November 17, 2008

Series by series: UW's defense against Minnesota

MADISON, Wis. - Led by senior defensive tackle Mike Newkirk the Wisconsin defense dominated the Minnesota offense in the second half of last Saturday's game. It was even able to put four points on the board with two safeties in a very short time span that gave the Badgers a lead that eventually led to a 35-32 victory.

The following is a look back at every defensive series of Saturday's rivalry game:


Defensive series No. 1: Started on Minnesota 30 yard line following opening kickoff.
Plays: 2
Yards given up: -7
Result: Fumble recovery

Key play: On the second play of the game, Gopher quarterback Adam Weber tried avoiding the rush but was hit and fumbled the ball during his scramble. UW's O'Brien Schofield jumped on the loose ball for the early turnover.

Defensive series No. 2: Started on Minnesota 43 yard line following kickoff. (7-0 Wisconsin)
Plays: 3
Yards Given up: 8
Result: 36-yard Justin Kucek punt.

Key play: With the ball positioned at midfield, defensive end Matt Shaughnessy broke through the Gopher line and brought its running back Shady Salamon down after a gain of only one yard. Minnesota would punt two plays later.

Defensive series No. 3: Started on Minnesota 37 yard line following Brad Nortman punt.
Plays: 3
Yards given up: 9
Result: 35-yard Kucek punt.

Key play: Jaevery McFadden stopped Weber one yard shy of the first down on the Gophers second and 12 play.

Defensive series No. 4: Started on Minnesota 20 yard line following blocked Philip Welch field goal.
Plays: 5
Yards given up: 19
Result: 45-yard Kucek punt.

Key play: On third and one, Schofield brought DeLeon Eskridge down short of the first down marker.

Second quarter:

Defensive series No. 5: Started on Wisconsin 11 yard line following John Clay fumble.
Plays: 3
Yards given up: 11
Result: Four-yard Brandon Green touchdown catch. (7-7 tie)

Key play: Facing a third and three, Weber found a wide-open Green in the end zone for the game-tying score.

Defensive series No. 6: Started on Minnesota 42 yard line following Nortman punt.
Plays: 2
Yards given up: 58
Result: 43-yard Broderick Smith touchdown catch. (14-7 Minnesota)

Key play: After Weber connected with Salamon for a 15-yard gain on the first play of the drive, he found a streaking Smith wide open down the middle of the field for an easy touchdown. It looked as though Niles Brinkley bit on the play-fake and was expecting help over the top that never came.

Defensive series No. 7: Started on Wisconsin 39 yard line following Nortman punt.
Plays: 3
Yards given up: 39
Result: Six-yard Weber touchdown run. (21-7 Minnesota)

Key play: Much like the previous drive, Weber found a receiver wide-open down the middle of the field. This time it was Green with the 37-yard catch. If Weber had put some more air under the throw it would have been an easy touchdown, but it hung up in the wind and allowed Brinkley to make the touchdown saving tackle.

Defensive series No. 8: Started on Minnesota 29 yard line following P.J. Hill fumble.
Plays: 3
Yards given up: 7
Result: 51-yard Kucek punt.

Key play: Jonathan Casillas got into the Gopher backfield and brought Salamon down short of the first down on third and two.

Defensive series No. 9: Started on Minnesota 21 yard line following Kyle Jefferson fumble.
Plays: 5
Yards given up: 29
Result: End of half

Third quarter:

Defensive series No. 10: Started on Minnesota 34 yard line following kickoff. (21-10 Minnesota)
Plays: 3
Yards given up: 0
Result: 38-yard Kucek punt.

Key play: Following Welch's field goal that gave the Badgers some momentum, the defense held the Gophers to a three-and-out.


Defensive series No. 11: Started on Minnesota 40 yard line following kickoff. (21-17 Minnesota)
Plays: 8
Yards given up: 48
Result: 30-yard Joel Monroe field goal. (24-17 Minnesota)

Key play: With the Gophers driving inside the Badger 15 yard line, the Badgers caught a break. Weber was trying to pick up the first down by throwing to Ben Kuznia but the pass went awry and Minnesota had to settle for a field goal.

Fourth quarter:

NOTE: Following the Badger game-tying touchdown, Minnesota's Troy Stoudermire fumbled out of the back of the end zone on the ensuing kickoff return. The safety gave UW the lead.

Defensive series No. 12: Started at Minnesota seven yard line following Nortman punt.
Plays: 3
Yards given up: -7
Result: Safety (28-24 Wisconsin)

Key play: Mike Newkirk sacked Weber on the first play of the drive to push the Gophers back to its own two yard line. Then, after an incomplete pass and a false start penalty, Newkirk sacked Weber again for another safety.

Defensive series No. 13: Started on Minnesota 11 yard line following Nortman punt.
Plays: 2
Yards given up: 0
Result: Fumble recovery

Key play: With all the momentum on its side, the Wisconsin defense recovered a Salamon fumble when he bobbled the option pitch from Weber.

Defensive series No. 14: Started on Minnesota 40 yard line following kickoff. (35-24 Wisconsin)
Plays: 11
Yards given up: 60
Result: 13-yard Salamon touchdown catch and one yard two-point conversion attempt. (35-32 Wisconsin)

Key play: The Gophers put together its first good drive of the second half and scored a touchdown in just under three minutes of game time. On the critical two-point conversion, UW safety Shane Carter intercepted Weber's pass, but was called offside, nullifying the result. On the ensuing attempt, Salamon rushed up the middle for the conversion that drew the Gophers within a field goal.

Defensive series No. 15: Started on Minnesota 22 yard line following Nortman punt.
Plays: 4
Yards given up: 6
Result: Brinkley interception.

Key play: With Weber desperately looking for an open receiver on fourth and four, Brinkley stepped in front his intended target and intercepted the pass that sealed the win.

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