[Note by Mike Breese, 09/09/09 12:39 AM CDT ] Please welcome Clear Visor (aka 7 for the message board faithful) as the newest member of RABA's writing team!
Heart.The one for sure characteristic you can take away from NIU on Saturday is they will play with heart. There were multiple moments late in the second and fourth quarters where the Huskies could have easily rolled over and died. Shortly after NIU forced Wisconsin's first punt late in the second quarter, Me'co Brown coughed up the ball to Wisconsin and gave them prime scoring position. A touchdown would have made it 21-6, and presented impeding doom for NIU. However, a Patrick George corner blitz forced an errant throw by Wisconsin QB Scott Tolzien, landing in the awaiting arms of Cory Hanson, and keeping it a one possession game going into the half. After a disastrous third quarter (more to come on that), Northern faced a 28-6 deficit with Wisconsin once again driving. NIU could have once again easily folded up the tents and went home, but a missed field goal by Philip Welch left the door open and the Huskies jumped on the opportunity. Chad Spann scored on 1 yard touchdown run to make the score 28-12. Then another Cory Hanson interception set up a second Spann touchdown run and the insuing two point conversation to cut the deficit to eight. NIU then recovered an onside kick only to come up just short when Harnish's pass fell incomplete. It is a sixty minute game, and NIU sent a message that you have to beat them for all sixty minutes if you want to come out with a victory.
Tackling.Wisconsin's power rushing game was negated for the most part by Northern's defense, and a big part of that was great tackling. By cutting Zach Brown and John Clay at the legs, it basically negated Clay's best asset, his power. The DB's, who admittedly struggled in pass coverage, did a great job in run support hold Clay to fewer than three yards a carry.
The Pass Defense.It is rather obvious what NIU's gameplan was on Saturday, make Wisconsin beat you through the air and Scott Tolzien obliged. Tolzien was 15/20 for 257 yards and an eighty yard touchdown on Wisconsin's first offensive possession. If Adam Weber or Daryl Clark does that to you, that is one thing, but Scott Tolzien had his scholarship pulled from Northern in favor of Billy Lowe and was known to be more of a game manager coming into the game. Nearly every time Wisconsin needed a play through the air, Tolzein made it. You can not give up a long touchdown pass on the first play of the game against anyone, much less a running team like Wisconsin. NIU got themselves in a hole early in the game and never were able to climb out of it.
The Third Quarter. And boy, was it ever ugly.
Rush Yards: 59-14
Pass Yards: 115-8
Total Yards: 174-22
1st Downs: 10-1
3rd Downs: 3/3-0/2
Time of Poss.: 12:11-2:49
Before both teams reached the locker room it was blatantly obvious what needed to happen if the Huskies were going to leave Camp Randall with a W, they needed to get a stop coming out of the half. That did not happen, instead Wisconsin marched on an 11 play, 92 yards drive culminating in a John Clay touchdown run. Northern proceeded to go three and out, and the Badgers stuck a dagger in the hearts of the Huskies by going on another 12 play touchdown drive capped off once again by a Clay touchdown.
Honorable mentioned for the ugly goes to Wisconsin women. Too much cheese and beer, not enough stair master.