Badgers football: Injuries, execution catch up with UW as South Carolina rallies to Capital One Bowl victory

2014-01-02T04:55:00Z Badgers football: Injuries, execution catch up with UW as South Carolina rallies to Capital One Bowl victoryTOM MULHERN | Wisconsin State Journal | | 608-252-6169

ORLANDO, Fla. — The University of Wisconsin football team did everything it could to send its seniors out on a high note against South Carolina on Wednesday in the Capital One Bowl.

But in the end, it was more disappointment for a group of seniors that was on the verge of doing great things, but couldn’t quite close the deal.

The 19th-ranked Badgers lost a bowl game for the fourth straight year and sixth time in seven years, falling to No. 8 South Carolina 34-24 in front of 56,629 fans at Citrus Bowl Stadium.

“A disappointing end to the season,” UW senior defensive tackle Ethan Hemer said. “We came so close. You could feel the momentum shift almost every play.”

The Badgers (9-4) pulled out all of the stops trying to put an end to the bowl skid. They used a fake field goal that didn’t work on their first possession and had aggressive game plans on both sides of the ball.

“We were going to be aggressive all day long,” UW coach Gary Andersen said.

It wasn’t enough to counter another talented quarterback who carved up the Badgers’ defense. Senior Connor Shaw was nearly flawless, completing 22 of 25 passes for 312 yards and three touchdowns.

Shaw also ran for a score on a 1-yard sneak and caught a 9-yard pass for a score off a reverse, accounting for five touchdowns overall.

The touchdown catch in the second quarter started as a jet sweep to the left by wide receiver Pharoh Cooper, who handed the ball to receiver Bruce Ellington going the other way. Ellington lofted the pass to a wide-open Shaw in the end zone.

“We’ve had that play in for about three years, but we don’t put it in every game,” South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said. “But this week, we were at breakfast today and I told Connor we were going to throw the one back to (him).”

But this game was not about the gadget plays that teams frequently pull out for bowl games. The Badgers fought valiantly, as they always do, and were in a position in the third quarter to take control. But they failed to make the crucial plays that have gone against these seniors so many times, leaving them searching for answers once again.

“I don’t know if it’s one thing,” senior linebacker Chris Borland said. “We’ve played well in our bowl losses. I don’t think today was a great performance, but it’s not due to a lack of preparation or effort.

“We played hard. We prepared well. I’d like to send the seniors out a better way but I can’t put my finger on exactly what we need to do better, other than execute generally.”

If Borland couldn’t pinpoint the reasons, it wasn’t hard to pick out the pivotal sequence.

UW led 17-13 in the third quarter when linebacker Derek Landisch forced a Shaw fumble. The ball appeared headed out of bounds, but safety Tanner McEvoy made a great play by flipping it back toward the field, where linebacker Ethan Armstrong recovered it at the South Carolina 31-yard line.

The Badgers failed to capitalize when they went to the Wildcat formation for the second time in the game — something they had not shown for weeks. Running back James White took a direct snap and lost 1 yard over left tackle. Jack Russell, who made 35-yard field goal on the opening drive of the second half, was wide right from 42 this time.

“Obviously, after a turnover, that’s one of our goals on offense,” McEvoy said of getting points in that situation. “It didn’t roll our way, but that doesn’t mean if we scored on that possession we would have won the game. There were a lot of things we could have done differently.”

The Gamecocks (11-2) took a 20-17 lead on the next series with a 75-yard drive. It included a fabulous catch by Ellington against senior safety Dezmen Southward on fourth-and-7. Ellington, who led South Carolina with six catches for 140 yards and two TDs, reached back with his left hand and snared the pass for a 22-yard gain.

Two plays later, Ellington beat Southward again for 22 yards and the touchdown.

“Players make plays, players win games,” Southward said. “A lot of times, we were all over those guys and they just went up and got it.”

The Badgers were still in decent shape, thanks mostly to their running game. Sophomore Melvin Gordon (143 yards) and White (107) combined for 250 rushing yards to break the all-time single-season FBS rushing record for a duo with 3,053 yards.

But on the next possession, Gordon was stopped for no gain on third-and-1, then couldn’t convert on fourth-and-inches from the South Carolina 26 when Sharrod Golightly came clean off the left edge and made the stop.

