The end of Daylight Savings Time apparently came a little late for the Wisconsin Badgers football team in yesterday’s game at Purdue.  Either the 7th ranked Badgers plane was late getting into West Lafayette or else the team decided to emulate its student section at Camp Randall because the one that showed up for the first half sure didn’t resemble the one that defeated Ohio State and Iowa in its previous two games.  It looked more like the one that struggled against the likes of the ‘state’ schools of Arizona and San Jose early in the season.

I suppose a letdown was to be expected for the Badgers coming after a week off but I thought they’d be alright when radio analyst Mike Lucas noted on the pre-game show that the Boilermakers ran a version of the ’Veer’ offense (just the mention of that still sends shivers down my spine).  Purdue showed its desperation early by attempting an on-side kick at the start of the game.  The trick failed only because of an offside penalty but the Badgers played the rest of the first half as if it had succeeded.  Purdue does have a stout front seven led by defensive lineman Ryan Kerrigan and UW’s offensive line continually stumbled against them through the first two quarters.  The Badgers’ offense didn’t show any signs of life at all until the last possession of the half when they managed a last second field goal to close the game to 10-6 going into the locker room.

The turning point came on the third play of Purdue’s opening possession of the 3rd quarter when linebacker Culmer St. Jean intercepted a pass and returned it to the Purdue 14 yard line.  Even then, things still looked dicey for the Badgers as running back John Clay got hurt converting a 4th down play inside the 10.  QB Scott Tolzien then hit WR Jared Abbrederis for a touchdown to take a 13-10 lead but with Clay out and backup James White still missing in action with a knee injury, the Badgers were once again down to 3rd string tailback Monte Ball.

No problem for Wisconsin.  As he did against the Hawkeyes, Ball once again came up big for the Badgers running for 127 yards and two TDs; one of which was a nifty, replay delayed 31 yard score on which he followed his blocking perfectly.  In all, the Badgers converted 3 second half INTs into 21 points en route to a more poll pleasing 34-14 win.

MJS Badger beat writer Jeff Potrykus wrote that ”style points become irrelevant” in his account of the game.  But for a team that has designs on a BCS bowl game, the Badgers standings in the polls would have been in serious jeopardy had they continued their lethargic play of the opening half.  Badger coach Bret Bielema said that his halftime address consisted of telling his team  ” ’We just need to go out there execute the fundamentals of what we do.’ ”.  Somehow, I suspect that his point was delivered a little more emphatically than that statement suggests.  Whatever the motivation, it was clearly a different Wisconsin team that took the field in the second half and preferably the same one we’ll see for the rest of the year.

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Green Bay Packers’ beat writer Rob Demovsky busted loose with his mid-season grades in this weekend’s Press-Gazette.   Usually, I dismiss such things as being subjective but I have to take issue with a couple of his grades regarding the team.  Demovsky grades the running backs at ‘D-plus’ and the Packers’ personnel moves as a ‘C-minus’,  ” a grade largely impacted by General Manager Ted Thompson’s unwillingness to bring in a difference-making running back to replace the injured Ryan Grant “.

Demovsky goes on to write that

“Brandon Jackson, the fourth-year pro, has been wildly inconsistent, and his 4.4-yard average on 95 carries is skewed by a 71-yard run at Washington in Week 5 and a meaningless 27-yard gain at the end of the first half last week against the Jets” .

How is this different from any other running back in the NFL?  Even Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson have their per carry averages raised by breakout runs.  If he wants to take issue with the Packers rushing attack, Demovsky should challenge the coaching staff to better take advantage of Jackson’s strengths and give him more opportunities to handle the ball.

As for Thompson’s moves, Demovsky postures that

failing to add a quality running back after Grant got hurt has crippled the offense. Thompson refused to bid enough to get former first-round draft pick Marshawn Lynch in a trade from Buffalo. Thompson’s former understudy, Seattle GM John Schneider, did it, and the Seahawks have been happy with his contributions”.

Since it would be pure conjecture to speculate on what Lynch would have done in Green Bay, let’s compare what Lynch and Jackson have actually  contributed to their respective teams.  In the 3 games that Lynch has played for the Seahawks, he’s rushed 50 times for a total of 73 yards and 1 TD; a scintillating 1.46 avg. per carry.  He’s also added 9 yards on 3 receptions.  If John Schneider’s ’happy with that contribution’, maybe it’s a good thing he left Green Bay. 

In contrast during the same 3 weeks, Jackson has run the ball 40 times for 166 yards and a TD.  By my math, that amounts to a much healthier 4.15 average per carry.  Jackson also has 92 yards on 8 receptions during that time.

