Just another day in the life for the nation’s third-best scoring defense.
The Badgers played well enough up front and essentially made the Coyotes one-dimensional. The secondary was stellar, the linebackers made plays, the front four brought pressure, and the collective defensive unit finally began recording take-aways. Here are the individual grades:
Defensive Line: A-
I’m a bit torn about the line’s performance. While they did bring constant pressure and recorded three sacks, they seemed unable to stop the run game, at times. Granted the Coyotes were very one-dimensional in their play-calling and ran the ball 37 times, it still hurts to see 124 rushing yards under the Coyotes’ stat line. Call me a perfectionist, but while it only averages out to 3.4 yards per rush, I think the Badgers front four can improve. And they’ll need to next weekend against the dynamic rushing attack of Taylor Martinez and Rex Burkhead.
This would be a straight A, but I pass part of the blame for South Dakota’s 124 rushing yards to the linebacking corps. But besides that, the linebackers were effective. Borland continues to demonstrate his knack for making big plays while recording his first interception of the year. The unit also featured the Badgers’ top three tacklers of the day in Mike Taylor, Borland, and Kevin Claxton.
Any team who can hold their opposition, no matter how bad, to less than 50 yards through the air deserves mad props. When Nick Toon can out-gain the Coyotes in one play, you know the secondary was on top of their game. Cromartie seems to be fitting in well with the unit and they collectively appear confident to move on to their next challenge.
It’s awfully hard to complain about a defense that has given up 8.5 ppg through the first four match-ups, but the Badgers must continue to improve before their anticipated match-up with the Huskers. Can’t wait.