“We’re kind of upset with ourselves,” Gordon said. “When you get plays like that and you’re right there, you’ve got to make something out of those points (in the game) and we didn’t.”

After Gordon was stopped on fourth down, UW’s defense gave up yet another big play when Shaw hit Shaq Roland for a 49-yard gain against the coverage of cornerback back Sojourn Shelton and safety Mike Caputo.

Caputo appeared in perfect position to make a play but didn’t, leading to a 3-yard touchdown pass from Shaw to Jerell Adams and a 27-17 lead.

“I completely put that on me,” Caputo said. “I knew what they were running. I turned toward him. I had that deep pass. Sojourn was supposed to be where he was at. I just didn’t make a play.”

Junior Kenzel Doe got the Badgers back into the game with a 91-yard kickoff return, using a stiff-arm on Kane Whitehurst, who had a perfect angle, to go the last 30 yards and cut UW’s deficit to 27-24.

But UW quarterback Joel Stave was knocked out of the game after sustaining an injury to his right shoulder on a 5-yard scramble around right end. Stave didn’t slide on the play and was nailed by cornerback Victor Hampton.

Stave completed 9 of 13 passes for only 80 yards, with two TDs. He had a fluke interception in the first quarter when he tried to throw a screen pass into the ground and the ball bounced off the leg of right tackle Rob Havenstein and into the hands of linebacker Skai Moore. That led to the Gamecocks’ first touchdown, a 39-yard pass to Ellington on the next play.

UW sixth-year quarterback Curt Phillips, who had attempted only two passes and played in two games all season, was not sharp. He completed 7 of 12 passes for 37 yards and two interceptions.

Phillips had tight end Jacob Pedersen open in the end zone and underthrew him, with Moore getting his second interception to help seal the loss with 3 minutes, 14 seconds left.

Andersen said the loss didn’t change his feelings about the seniors, saying, “I’ll forever be indebted to those kids.”

But it was a tough way to end Andersen’s first season, which once brimmed with high expectations but ended with two straight losses.

“We can do a better job of coaching them and we’ve got to ... have some kids make some special plays, and special moments,” Andersen said. “They won nine games. They played their tails off every single week. The University of Wisconsin is unbelievably important to them. Again, I’m proud of them.”

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(44) Comments

  1. Maui Jim
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    Maui Jim - January 02, 2014 12:52 pm
    Then I repeat.....what was the reason for not giving him more playing time????????????
  2. RedPine
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    RedPine - January 02, 2014 10:43 am
    So, we are all disappointed, sad and angry. None more so than the players and coaches. Just want to say THANK YOU to the players for a very fun year of football. Sure, ups and downs and lots of emotion, but we had fun. You worked your butts off all year--we know it. We do appreciate it. Some know what it feels like when you try to get out of bed on Sunday morning. We understand what you've given. We will remember the seniors and we are already starting to talk about next season. We will be fired up.

    Thanks again. On Wisconsin.
  3. jayhoo67
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    jayhoo67 - January 02, 2014 10:32 am
    Not enough talent in the secondary to defend a top tier passing game. Shaw was great as were Ellington and Roland. Some of our play calling was curious. I thought we would sneak on that 4th and a foot. Failing to get points off those turnovers was a key to the loss. As far as our QB situation, Joel is a mid major level player and will never be more. Bart needed to be taking snaps from the first game of the season, and starting by the time we rolled into Columbus. If we don't do something with this young man, we will lose him. By the way, the new Wisconsin in the B1G is Michigan State.
  4. Maui Jim
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    Maui Jim - January 02, 2014 9:35 am
    My mistake, I thought he was redshirted last year.
  5. Ego Vigilabo Vigilum
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    Ego Vigilabo Vigilum - January 02, 2014 9:30 am
    Houston redshirted the 2012 season because of March 2012 surgery that didn't allow him to start throwing until a year ago December.

    He did get some snaps this season.

    He'll have three years of eligibility remaining when he takes the field later this year, and take the field he will!

