make up for any lost ground. 

Use of Tight End

We’ve already touched on Kendricks above but he’s so skilled Wisconsin involves him in many ways. First, he’s a better blocker than his size would indicated (just over 240lbs) and secondly, I envision them looking his way on key third downs as we see below:

The Badgers will align him in a variety of ways including traditional, split wide and/or bring him in motion. They will also occasionally put him in the slot which is what we saw above.

David Gilreath End Around Mania

I call it an end around but others may know it as a fly sweep. One thing is for sure, Wisconsin loves this play with WR David Gilreath. They loved it so much last year the Badgers ran it at least three times against us including on back to back plays. Three clips are below in succession. The formation varies depending on personnel but the general play is the same: 

What will be key are our defensive ends getting a good upfield push to force Gilreath to bounce higher or our corners and Star to get off blocks and make the play. At the very least, turning him inside rather than letting him get the edge is paramount.

The media is making a lot of this game being a statement opportunity for Ohio State. In some ways I agree and I can’t help but draw comparisons to the 2006 night game in Iowa City. Ohio State came in top ranked, led by a Heisman contender at quarterback and facing a team hellbent on handing them their first L. The result was a fullscale beatdown that made Bob Davie repeatedly say “Wow” and “Did you see that?” Save the unknown outcome and having Davie in the booth, all of those things are true for Saturday night. 

Obviously, I’d love to see Ohio State win another national title. Wisconsin is the next step in the process and they’ve done everything in their power to make it has hard as possible on Ohio State. After all, they have even called upon the karma of Lee Evans as the honorary captain. So, more than anything, if Tressel’s team is championship worthy, we’ll see a little Jaime Escalante from Stand and Deliver on the field. We’ll see ‘want to’. We’ll see desire. We’ll see “Ganas” from the Silver Bullets. And to start it off right, I may just head to Thurman’s Saturday afternoon.


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Matt's picture

Nice work, Keith.  Now I am even more concerned than I was before.

On defense against this talented running game, I would love to see us employ what I'd call a heavy 4-3:  Simon - Hankins - Larimore - Heyward on the d-line, but rather than Sweat at SAM (lately I've seen Sweat take bad angles on special teams and in his limited defense action), we insert Nate Williams at SAM.  Williams has already demonstrated that he has decent coverage skills and that he moves well in space.  I don't see Sweat as that much quicker than Nate, and Nate has at least 20 pounds on Sweat and a lot more physical explosiveness.  It would be interesting to watch Clay get met in the second level by a guy who is more physically powerful than he is.  Clay can typically run right over whatever LB stands in his way, and Rolle/Homan will give up at least 30 pounds to him.

I'm hopefully optimistic about this game, but I see it as a 4 quarter battle that isn't decided until the final 2 minutes.

Keith's picture

Yeah, I'd be surprised to see this a runaway by the 4th quarter.  We just need to D it up and score TDs, not FGs.

phxbuck's picture

Speaking of Sweat was it just me or did I see him miss multiple tackles during the Indiana game or is it simply my bias to wanting to originally see Sabino on the field.  I feel like he was never really in position to make a solid tackle and when he did make contact he was giving up 2-3 extra yards after the initial hit.  Did anyone else notice this??

Matt's picture

I definitely noticed his lack of impact in the Indy game.  He appeared to take bad angles of pursuit and did not have the speed to make up for his mistakes.  I recall him making a few arm tackles that were broken and required another defender to clean up the play.  Not something you expect from an OSU SAM. 

On the flip side, Storm Klein has made his presence known in the last few games, especially during Indy garbage time and on special teams.  He has good size and plays well in space; I think they should give him a look at the SAM spot. 

Natty Light's picture

i think williams is the best one on the D besides heyward.  if wisco comes out in a 2 tight 2 back, I'd like to see us in 5-2 

heyward, dex, he-ate-me, silmon, williams

homan, rolle

Buckeye Black's picture

You may want to wait for Thurman's until Sunday so you won't be in a food coma for the game.

