University of Wisconsin junior left guard Ryan Groy literally couldn't wait Saturday night for what was supposed to be the return of the team's power running game.

On the first play from scrimmage against Utah State, Groy moved before the snap — one of four false start penalties for the Badgers in their sloppy 16-14 victory.

"We were coming out, obviously, really anxious, trying to get a lot of movement, trying to get off the ball fast. ... It was kind of a rookie mistake on my part," Groy said. "I know better than that."

The Badgers' first game under new offensive line coach Bart Miller was supposed to be a return to the Wisconsin way of doing things for the offensive line, meaning a physical, downhill running game.

While UW showed parts of that, it was hard to overlook the false starts and three holding calls (one declined), as well as four failed third downs of 2 yards or less in the first half.

Center Travis Frederick and right guard Zac Matthias both had false-start and holding penalties, while tight end Brian Wozniak had the other false start and the declined holding call.

"I thought they came out and tried to play physical," Miller said of the linemen. "That was one thing I was pleased with. The effort was certainly there. We've got to finish blocks a little bit better on the back side.

"We've got to do a few things technique-wise a little different, so that we can put ourselves in those (third-down) situations to be successful. But, really, the physical play was starting to get back to what we need to be."

He spoke to reporters for the first time on Sunday afternoon, seven days after his life drastically changed with the firing of Mike Markuson.

Miller, 27, came off as confident, eager and well-spoken — not in the least bit overwhelmed about taking over what he regards as the best offensive line job in the country.

"You never want to get the position like that," Miller said. "Mike is a good guy, a guy who I worked well with, but it was a situation I was thrust into, something I dreamed about for a long time."

Miller's debut was almost sabotaged by the penalties and short-yardage breakdowns. But he vowed the line will get better in those areas.

Utah State's defense is known for tactics to draw false starts, which happened more as the game went along. Miller said he went over it during the week but should have made it a bigger focus.

"There were a couple movements, they would shoot their hands real quick," Miller said. "We'd seen a little bit of it on film and we worked it a little bit. That was on me. I should have prepped that more."

The third-and-short issues mostly came down to not getting enough movement up front.

The tone was set on the first third-and-1 when right tackle Rob Havenstein missed a block on linebacker Jake Doughty, who hit Montee Ball in the backfield, resulting in a 2-yard loss.

"That's really not his guy," Miller said. "The linebacker came up and Rob fit on him pretty well, then got kind of knocked off the block.

"We need to get more movement there. That's not anyone's fault but our own and part of the game, but we need to be able to adjust to that."

The second one featured defensive end Al Lapuaho making a nice play in the backfield because tight end Sam Arneson, who was returning from a knee injury, took him on too high.

The third was a failed third-and-goal from the 2 that bothered UW coach Bret Bielema the most, when Groy was knocked to the ground in the hole.

"Everybody's executing and we have a guy fall off a routine block and the guy makes the play," Bielema said. "It's hard to block all the guys on the field. I mean, you're going to have some guys get unblocked.

"But that's hopefully going to be at the second level. It's very frustrating to have a play call executed and have everybody blocked out the way it should be and you have a guy you're counting on to have a plus block and he doesn't hold it."

Miller said those kind of physical mistakes "are easy to fix."

"We were in position to make the play and got bumped off or whatever," he said. "The scheme is there, it works. The guys were on the right people. We just made physical mistakes at that point."

Miller knows all eyes are on him and his players, but he isn't shying away from the scrutiny. He is eager to get back to "some of the things that have made this place successful."

He challenged his players before the game to take all of the pressure on their shoulders. For the most part, he's pleased with how they responded.

"Really, we're perfectly capable," he said. "The offense is in place, the offense works, it's been proven. We've just got to make some plays, we've got to get some big hits. We'll get this thing going."

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(3) comments

Big_Joe
Big_Joe

Too early to sling the ---- at Bielema. Give him credit for being decisive in making the changes to O-Line coach and QB at halftime. What is yet to be answered is whether BB can right the ship in time to salvage the season and show that he can manage adversity, or show himself to be the clown that some fans suspect. Time will tell...

Super Chunk
Super Chunk

Surprisingly sloppy play from an O-Line that usually has a strong tradition of being among the best. Hopefully they'll get their heads in the game otherwise just wait until they actually play decent teams. This could get ugly.

Yoopermn
Yoopermn

They were sloppy, but they did just get a new philosophy 5 days prior...I'm hoping with a bit more time things will get back closer to the last couple years. Oh, and USU was a "decent" team...they just beat Utah (a decent team that just beat BYU, another decent team) and barely lost to Ohio (yet another decent team) at the last second in a bowl game last year.

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