  6. RichardSRussell
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    RichardSRussell - January 02, 2014 8:20 am
    I was hoping for the naked bootleg. It coulda been the 2nd coming of Darrell Bevell's untouched TD run into the left side of the end zone.
  7. RichardSRussell
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    RichardSRussell - January 02, 2014 8:19 am
    Actually, our DBs had the best seats in the house for some fabulous catches by the SC receivers. They were right next to the spectacular plays, in position to take advantage of the least little misstep or trajectory error, there just weren't any. And they were well coached enuf not to take out their frustrations in the form of pass interference. There's not much you can do when the other team is executing flawlessly other than applaud.
  8. RichardSRussell
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    RichardSRussell - January 02, 2014 8:16 am
    Actually, I thot that would be a swell time for a naked bootleg by the QB, since the Gamecock defense was all squeezed into the middle of the line looking for an RB up the middle. Shades of Darrell Bevell!
  9. RichardSRussell
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    RichardSRussell - January 02, 2014 8:14 am
    I believe Houston was redshirted this season, which means he's not eligible to play in an actual game, only in practice.
  10. Jocks
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    Jocks - January 01, 2014 9:23 pm
    What made Andersen think that Stave and Phillips were number one and two respectively? He should've realized at mid-season already that Stave wasn't the"one" and should've started Phillips. Phillips was rusty and ill-prepared for game situations without much playing time. Bad coaching! There is no future for Stave. Bring on Bart Houston and recruit some decent DB's!
  11. gymrat28
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    gymrat28 - January 01, 2014 8:51 pm
    Quaterback sneak anybody?
  12. gymrat28
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    gymrat28 - January 01, 2014 8:49 pm
    Players with speed like down south can't academically get into UW nor will they come and play in this weather when they can play every game in 80 degree weather. Plus there are better"incentives" in SEC.
  13. gymrat28
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    gymrat28 - January 01, 2014 8:44 pm
    Are you talking about Beilama's mistakes that won three straight conference titles?
  14. kooler
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    kooler - January 01, 2014 8:22 pm
    i never had the opportunity to get "in" on bert because barry annointed him. even though i was never sold on bert, the first time i ever saw him was at half=time of a badger bb game and he came out to exhort the fan base over a badger fb championnship.
    he came out in the kohl center wearing a sleazy sweat top and dark wrap-arounds. worse than his attire was his sleazy, narcissistic mini-rant about "his" wonderful badgers. being a badger fan and especially a bo ryan fan i wanted to puke---no, really, i wanted to puke.
    anderson, despite any deficiencies he might or might not have, i'll take him any day over bulimia (oops, a mini puke).
  15. Michael Vohland
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    Michael Vohland - January 01, 2014 8:20 pm
    I thought the Badgers played
  16. Air Tom
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    Air Tom - January 01, 2014 7:39 pm
    Injuries and execution?!? Sorry, but to me the difference was clearly that we were out coached. Twice passed on 3 and 1 and twice picked off. It seemed like we would run all over them into red zone and then pass, pass, pass. I do realize these aren't Anderson's recruits, so here's to a better year next year.
  17. Maui Jim
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    Maui Jim - January 01, 2014 7:22 pm
    I ask this question throughout this season.....why, when they were up 30+ pts. in a game didn't Anderson bring Houston in and give him some actual game experience for the time if/when Stave got hurt? It has been apparent to most for some time that Philips cannot throw the football well enough to bring the Badgers back when behind in a game and need to pass.
  18. badgerfan19
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    badgerfan19 - January 01, 2014 6:31 pm
    Tanner was not an effective safety in this game. He played too deep and too far away from the receivers. Using a db to double a WR (any) or as another pass rusher would have been more effective. Hope he gets moved back to WR, where he has major potential.

    On offence, the lack of big plays killed us. You can't run the ball effectively without big plays, as eventually you'll lose the ball on downs. Our running game (like most of the year), became ineffective when we stopped doing pre-snap shuffles, sending guys in motion and doing fake reverses. Without those, our running game becomes (relatively) easy to stuff. Deception is a huge part of football, and really we need to use more of it (like play-action and jet-sweeps). Heck, maybe even experiment with the fake jet sweep as a base offense formation. Love the hurry up drill, but that needs serious work.
  19. Ego Vigilabo Vigilum
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    Ego Vigilabo Vigilum - January 01, 2014 6:03 pm

    Anyone that bleeds Badger Red is feeling chafed now, which is to say nothing of the ones WEARING Badger Red.

