Defense helps Wisconsin shake off upset bid by Iowa Print
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Sunday, 23 September 2007 14:07
NCAAF Headline News

 MADISON, Wis. (AP) -Finally facing a team that doesn't run one of those pesky spread offenses, Wisconsin's defense played as advertised for the first time this season.
Wisconsin (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) held Iowa to 228 yards and 13 first downs in a 17-13 victory on Saturday night. An equally stubborn Iowa defense kept the game close, but the Badgers' defense kept the Hawkeyes from cashing in on turnovers.
``(We) faced a conventional offense for the first time this year and we really played well,'' cornerback Jack Ikegwuonu said.
Iowa (2-2, 0-1) converted only two of 16 third downs, making a believer out of Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz.
``I know there has been some talk and banter up here about the defense,'' Ferentz said. ``I think they answered that question tonight.''
Of course, even Ferentz admitted that the Hawkeyes' offense didn't offer as tough a test as they'd hoped.
Wisconsin's first three foes, Washington State, UNLV and The Citadel, ran spread offenses - using shotgun formations and multiple-receiver sets to keep the Badgers off balance.
Iowa doesn't run a spread offense. Instead, the Hawkeyes were simply spread too thin.
Jake Christensen was 17-of-37 for 169 yards despite playing without most of his top receivers. Iowa already was missing suspended receiver Dominique Douglas, and lost tight end Tony Moeaki and wide receiver Andy Brodell to injuries in the first quarter.
Ferentz said Moeaki broke his hand and dislocated his elbow, and Brodell injured his hamstring. Both players would miss ``significant'' time, he said.
Ferentz admitted his team was ``running out of playmakers'' - at least experienced ones.
In his place, redshirt freshman Derrell Johnson-Koulianos made a one-handed touchdown catch near the end of the first half and made a 44-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter to keep the Hawkeyes' upset hopes alive.
The Badgers committed three turnovers, and the Hawkeyes managed only three points off of them.
``We're certainly not an offensive juggernaut,'' Ferentz said. ``When we get field position, we need to get points out of it. That cost us a little bit. I don't know how much it cost us this game. But it would have helped us certainly.''
While it wasn't the toughest offensive test the Badgers will face this season, it certainly beats giving up three touchdown drives of 72 yards or more to The Citadel.
A few days after calling his own team's defensive effort ``unacceptable'' at halftime against The Citadel, Badgers coach Bret Bielema admonished the media for its ``negative'' coverage and placed his defensive players off-limits for interviews last week.
But just because they weren't allowed to talk doesn't mean the players weren't stewing.
``We were really disappointed with ourselves after the Citadel game, so we went out there and practiced hard,'' cornerback Allen Langford said. ``We had a real good week of practice and it showed today. We went out there and played hard and swarmed the ball.''
The Badgers sacked Christensen four times, 2 1/2 of which were credited to blitzing defensive back Aaron Henry.
``We knew Iowa's quarterback is just in the (beginning) of his career,'' Bielema said. ``He's very athletic and agile and can obviously throw the ball well. We wanted to make him make decisions instead of letting him think through his decisions.''
In all, it was a more acceptable effort.
``I thought our defense came with the right attitude,'' Bielema said. ``They tackled and attacked the ball well.''
 

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