Originally written September 09, 2012 on Fox Sports Wisconsin:
MADISON, Wis. Matt Canada stood in front of the firing squad Sunday night, facing questions from the media for the first time since Wisconsin's putrid 10-7 loss at Oregon State one day earlier. Canada, Wisconsin's offensive coordinator, took sole responsibility for the offensive woes all game long. "Nobody's any more disappointed than me," Canada said. "It's got to be much, much better. There's no reason we can ever do that again." What Wisconsin did -- or didn't do, really -- left plenty of concern about the rest of this season. Among the most glaring issues were: -- Finishing 2 for 14 on third down attempts (14.2 percent). Last season, the Badgers led the country in third down conversion rate at 55 percent. "I went back through them in my mind," Canada said. "Some of them were very manageable and I'm very disappointed that you don't get some of them. We weren't as productive on first down as we needed to be. We just had a very, very bad day." -- Being held scoreless through three quarters for the first time since 2005. -- Amassing 207 yards of total offense, the fewest yards for Wisconsin in five seasons. "We weren't clicking on all cylinders," Canada said. "We just didn't make plays here and there -- over a lot of period of time. Not like, 'Oh this or that.' I'm not minimizing at all what occurred or how far off we were in the sense of what we need to do as an offensive unit and the production we need to have." In two games this season, Wisconsin is now averaging 16.5 points. Last season under offensive coordinator Paul Chryst, the Badgers averaged 44.1 points per game. Canada also took the blame for a poor performance from quarterback Danny O'Brien. During the third quarter, O'Brien threw an interception and fumbled the ball away in the red zone on successive drives. "We can't turn it over when guys aren't open," said Canada, who also coaches the quarterbacks. "We've either got to get up field and get positive yards or throw it away. I take that one too. I coach him. He's my spot. We have to do a better job. "Right there, three points would have been big. One score to two score changes the entire outcome of the plays you can call. We were down by two scores as the clock became our enemy there. It makes you one-dimensional, which is not what we want to do . . . It was a big play." Canada also addressed the number of carries for running back Montee Ball, a Heisman Trophy finalist last season. Against Oregon State, Ball carried just 15 times for 61 yards. One week earlier against Northern Iowa, he carried 32 times for 120 yards with a touchdown. Asked if 15 carries was enough for Ball, Canada said no. "I don't think it's enough," he said. "The game yesterday just got out of balance. We weren't productive enough trying to do it early in the first half, mixing it up. At the end of the game, then we have a lot of plays in the fourth quarter where we were trying to come back. The clock became an enemy as well." The Badgers trailed 10-0 in the fourth quarter until O'Brien connected with tight end Jacob Pedersen for a touchdown with 1:31 remaining in the game. Wisconsin's offense struggled, in part, because of the loss of No. 1 wide receiver Jared Abbrederis, who injured his chest attempting to make a catch in the second quarter. Canada said Abbrederis flew home with the team after the game but did not know his status moving forward. Abbrederis tweeted on Sunday: "Appreciate all the thoughts and prayers! I will be back asap. Can't make any excuses just got to get back to work and get our offense rolling." Defense shows improvement: Badgers defensive coordinator Chris Ash also spoke to the media on Sunday and said the defense showed drastic signs of improvement from Week 1 to Week 2. Wisconsin's defense was on the field for 77 plays against Oregon State and kept the Badgers in the game when the offense sputtered. "We've got to correct some things still, but the number of corrections coming out of Week 2 compared to Week 1 are a lot smaller," Ash said. "The effort was I thought pretty good for four quarters . . . I'm very happy about that and the positives that we took out of it." Personnel-wise, Wisconsin suffered a tough loss when strong safety Shelton Johnson left the game with a broken right arm. Johnson finished second on the team with nine total tackles. He was replaced by Michael Trotter, who appears in line to be the starter for as long as Johnson is out. Trotter registered two tackles, including the only sack of the game. "He had a good camp," Ash said of Trotter. "He's gotten better every single day he's been out there. Trotter works hard. He's Mr. Reliable. He knows his assignments inside-out. I'm excited to see where he goes with this opportunity." Ash also addressed the defensive unit's inability to capitalize on turnovers through two games. Wisconsin is one of just seven FBS teams in the country that hasn't forced a turnover this season. For comparison's sake, even FCS school Savannah State -- which lost a combined 139-0 to Oklahoma State and Florida State -- has forced two turnovers this season. Ash noted that Wisconsin's defense missed several tipped balls that could have resulted in interceptions and has forced fumbles but not recovered them yet. "Usually it happens in streaks," Ash said. "Similar to last year. We didn't really get much going in the first part of the season and once we started going later in the season, it just became contagious. That's really what we need to get. We just need someone to get that first one and hopefully it gets contagious." Follow Jesse Temple on Twitter.
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