October 18, 2008

Greene paces Iowa to blowout win

IOWA CITY, Ia. - Iowa running back Shonn Greene had every answer and more for a deflated Wisconsin defense Saturday afternoon. He ran over, through, and past Badger defenders to the tune of 217 yards and four touchdowns as the Hawkeyes 38-16 thrashing reclaimed the Heartland Trophy from UW.

He set the tone from the beginning with his bruising running style and never looked back. On Iowa's first possession, Greene rushed for 40 yards on five carries and scored the games opening touchdown on a 12-yard scamper off right tackle early in the first quarter.

"Like I told our coaches and our players at halftime, it's either a no gain, or a gain for 15 or a touchdown," UW's frustrated head coach Bret Bielema said following the game. "One time you're making a stop for minimal gain or he's falling ahead for 10, 12, 15 yards."

In the second quarter, Greene gave his team a 14-0 lead after he broke five Badger tackles and waltzed into the end zone much to the delight of the 70,585 fans that filled Kinnick Stadium. That play was a microcosm of developing tackling issues for UW defenders.

"I think in particular the two touchdown runs were a really poor display of tackling and support at the line of scrimmage," Bielema said.

For Wisconsin offensively, the Dustin Sherer era got off to a rocky start. In his first drive as the new starter, Sherer exclusively targeted tight end Garrett Graham, often only looking at him in his progressions. The problem was, he consistently threw behind Graham and only completed one of his four passes before UW was forced to punt.

"I didn't throw it that well all day," Sherer , who finished 17-of-34 for 161 yards and two interceptions said. "I got to fix it, there's no other way. We've just got to play better, I've got to play better."

Over the past nine quarters, UW has only been able to muster three touchdown drives. The offense has no fluid consistency mostly because unforced penalties have hampered any momentum a drive had. Saturday was no different. In total, Wisconsin was flagged seven times for 75 yards.

"It's definitely not acceptable," senior offensive lineman Andy Kemp said following the game. "Those are just little things. Those are focus, that's little details that we've been trying to correct and correct in the last few weeks. Like I said before, coaches are trying different things, disciplinary things like push-ups if the formation is screwed up or a false start.

"They're trying everything and it's on us, it's on us players."

Still, through all the mistakes and inconsistency with the ball, the Badgers were only down 14-3 at the break.

After UW forced Iowa punts in back-to-back drives to start the second half, two Philip Welch field goals trimmed the Hawkeye's lead to 14-9. However, Greene got loose once again and took an option draw 52 yards for a touchdown that opened the floodgates.

"We certainly knew at halftime there would be nothing easy about this football game," Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said following his team's win. "We lost our momentum certainly in that first part of the second half and they were gaining it.

"Shonn has been giving us a spark all season long. The guy-obviously the statistics speak for themselves."

From that point on, the Badgers were lifeless on the field. Sherer threw two interceptions to Iowa linebacker Pat Angerer, who also finished with a game high 16 tackles, to thwart any chance, or wish of a comeback. Iowa converted those turnovers into 10 points as they continued to blow open the score.

"Dustin tried to force some things in there, really pressed toward the end," Bielema said. "I did like some of the things he brought to the table, in the second half particularly, he wasn't awfully good in the first half, but some of the things that were going on weren't his fault."

In the end though, Greene was too determined to let his team lose to a stumbling Wisconsin team. His four-touchdown performance tied the school record for touchdowns in a game and was the first time an Iowa back recorded the feat since Tavian Banks did it in 1997.

"First of all, I just wanted to say great job to my offensive line, they did and incredible job," Greene said. "I think they set the tone from the start of the game and they took it all the way to the end of the game so I give all the props to them."

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