How can a team that has outscored their opponents 93 to 0 over the course of two games have possibly faced adversity yet? It doesn't make any sense.... Or it has happened and the devil is in the details.
Remember two early interceptions that could've changed the complexion of both the UMass and Tennessee Tech games?
Joel Stave, Gary Andersen and the rest of the Badgers sure do and the response of everyone involved following those interceptions tell us a lot about the makeup of this team and most importantly it's quarterback.
Sure, both interceptions were bad. Stave simply threw the wrong ball at the wrong time against UMass and against Tennessee Tech he mis-read the actions of a linebacker, who in turn made one heck of a play for his interception.
“It was a heck of a play by the linebacker out there," said Stave following the game. "He kind of rerouted the first inside curl, and I just didn’t… he got out there quicker than I thought he would. He had his back turned at first and made a heck of a play on the ball.”
Those mistakes could really kill Wisconsin against teams like Ohio State and Northwestern (who happen to lead the Big Ten in turnovers forced by the way), but they are correctable mistakes and ones that Badger fans are going to have to live with as Stave grows into a starting quarterback.
"I think the challenge is that you just can't use the youth card," sad head coach Gary Andersen following the game Saturday. "You can't just say, well, he's young, so that's okay because it's not. It's not okay for anybody to make mistakes.
"But for him to bounce back and kind of let it roll off his back, it's kind of like a corner..."
On Saturday Stave did more than bounce back, he became dominant off of his mistake. Instead of worrying about the interception Stave went out and executed the two-minute drill to perfection, literally—going 13-for-13 passing and leading the Badgers to a score, hitting tight end Brian Wozniak (1st career TD catch) to cap off the half and put Wisconsin up 28-0 going into the intermission.
Defensively the Badgers picked up their quarterback in both occasions as well. Against UMass it was allowing just one first down and forcing a punt that gave the ball to the offense at Wisconsin's 40 yard line. On Saturday afternoon it was a three and out, only allowing three yards.
Impressive defensive responses to a shift in momentum to say the least.
“That’s kind of how you want to play, how you’re expected to play," Stave said. "You want to obviously take those interceptions away, but that happens, that’s football. I think as an offense we’ve done a good job responding to turnovers and the defense hasn’t given up any points off of turnovers, so we’re getting the job done there too.
While we must all acknowledge the level of opponent, it's the how of what Stave and the defense did that should make people stand up and take notice, especially for a quarterback that has started all of seven games period in his career.
"For him to be able to stand up and do that and for his teammates to look him in the eye and say, okay, let's go, let's get this thing done, it's a big moment, and I hope it plays out that way to be a big moment as we go through the rest of the season," said Andersen.
That kind of poise and response is usually reserved for veterans with two or three years worth of learning on the job under their belt.
What is also clear is that the Badgers and Stave are likely to face much greater adversity over the course of this season, especially given the opponents coming up on the schedule and these experiences, however limited the opponents were give the Badgers and most importantly, Joel Stave, something to draw off of.
(Photo Courtesy 247sports)
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