    Plainly and simply they didn't play well enough to win. Bucky's secondary (with a general lack of pressure) made Shaw look like Drew Brees.

    A solid playmaker his whole time here, Dez picked the wrong time to have one of his poorest games.

    You just can't turn it over in the last 6 minutes when you're down 10. Three times? Having the opportunity TO turn it over that many times in the last 6 minutes will be a topic some other time.


    "i agree, the jury on anderson is still out. especially after the last 2 games."

    Fair enough; but with all respect I gotta ask, was your jury "in" after Bert went 12-1 his first year?

    Report Abuse
    ABDGRFN - January 01, 2014 5:59 pm
    At the begining of the year QB and DB were largely in question, at the end of the year the question appears to go unanswered. Our recruiting appears to have added quality recievers, and a promising QB, but we seem to always miss out on highly ranked DB's.
    I must also say that some of SC's pass plays were phenominal and incredibly tough to defend.
    Any way we slice it, it is the fourth straight year of a disapointing end to our season and the fourth straight long, long offseason.

    On Wisconsin!
  21. gobi
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    gobi - January 01, 2014 5:50 pm
    Our University student-athletes played hard and well. Just a couple plays short of winning the game ( and some great plays by SC) . Well done UW!
  22. badgerfan1
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    badgerfan1 - January 01, 2014 5:24 pm
    That was a critical/terrible call--to that point the Badgers were rolling. After that and they gave up the ball there was a loss of momentum. Having said that, however, once again it was the very poor defense that rerally lost the game. I do not think with our one demensional offense we could ever have kept up with their scoring with the poor defense Wisc. has.
  23. Rob Hernandez Staff
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    Rob Hernandez - January 01, 2014 5:16 pm
    Good catch. Bielema's players. Alvarez's direction. We have fixed it.
  24. bdholmes
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    bdholmes - January 01, 2014 5:12 pm
    We can't cover a deep ball...same badger d weakness as always...
  25. Buckyz
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    Buckyz - January 01, 2014 5:12 pm
    "Next level"? Sorry, but the Badgers have been trying to get to that point ever since Alvarez took over as HC.....and are still trying. Plain and appearance in the Rose Bowl (and even winning one on occasion) is the best that a Wisconsin Badger team can hope for.
  26. Norwood44
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    Norwood44 - January 01, 2014 5:09 pm
    The can pass against us. We can't pass against them. They had a solid qb. We didn't. It is difficult for the UW to recruit an elite qb when we lead the nation in rushing every year. A legit qb. better wides and db's should be on Anderson's shopping list for sure.
  27. uspotme
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    uspotme - January 01, 2014 5:05 pm
    I thought the play that turned it around was when Pederson got called for holding after being tackled by 99. Poor call. I hate how they call/don't call holding at the college and pro levels.
  28. natcheztrace
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    natcheztrace - January 01, 2014 5:03 pm
    The First Commandment for any sports reporter for the WSJ: Thou shall not take the name of St. Barry in vain.
  29. ej355
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    ej355 - January 01, 2014 5:01 pm
    Somewhat agree. I believe they did get a TD and a FG in two of those red zone trips. In regard to the missed FG, I think that the 3rd down wildcat call was far worse that the first down passing calls. At the end of the day I think everyone realizes that we simply don't have a real QB or secondary. Badgers always strike me as overachievers.
  30. GaryRobbins
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    GaryRobbins - January 01, 2014 5:01 pm
    Udub28 - you may not have liked the play call on 3rd & 1 when they passed the ball, but I hated the play call on 4th and 1, where SC had about 200 men (including the whole SC band, I think) in the box, but UW insisted on running it into that mass of humanity, instead of dinking a 5 yd pass to White just over the line-of-scrimmage. Had they made an adjustment there, White could still be running w/the ball!
  31. GaryRobbins
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    GaryRobbins - January 01, 2014 4:53 pm
    BTW - On that "game changing play" where Ellington made a great tip-and-catch on 4th & 7 for a 22 yd gain that led to a TD...Southward was right there, but watched the WR juggle the ball instead of hitting him.
    Had Southward knocked the WR like he should have, instead of watching, the WR does not make that catch, and the game is not changed in SC's favor.
    Hey Dez, hit the WR!
  32. oldtimer82
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    oldtimer82 - January 01, 2014 4:52 pm
    Hot QB+poor Pass D=BAAAd news
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    BUCKYUAZ - January 01, 2014 4:48 pm
    Recruit a new kicker, teach Melvin how to catch and hope Bart is ready.
  34. Jeff Dubay
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    Jeff Dubay - January 01, 2014 4:33 pm
    Why did Ludwig continue to call passing plays on first down when we got in the red zone. We ran the ball down their throat and then he outsmarts himself. No one is ever open and then we give SC the advantage by making it 2nd and 10. It make no sense??? They could not stop the run even remotely! Defense may have been a little better with a double digit lead in the 3rd quarter, but Ludwig play calling cost the Badgers that chance.
  35. GaryRobbins
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    GaryRobbins - January 01, 2014 4:33 pm
    A bad passing game and 4 turnovers is what cost the UW a victory.
    Terrible pass D and an almost non-existent pass O both need to be fixed next year.
    Bring on Bart Houston.
    I don't know about you, but I'm really tired of watching the Badgers crap the bed in bowl games.
  36. Bigtenwi
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    Bigtenwi - January 01, 2014 4:30 pm
    Just be thankful we aren't the Purdue or Illinois of the B1G. Quite complaining or go make you way on to the field and do what those kids do. Coaches know they aren't where we need to be w speed and athleticism like the south. Let's judge Andersen in next few years w his recruits.
  37. kooler
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    kooler - January 01, 2014 4:27 pm
    like i said in another post--which was worse, the pass defense or ludwig's play calling.
    also, bart houston must be a really, really bad qb.

