Injuries, penalties plague Wisconsin

first_imgBEN CLASSON/Herald photoMichigan State’s 564 yards of total offense against Wisconsin Saturday may have been aided by the absence of Badger cornerback Jack Ikegwuonu in the secondary. After playing early on in the game, Ikegwuonu returned to the bench before ultimately returning to the locker room before the game’s end. “Jack called in sick today,” head coach Bret Bielema said. “In grade school, mom gave you a note that cleared you for the day, but there are no notes on college football Saturday. This morning when he woke up, he just didn’t feel good. He went through warm-ups and was just out of it.””He looked sick; I don’t know the prognosis, but he looked real sick, like he was weak,” safety Allen Langford said.Stepping in once again in place of the injured Ikegwuonu was freshman Aaron Henry, who struggled at times against the Spartan passing attack.”Here and there he’s going to make some freshman mistakes, which is bound to happen,” Langford said about Henry, “but for the most part, he helped us get this victory.”Also seeing extended time at cornerback was Ben Strickland. On Michigan State’s penultimate play it was Strickland who broke up the third down pass forcing MSU to go for it on fourth down.”For those guys to come out and be prepared and play well is all we can ask for,” safety Aubrey Pleasant said.Jefferson unable to return from hitWith the Badgers driving late in the first half, quarterback Tyler Donovan looked over the middle to wide receiver Kyle Jefferson, the recipient of an earlier 64-yard touchdown catch, for a short gain. Almost immediately after catching the pass though, Jefferson took a vicious hit from Spartan safety Nehemiah Warrick that knocked the ball loose and the receiver out of the game.”It was a low crossing route, and there is an option for an official on a helmet to make a call,” Bielema said of the hit. “I expressed my displeasure, but it doesn’t do me any good. The official did say, ‘If I missed it, I apologize.’”Despite staying down for a few moments, Jefferson was able to walk off the field on his own power, but was unable to return to the game.”I think he was real close to being able to get in there, but he couldn’t answer all the right questions in a short amount of time,” Bielema said. Ensuring the safety of players is the top priority for the Badger head coach.”One of the few things I can guarantee a parent when they’re sitting in my office, I always say to them I will always personally look out for the safety of your child.”Randle-El ejected in second quarterAfter a second quarter scramble by Donovan, wide receiver Marcus Randle-El got himself tangled up with Michigan State cornerback Chris Rucker and after punches were thrown both players found themselves ejected from the game. “My coaches told me their guy came after El and got the penalty, and then El went back after him, and I think they both threw punches,” Bielema said.”That was a complete lack of discipline by Marcus there, and you know Marcus is a great competitor, but the old saying in football is ‘It’s always the second man that gets caught’.”The ejection proved especially costly for the Badgers after Kyle Jefferson went down with an injury that left Wisconsin thin at the position.Penalties hold Badgers backWisconsin struggled with penalties on Saturday. The Badgers were flagged four times in the first quarter alone and finished the game with seven penalties that moved them back 49 yards, including a critical hold committed by Garrett Graham that negated a third down conversion on the Badgers final field-goal drive.”They’re there to protect the quarterback, and I’m all for that,” Bielema said of the cause of the penalties. “My hat goes off to the officials to make a couple of those calls. … They changed and impacted the game.””It’s just being smarter,” offensive lineman Kraig Urbik said. “[Penalties] kill how many plays we can do, and it limits our offense; it’s a drive killer for sure.”Penalty at goal line explainedOn the Badgers’ final scoring drive, UW was aided by a third down defensive holding call against MSU after Donovan tried to scramble for the touchdown but was stopped short. Instead of receiving an automatic first down, though, the Badgers were just given a second chance at third down. After PJ Hill was stopped for a loss, Wisconsin was forced to settle for a field goal that kept Michigan State within just three points.”If we had thrown the ball it would’ve been a first down,” Bielema explained. “[The defensive player] held Luke, which took away the pass, which kind of is disturbing to me because the reason we had to run is because he was held and we couldn’t throw the football.”last_img read more