The Wisconsin Badgers lost to the Washington State Cougars 17-14 today in shocking fashion. The Badgers struggled on offense to get anything substantial going. Along with that, the blocking and decision making really held the team back. Wisconsin came into the game as 17 point favorites in what was supposed to be a rather easy victory.
The loss isn’t easy to swallow, especially right now, but there are some problems that need to be addressed. This team has high hopes for the 2022 campaign and can’t live below expectations anymore. Here are a handful of overreactions following the sour loss to Washington State.
1. The Badgers Need to Execute
Just looking at the result of each drive and the amount of plays/yards can tell a lot about a team. In the second half, the Badgers ran 29 plays for 100 yards, and had three turnovers in the process. One turnover was a sloppy drop after an interception, so the Badgers never actually got to run a play. The Badgers didn’t score a point in the second half.
The team looked off the entire game, but especially throughout the second half. The execution of each drive was lackluster and the Badgers couldn’t hold onto the ball. Mertz finally puts together a nice 13-play drive, and then he throws a pick. The Badgers are lucky enough to force a fumble on the interception, and then Cundiff fumbles. It was a snowball of unfortunate events for the Badgers.
However, they shouldn’t have made any of those mistakes. The theme of the game was recurring mistakes, and not taking care of the football was the first one. Perhaps the worst part about each turnover was that it came at a pivotal moment. Mertz put together a fantastic drive that should’ve ended in a Badgers touchdown, but instead he forced the ball and turned it over.
If the Badgers focus on anything this week, it should be focusing on crisply running the offense. Every play looked too clunky, and it resulted in poor execution of each play. Overall, the offense wasn’t very efficient. Wisconsin needs to make the most of their opportunities to score.
2. Wisconsin’s Special Teams and Defense Struggled
It is really tough to complain about a defense that gave up 17 points. However, there are some specific plays that hurt the team when a stop was needed.
Obviously the defense can’t expect the offense to score every time. Sometimes, a defense can’t rely on their offense to score much at all. The turnovers couldn’t have been predicted but they add more pressure to the defense. Getting a stop on third or four down becomes more valuable when your team is struggling to execute on offense.
OOOHHH MY, HE PUT HIM IN THE SPIN CYCLE TO SCORE THE TD! 🤯
Former Badger, Nakia Watson, with a beauty for @WSUCougarFB to take the lead 🔥 pic.twitter.com/TcMCntvk2C
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) September 10, 2022
The Badgers allowed a 12 yard gain on 3rd and 13 which allowed an easier field goal. Along with that, Washington State converted on 4th down before completing a 31 yard touchdown. The special teams also allowed a huge return to begin the third quarter which gave Washington State a short field. It was the big gains that allowed the Cougars to stay in the game all the way through.
3. The Badgers were Defined by Sloppy Play
Everyone can agree there were far too many mistakes today against the Cougars. Too many players left open, too many avoidable mistakes, and certainly too many conservative play calls. The Badgers let far too many chances slip away.
By far the hardest part of the game to watch was the sloppy errors that killed the Badgers momentum. The turnovers were all avoidable, as previously stated. Even if no play occurred each time, a punt would’ve sufficed. Mertz honestly played well, and he had a beautiful touchdown pass, but he gave up the ball on the most important drives. He will definitely have to clean up his game to help solidify the Badgers this season.
An absolute beauty from Mertz pic.twitter.com/EHFswlLPMm
— IKE Badgers Podcast (@IKE_Badgers) September 10, 2022
It wasn’t just Mertz who had mistakes, other players made them as well. Cundiff gave up the ball on an unfortunate play, but he will learn from it and move on. The most important part of the loss for the Badgers is trying to improve off of it.
Follow us @WiSportsHeroics for more great content. To read more of our articles and keep up to date on the latest in Wisconsin sports, click here!