Football: Wisconsin’s revamped passing attack making up for struggling running game

first_imgThe Wisconsin football team reached the highest single-season average for passing yards per game in 2011, when now-Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson threw for 234.3 yards per game and Paul Chryst was in his final season as the team’s offensive coordinator.Wilson then left for the NFL, while Chryst took a head coaching job at Pittsburgh. For the next few seasons, Wisconsin dominated games on the ground behind the likes of Montee Ball, James White and last season’s Heisman trophy finalist Melvin Gordon.As the running game was dominating, the passing game was struggling, and for the most part, Wisconsin’s offensive game plan had a fairly predictable identity each year.Ground and pound.This season, while Wilson isn’t back under center for the Badgers, Chryst is back after his stint with Pittsburgh to serve as the leading man for UW, and his presence is already being felt after the first two games of the season.Fifth-year quarterback Joel Stave — who is coming off a year where he threw for just 135 yards per game — is currently averaging 34.5 passes and 245.5 yards per game through Wisconsin’s first two contests. The Badger passing attack as a whole looks revamped and vastly improved when compared to that of previous years.And whether or not it is Chryst who should take credit, proving the core’s worth was something fifth-year senior receiver Alex Erickson took to heart.“I don’t know if it was [Chryst] coming here, but I think as a group we took it personal that we were going to be a strength of this team,” Erickson said. “I think as a wide receiver core we have really done that and it is starting to show on Saturdays.”It is also a matter of circumstance, as junior running back Corey Clement is still nursing a hamstring injury while the team is working three new offensive linemen into their starting lineup.Both scenarios have hurt the running game’s production and resulted in Stave throwing more times and for more yards than anyone may have expected.But despite Stave’s previous struggles and UW’s history of being a run-dominant team, it has not hurt the team’s efficiency on offense, something that may not be the case under any other coach or any other offensive scheme.“Obviously coach Chryst is going to do what he does, run his system and not worry about what’s happened in the past,” Erickson said. “But, I think guys have really adapted to him and guys have really grown into the offense.”Now, with Clement expected to be out until the Big Ten opener against Iowa, the passing game will continue to be relied upon and Stave’s numbers should continue to surpass those of Wilson’s record-breaking season.After two contests, Wisconsin has thrown for 491 yards and rushed for just 228.For offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph — so long as Stave and his receivers remain productive — that is entirely all right.“I think you play to what your team is doing well,” Rudolph said. “I think Joel’s doing a nice job making decisions with the ball and I think each game is its own entity. You go in with a plan and you kind of play to what’s going well.”Stave has the same kind of mindset, as he trusts Chryst will continue to make the right calls and work to make the offense run as efficient as possible.“I know Coach Chryst calls the games based off of how he’s feeling, how the flow of the game is going,” Stave said. “I think that’s worked well for him for many years.”Only time will tell what direction this Wisconsin offensive is going, as it is very dependent on the health of their lead running back, the effectiveness of the backups and the growing chemistry of the offensive line.But for now, as the Badgers take on this offensive style that may favor going through the air rather than on the ground, Erickson and his fellow receivers will continue to take advantage of their opportunities and continue to have fun while doing so.“It’s fun when you look over and Rob [Wheelright] is catching touchdowns and [Austin] Traylor is catching a touchdown,” Erickson said. “It’s fun to be out there competing and trying to be better every single week.”last_img read more

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Opare Addo apologizes for comments on referees

first_imgHearts of Oak PRO has apologized for his comments which preceded Hearts of Oak’s 3-1 defeat against Wa All Stars.The PRO had said the referees appointed for the game usually favored Wa All Stars citing a game against WAFA last season.Hearts of Oak’s fans reacted angrily to a goal scored by the Wa side by throwing water bottles and many have suggested they were incited by Opare’s comments.However, Opare is apologetic stating it was not his motive to incite the fans.”It is rather unfortunate if my comment somehow was interpreted to incite the supporters of the club.I am hugely sorry for the statement I made because it was not intentional but we were only trying to tell the referee to be cautious because we were demanding fair play from everybody. It is unfortunate it has been misinterpreted which is not good and the behavior of the supporters, if it came from my comment then we don’t have to support their behavior as a club.“I sincerely apologize for my comment.”Opare has been summoned by the Disciplinary Committee of the Ghana Football Association.  –Follow Joy Sports on Twitter: @JoySportsGH. Our hashtag is #JoySportslast_img read more

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