The Badgers ran the ball at will against the Eagles and UW’s defense was as ferocious as usual in the win.
Before you shout at me, please keep in mind that these grades take into account “degree of difficulty.” Eastern Michigan isn’t that good, and Wisconsin should run all over them. And they did! It was great. Chez Mellusi averaged over seven yards per carry and had 100 yards before the first quarter was over. Isaac Guerendo scored an 82-yard touchdown and Jalen Berger looked solid on his 15 (what the hell?!?! EVERY GAME!) carries. True freshman Braelon Allen scored his first career touchdown and ran physically.
The offensive line only allowed one sack and paved the way for the running backs to gain 352 yards. Again, they are much bigger and better than EMU’s front seven…this was the expected outcome.
Graham Mertz looked…fine. He was fine. I’d be interested to see where all of his completions were because I don’t particularly remember any above average distance completions. I was also trying to get two kids to bed and didn’t watch every play with a veteran scout’s intensity.
Pass rush: B
Pass coverage: B
Run defense: A+
The run defense was phenomenal on Saturday night. Eastern Michigan ran the ball 18 times for 16 yards which is ::does math quickly:: 0.9 yards per carry. The Eagles’ offense features a number of players who run the ball well, including their quarterbacks, so holding them to such a paltry total is impressive.
Pass rush and pass coverage both looked pretty good. Matt Henningsen had a sweet sack and Donte Burton picked off a pass late in the game off a tipped ball. As Belz put it earlier in the week, this was a good “get right” game for the Badgers and the defense definitely took that to heart.
Special Teams: A-
Collin Larsh drilled both of his field goals, Jack Dunn and Dean Engram had nice punt returns and the coverage units were sound. The star of the show, as is often the case in the Big Ten, was punter Andy Vujnovich. He was only called upon twice, but he averaged 55.5 yards per punt (long of 61) and both of them ended up inside the 20. Just superior work from Vujnovich.
I don’t know man…I just can’t shake this feeling that Paul Chryst doesn’t have his play-calling fastball anymore. I’m sure he didn’t want to use up any great plays against a team like Eastern Michigan, but this is two weeks in a row where the play-calling, especially in the red zone, has been questionable.
That’s not even getting into the red zone execution, which has been embarrassing in the first two games this year. Chryst has actually been mostly correct on his fourth down decisions this season (yay!) but the plays he has dialed up haven’t always been the right ones.
It will be fascinating to see what new wrinkles the bye week brings to the offensive table when the Badgers take on Notre Dame in two weeks.
Overall grade: B+
Unit Grades: B+
Big plays: C+
Game Control: B+
Penalties & Discipline: C-
Guerendo’s huge touchdown run was offset in the “big play” category by Eastern Michigan returning an errant Chase Wolf pass 98 yards for a score in the fourth quarter. The Badgers also had seven penalties for 60 yards, which was twice as many as EMU and was extremely unlike them. This game never seemed out of control because, quite frankly, it was quickly apparent that EMU wouldn’t be able to move the ball against the Badgers starting defense.
Anyways, this game was just what the doctor ordered on the field. Now the Badgers have a week off to get healthy before playing the Fighting Jack Coans (who almost lost to Toledo earlier on Saturday, mind you) at Soldier Field.
Bonus grade: A+
Logan Bruss: A+
One of an offensive lineman’s main jobs is protection. Bruss did an excellent job protecting his freshman running back here and I’m sure the Badgers would take this penalty 100 times out of 100.
Hell yea Logan Bruss.
(By the way Rush walked from at least 5 yards away from the play to stomp on Allen.)
Get the hell out of here with that. pic.twitter.com/KJjxXTfwBb
— Ben Kenney (@benzkenney) September 12, 2021
EMU played a very chippy, bordering on dirty game and the only way to stop that shit sometimes is to knock someone on their ass. Good work, Logan Bruss.