No. 11 Wisconsin focused on San Jose State, not comparisons with nation’s No. 1 teamBy Colin Fly, AP
Friday, September 10, 2010
No. 11 Wisconsin on 14-game home opener win streak
MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin wants to shoot down the No. 1 comparison that’s sure to be made Saturday when the 11th-ranked Badgers take on San Jose State: How would Wisconsin fare against Alabama?
The Spartans lost 48-3 to the top-ranked Crimson Tide last Saturday and San Jose State coach Mike MacIntyre believes Wisconsin and Alabama are similar in style.
“They both have very good running games, they both have really good tailbacks, have experienced quarterbacks that know what they’re doing. Defensively, they fly around,” the coach said. “It’s going to be a very stern test.”
Wisconsin is a 38-point favorite against the Spartans and the Badgers only want to talk about winning their 15th straight home opener.
Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said people naturally will compare the two scores, but they’ve kept that chatter out of the locker room.
“It’s a thought that goes through your mind,” Bielema said. “But you’re more focused on what San Jose State is doing.”
One big difference in this game is that the Spartans will face Wisconsin’s John Clay after avoiding reigning Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram last week.
The 252-pound Clay ran for 123 yards and two touchdowns in 17 carries in a 41-21 victory over UNLV in Las Vegas last Saturday.
“As you watch teams play them, they have to tackle him low. If you tackle him high you have no chance,” MacIntyre said. “The guy’s a big, strong running back. The good thing about it is the second-teamer they bring in is only 5-11, 242, so they get a little smaller as it goes.”
That would be sophomore Montee Ball, who went for 79 yards and two more touchdowns on 16 carries. Freshman James White added 59 yards on 11 attempts and caught three passes for 37 yards.
Besides the running backs, Wisconsin’s offensive line averages 323 pounds and the Badgers debuted a backup offensive lineman, Ryan Groy, as their newest fullback at 6-foot-5 and 307 pounds. Groy later switched uniforms at UNLV and played on the offensive line in the second half.
“The first series, we tried to ram it down their throats,” said Groy, who took about 15 snaps at fullback. “I was used a lot more than I thought I would be. I was really excited about it.”
Wisconsin is looking closely at making changes on its offensive line and quarterback Scott Tolzien said the competition is a sign of depth. The left side is set with pro prospects Gabe Carimi at left tackle, John Moffitt at left guard and Peter Konz at center.
On the right side, former walk-on Ricky Wagner, who earned a scholarship last week, is challenging starting tackle Josh Oglesby. Bill Nagy and Kevin Zeitler remain in competition for the guard slot there.
“Competition brings out the best in you,” Tolzien said. “The most eye opening thing for me is to see how those guys work. … They don’t say too much, they just grind and work and work and work.”
San Jose State quarterback Jordan Le Secla will need to be more efficient against the Badgers after the Spartans converted just 1 of 13 third-down attempts. MacIntyre said many of those failed conversions were his team’s fault, not the defensive effort of Alabama.
San Jose State has netted more than $1 million for the games against Alabama and Wisconsin after reportedly turning down a $450,000 guaranteed game at Arizona State for a much sweeter offer from the Badgers. MacIntyre wishes the Spartans were playing closer to home, but said it’s important to play marquee programs.
That means traveling 1,700 miles over consecutive weeks and starting Saturday’s game at Camp Randall Stadium when it’s 9 a.m. back in California.
“I think it’s worth it for the athletic department and our young men to play in those type of games and that type of atmosphere,” MacIntyre said. “They’ll use (the money) for our programs and help with the budget situation. We are in the black and that’s part of the reason, which is good for our whole university, not only athletically but academically.”
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