    i agree, the jury on anderson is still out. especially after the last 2 games.
  38. Acapitalidea
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    Acapitalidea - January 01, 2014 4:19 pm
    Badgers have been trying unsuccessfully for years to take their game to the "next level." Always too many weaknesses to get there. If Stave is the starting QB next year I'm selling my season tickets. What a pitiful secondary. No excuses; they are just plain awful. Get a decent kicker who can consistently put the ball in the end zone and make the majority of his field goal attempts. Coach Andersen had to live with Bielema's mistakes. He'll make the necessary changes to get Wisconsin to the next level.
  39. wiscoinferno
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    wiscoinferno - January 01, 2014 4:19 pm
    Ever since Alverez retired our secondary has been bad! Bielema on a regular basis raved about how good and athletic our corners were. A couple years ago he labeled Southward as the most athletic player on the team and we all know he isn't good. Also, everytime the badgers lose they blame execution was bad on a perfect gameplan, it's a broken record.
  40. BobsYourUncle
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    BobsYourUncle - January 01, 2014 4:08 pm

    "Gary Andersen's first bowl game as University of Wisconsin football coach ended like the last three under Bret Bielema -- with a lot of questions, a lot of disappointment and a tough defeat."

    Let's not forget Barry Alvarez's bowl game last year, too!

  41. Big_Joe
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    Big_Joe - January 01, 2014 4:08 pm
    Some very questionable offensive play calling.
  42. BobsYourUncle
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    BobsYourUncle - January 01, 2014 4:06 pm

    "Gary Andersen's first bowl game as University of Wisconsin football coach ended like the last three under Bret Bielema -- with a lot of questions, a lot of disappointment and a tough defeat."

    Let's not forget Barry Alvarez's bowl game last year, too!

  43. Udub28
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    Udub28 - January 01, 2014 4:06 pm
    Did we really just pass it on 3rd and 1 yrd with a backup QB rather than run it with two of the best running backs in the B1G? Tell me I didn't see that. Please.....Anybody.
  44. badgerfan1
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    badgerfan1 - January 01, 2014 4:01 pm
    Once again the Badgers were not able to handle a team with a good offense, It was a good year but far from a great year. The jury on Anderson is still out. First we will see what kind of a recruiting class he finds and how much they contribute. I am very disappointed that they were not able to fashion a defense to stop a team with a good offense. Really they did not beat anyone of quality this year ( BYU was not anything special as it turns out). So once again we dominate the Purdues, Indianas and Illinois of the world but really can not play with the big boys successively. So we will see if they cdan find a QB and a defense next years--heres hoping.

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