Badgers Musings: The Embarrassment in Ann Arbor
Wisconsin Badgers had a chance to throw themselves back in the College Football Playoff hunt. In what’s being called Shakeup Saturday, four top ten teams lost and if Wisconsin could beat Michigan, they would reestablish themselves as a top ten team. What happened at Ann Arbor was a flat out disaster. Every Alex Hornibrook defender including yours truly saw their defense of him crumble into mere dust. Paul Chryst looked like a head coach who lacks the aggressive nature to be a premier college football coach. Jim Leonhard might be overrated as a defensive coordinator. All of these takes are worthy of consideration on Monday morning as Badgers fans see their team lacking any chance to make it to the playoff.
Chryst’s critical decision to not go for it on 4th and 3 – Wisconsin trails 21-7. Michigan scored 21 unanswered points, but Wisconsin moved the ball to near field goal range. Still, Wisconsin trailed by two scores in the fourth and likely needed touchdowns at that point. According to Chryst, they needed punts. He decided to punt the football down 14 in the fourth quarter. ESPN’s Chris Fowler criticized the decision-making of Chryst, which is something you do not see from the even-keeled broadcaster. It made no sense and might be the signature of play of the season.
Hornibrook was a complete tire fire – Credit to Michigan’s defensive coordinator Don Brown who had the secret sauce to fluster Hornibrook so much that Ann Arbor became his personal house of horrors. Wisconsin did nothing to adjust from his dreadful appearance against Brown’s defense two years ago. For the first time in a long time, I wondered if Jake Coan was worth a look. Badgers insiders do not think Coan is much better than Hornibrook, but the starting quarterback should be on the hot seat moving forward this season.
Are we sure Jim Leonhard is a good coach? – Remember when Dave Aranda coached against mobile quarterbacks? He shut them down. Wisconsin’s defense was so good against the spread offense under Aranda. The trend continued with Justin Wilcox and under Leonhard last year as well. Now, Michigan is a hybrid spread, and the running is more of Shea Patterson doing his best Johnny Manziel impression. Wisconsin had zero answers. Sure, D’Cota Dixon being out was a huge issue, but this team leaked oil defensively all season. They’re not the defensive juggernaut of past seasons.
Wisconsin welcomes Illinois who received a huge ass-kicking at home versus Purdue to the tune of 46-7. Wisconsin can take out their aggression on the Illini, and Jonathan Taylor will likely go off. Wisconsin should win without any problems in next week’s homecoming matchup.