For the record, I don’t have a problem with someone calling the Packers’ running game into question.  I do have a problem with a writer taking a position not substantiated by proof.  That might be okay for fans or blowhard bloggers like myself but it’s unacceptable for people charged with covering the team on a professional basis.  As UConn basketball coach Jim Calhoun once so eloquently stated, “get some facts and come back and see me”.

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Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre waited 4 years for his chance to play with wide receiver Randy Moss.  That opportunity lasted all of 4 weeks as the Vikings released Moss earlier this week. 

If it’s true that you learn from your mistakes, then Vikings head coach Brad Childress should be dynamite in his next head coaching job, assuming he ever gets another one.  Childress reportedly cut Moss without consulting owner Zygi Wilf, or anyone else in the front office, beforehand.  Maybe things have gotten so bad in the Twin Cities that Childress is trying to get himself fired.  Although ‘Chilly’ seems to think that nothing’s wrong.  When questioned about his relationship with Wilf, he replied  ”We’ve always communicated very well, and I haven’t seen any change in that.”

Childress is either in deep denial or not looking very hard.  Wilf can’t be happy about giving up a 3rd round draft pick for Moss only to have his coach give him away.  From the pre-season courtship drama with Favre to the waiver release of Moss, this season has been one disaster after another for the 2-5 Vikings.  That’s not exactly the way to endear yourself to the fans, especially for a team that for years has unsuccessfully lobbied the state of Minnesota for a new stadium.  Mike Florio of Profootballtalk.com reports that the only way Childress can save his job is if Wilf thinks the Vikings can lure Washington QB Donovan McNabb to Minneapolis next year to play for his former offensive coordinator.  But the way things are going for the Vikings, McNabb would be wise to steer clear of that team.

As for Moss himself, he’s lucky that the Titans Kenny Britt is injured or he might have passed through waivers unclaimed.  Of course, that might have allowed him to return to his ‘beloved’ Patriots, though I doubt that coach Bill Belicheck wanted him back all that much.

The best part of Moss’ release was watching Monday Night Countdown on ESPN last week.  Tom Jackson excoriated Moss, invoking his notorious ‘I’ll play when I want to’ line while Moss’ former teammate and apologist Cris Carter looked on as if Jackson had run over his dog.

On talent alone, Moss should be mentioned in the same breath with Hall of Famer Jerry Rice.  If Moss had anywhere near Rice’s drive and determination, he’d easily be the best of all time.  As it is, Moss is more reminiscent of Terrell Owens, another great receiver whose attitude kept him from fulfilling his ultimate potential.

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RANDOM SAMPLINGS:  The Milwaukee Bucks continued their early season struggles with another loss at home last night to New Orleans.  They just don’t seem to match up well with the Hornets.  On paper, the Bucks look better this year but I’m beginning to wonder if they haven’t screwed the team up with all the new acquisitions, as George Karl did years ago when getting Gary Payton and Anthony Mason…………The Milwaukee Brewers completed their managerial search by hiring California Angels bench coach Ron Roenicke.  Roenicke was probably the best fit of the candidates reported.  But it’s curious that the team retained hitting coach Dale Sveum prior to installing the new manager, yet have pitching coach Rick Peterson in limbo even though they’ve patterned their organizational pitching program after Peterson’s theories………..Freshman Badger ‘cager’ Duje Dukan may have the program’s best name since Duany Duany………..Roenicke’s hiring as manager overshadowed the Brewers release of closer Trevor Hoffman.  Hoffman was a consummate pro exuded nothing but class during a difficult last season with the team.  It will be interesting to see if he continues his career elsewhere.  The Brewers also told players Dave Bush, Craig Counsell, and Chris Capuano to field other offers, suggesting that they aren’t in the team’s future plans.  Yet Manny Parra continues to have a spot on the pitching staff………..Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the passing of longtime Reds and Tigers  manager George ’Sparky’ Anderson at age 76.  As far as I’m aware, Anderson has no Wisconsin connection but, as a baseball fan, I was frequently amused by Anderson’s grand pronouncements about his players; some of which even bordered on the truth.  Rest in peace, Sparky.

Thanks for reading.  Enjoy the rest of the weekend.  GO PACK!!!

 

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  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Packers-Therapy/113896815298853?ref=sgm Chris

    Rob Demovsky just got owned! Thanks for calling him out — he needed it. His comments were ridiculous…and disappointing for a writer of his caliber.

  • http://mike BigSnakeMan

    To be fair, it’s not just Demovsky. I’ve seen the same nonsense from some of the MJS writers.