Keith's picture

Good point. I have to take that into consideration.

slippy's picture

I'm driving in from Baltimore Fri and taking some out of towners for their first Thurmanation.  You should definitely make it down there.

dr green's picture

He has to turn into that "idiot without a conscious" somehow. It's going to be tough to watch the game with that lack of consciousness, Keith.


My name is Doc and I'm a grammar nazi.

Keith's picture

Good catch but I think it still works.  There's always going to be something wrong with my stuff, though.

Olentangy's picture

pretty funny video made by some UofW students. gotta hand it to em on this one... it's pretty legit.

How firm thy friendship


Some guy on a columnist that goes by the name KC Joyner said

One could make an almost identical argument regarding the Heisman case for Pryor.


His numbers may look gaudy at first glance, but a closer look at them and the real reasons he is among the front-runners for the award show that Pryor may be the most overrated player in college football. 

Obvious this guy is a stupid.

Matt's picture

Watching video of Boren speak with reporters, I'm somewhat surprised that he was passed over for a captaincy.  It's clear he's the leader of the offensive line.  I love Browning, but he doesn't have that same killer instinct as Boren.  I also think an ascension to captain would have spoken volumes about Boren's transfer from Rich Rod's lack of family values team; Michigan likes to portray Boren as a wimp, but he transfers to Ohio State, brings a likely all-Big 10 fullback brother with him, and becomes the best lineman on a national title contender.  It would have made for some nice history if a former Michigan starter became a captain for the Buckeyes.

ClockworkBuckeye's picture

I think the idea of Nate Williams replacing Sweat at LB for this game is perfect. I saw Mr. White Freeney roaming around back there a little against Indy and looked good. I think that gives us a bigger line up front and a bigger LB core to slow down their rushing attack, plus I don't they we lose any speed or agility at LB. I really like the sound of that, and I hope one of the defensive coaches is smarter then us and has already decided to try it. Go Bucks!

BuckeyeChief's picture

Holy crap! Somebody @ ESPN is praising Pryor!

"2014 National with it!!!"

Danny - Inside The Shoe's picture


I almost couldn't believe the title of your post when I read it.  My 9th grade Spanish class watched that movie, and ever since, whenever a situation arose in which somebody we know or some team we rooted for has needed to step up for any type of occasion, my friends and I have said they needed "the ganas".  

Jaime Escalante has been the most influential movie-teacher of our lives.  I can't believe other people have seen that movie.  Thank you for bringing it up, and especially in a way that relates to the Buckeyes.  Well done, Sir.

Keith's picture

Awesome.  Glad it made a connection with us.  I bring it up to my friends and they look at me like I'm crazy.  

Great movie and a great man.

JakeBuckeye's picture

I've just relived the horrific trials and tribulations of the 2006 Florida fiasco, 2007 LSU, 2008 shellacking at USC, the Penn State fumble 2008, the not-quite moral victory against Texas 2008, and the what-could-have-been USC 2009 all via the archives.

My stomach is now turned in a knot and I don't think I could possibly be more pumped for Wisconsin and the approaching second half of the season.

Buckeyeholicwompa's picture

I think Tress is gonna come out aggressive on offense and try to score early. Once we got points on the board and the D is holding Wisky in check, then I think we'll start chewing out the clock.


I say 31 - 17 Bucks.


Oh, and I hope Pryor jumps around the same way Malcom did in 2008.

Buckeye Scottie's picture

I have experienced the Jump Around at Camp Randall and it is pretty sweet, actually.  That whole damn stadium literally shakes.  BUT, I was the Reynolds choke-gate / Gamble-slip up game, so that put a damper on my experience.

The students were complete A-holes, for the most part (every one you pass will chant that and point in your face) and the stadium sits on Frat Row, so to and from the stadium can get interesting with all the drunks looking for a fight.

However once in the stadium, we sat in the endzone, most everyone was pretty cool.  The d-bags were for the most part out and about pre-game.  I am not joking when I say literally everyone you pass will give you the A-Hole chant and point.

I hope we don't go all 3-yds and a cloud of dust offense, as I think our 3-yd will only be about 1.5yd Sat night.  I really hope that they let Pryor run wild and we live and die on his decisions.