October 20, 2009

Top plays of the first half

MADISON- Following the loss to Iowa, several players on the Wisconsin football team were split in regards to the bye week coming at a good time. Some thought it could be useful to work on problems that plagued the team in each of the past two losses. Others just wanted to get back on the field.

But, the fact remains that just past the midway point in the 2009 season, UW sits with a 5-2 record and 2-2 in league play. There have been plenty of highlights, but also some lowlights.

BadgerBlitz.com takes a look back at some of the more memorable plays and moments of the first half that was for the Badgers.

Top five plays for the good:

5.) Chris Maragos touchdown run on fake field goal at Ohio State:

After Culmer St. Jean intercepted Terrelle Pryor's pass early in the second quarter, it looked as though UW was poised to punch it in. However, after three straight plays inside the Buckeyes 15 yard line went for naught, UW head coach Bret Bielema got fancy and called a fake field goal.

Maragos, the holder, took the snap, faked the hold, got up and ran to the outside. When he got there, there was one OSU player to beat. So Maragos gave a quick stutter step, tiptoed the sideline and finally extended the ball across the pylon for the dramatic score.

4.) Philip Welch 57-yard field goal against Fresno State:

As inconsistent as he's been during the first half of the season, Welch has had some bright spots. Perhaps more than any other, his 57-yard field goal right before halftime against the Bulldogs helped UW back into the game and gave it momentum entering the second half. It was especially big after it cut the FSU lead to 21-17 considering the Bulldogs had already had leads of 14 points twice during the first half.

3.) Isaac Anderson 80-yard touchdown catch against Northern Illinois:

It would have been hard for Disney to come up with a better opening scene for Scott Tolzien during his first career start. On the first play from scrimmage to start the season, Tolzien faked the handoff and hit a streaking Anderson in stride for an easy 80-yard score.

2.) John Clay 72-yard touchdown run against Fresno State:

The Badgers were trailing 21-17 with less than six minutes to play against Fresno when Clay decided to take the game into his own hands. He took the Tolzien handoff and slipped inside Josh Oglesby's block and outran the Bulldog secondary for the 72-yard score. The exciting touchdown run gave UW the lead in a game that went back and forth throughout.

1.) Chris Maragos interception in overtime against Fresno State:

In the same game, Maragos, who had a superb start to his senior season made the play of the season to this point. Fresno State had the ball to start the second overtime frame and looked like it wasn't going to waste any time by throwing to the end zone on the first play.

On the surface it looked as though Maragos was beat on the post, but the senior made up the ground and intercepted the pass. The play gave UW the ball back and Welch would eventually make the 22-yard kick for the win.

Top five plays for the bad:

5.) Blown kickoff coverage at Ohio State:

If you had been watching Wisconsin all year, you could have seen this one coming. After UW had just cut the Buckeyes lead to 21-13, OSU senior Ray Small went virtually untouched for an easy touchdown run that squeezed any life out of Wisconsin.

4.) Zach Brown's fumble at Minnesota:

Early in the season, fumbling had been a major problem for the UW running backs. Already up 24-13, Wisconsin was driving inside the Gopher 20 yard line. On third down, UW offensive coordinator Paul Chryst dialed up a draw to Zach Brown. Brown took it to his right, but when he was hit he coughed up the ball.

Minnesota defensive back Marcus Sherels picked up the loose ball and sprinted 88 yards for the huge touchdown. The play gave Minnesota renewed life and that turned into a game that wasn't decided until 30 seconds remained.

3.) Ricky Stanzi's touchdown pass to Tony Moeaki:

The Badgers held a 10-3 lead and had a chance to get off the field on third down. But when UW sophomore cornerback Devin Smith whiffed on a blitz, Stanzi rolled to his right and floated a ball to the back corner of the end zone. Tight end Tony Moeaki finished the play with a game-tying touchdown grab.

2.) Welch's missed 38-yard field goat against Iowa:

With UW's offense incredibly stagnant and incapable of moving the ball, the Badger defense did it a favor when Chris Borland stripped Stanzi of the ball and O'Brien Schofield recovered. The offense was able to start at Iowa's 25 yard line and though it stalled right away, it still had a chance to take the lead with the field goal.

But it was at that time that Welch's inconsistencies flared up again as he missed a 38-yard field goal that gave Iowa all the momentum it needed to win the game.

1.) Tolzien's two interceptions at Ohio State:

If someone had said that the Badger defense would hold OSU to only 10 points, you would have to like the Badgers chances. But when the Buckeyes are able to score twice off of two very ill advised Tolzien interceptions, those chances are hampered greatly. And that is exactly what doomed UW in its game at the Horseshoe.

Mid-season awards:

Offensive players of the first half: John Clay and Garrett Graham
Defensive player of the first half: O'Brien Schofield
Special teams player of the first half: Chris Borland and Will Hartmann
Team MVP: O'Brien Schofield

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