Even though his offense scored six touchdowns and generated 435 total yards, University of Wisconsin football coach Paul Chryst walked off the field Friday night feeling like it was an uneven performance from the unit.
A second viewing of the No. 19 Badgers’ 49-0 win at South Florida on video only confirmed that belief.
“Oh, yeah,” Chryst said Monday. “And you didn’t have to try to manufacture (material). We did do some good things. … I didn’t feel like we were on on some of the things that you’ve got to be to give yourself your best chance. So I think there’s plenty of stuff to work on offensively, certainly.”
The offense sputtered at times, though a monster game from Jonathan Taylor was more than enough to mask some of those mistakes.
The junior tailback was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week after producing 183 total yards and four touchdowns on 18 touches in just over two quarters of work against the Bulls. Three of Taylor’s scoring plays accounted for 111 of those yards — runs of 37 and 38, and a 36-yard screen pass — but even he admitted there’s plenty for the Badgers (1-0) to fix heading into their home opener on Saturday against Central Michigan (1-0).
“We played a good game in general all around, but there are definitely things we can clean up such as some tackle-for-losses,” Taylor said. “First game of the season, you expect things to clean up. You don’t expect to go in and play a perfect game. You strive for it, and that’s what we’re going to continue to strive for.”
UW had 11 plays that lost yardage, including three sacks for 22 yards.
Six of those negative-yardage plays were on runs. The Badgers were stopped for no gain four other times.
“There’s more things that I think went right than wrong,” UW junior center Tyler Biadasz said. “But I think we can grow. I think we left a lot of stuff on the table.”
Junior quarterback Jack Coan went 19 of 26 for 201 yards — a stat correction over the weekend added two yards to his total — but almost all of his damage was done on short throws.
Coan missed junior wide receiver Quintez Cephus on two deep throws. His longest completion, besides the screen pass to Taylor, was a 17-yarder to Cephus just before halftime.
Sophomore tight end Jake Ferguson was responsible for UW’s only turnover of the game, losing a fumble in South Florida territory in the second quarter.
The offense also had three penalties, all by offensive linemen.
A false start by right tackle Logan Bruss contributed to UW’s second series of the game stalling. On the next drive, which also ended with a punt, the Badgers were marched back 15 yards when left guard Jason Erdmann was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after Taylor moved the chains on third down in a short-yardage situation.
Late in the first half, Biadasz was called for an illegal snap. UW lost five yards on the play and had to burn its final timeout, though Taylor made up for it by converting a pass from Coan into a 12-yard score.
“If you watch the film, there were things that we were really close on and we felt like we kind of left some points on the board,” UW junior tailback Garrett Groshek said. “And there’s obviously every game, we’re going to get different plays that you wish could have been a step here or a step there. We’ve definitely got enough stuff to improve on that we’re not coming into this week feeling that we played a perfect game.”
From the infirmary
The Badgers will be without three starters — and possibly a fourth — against Central Michigan.
Bruss (left leg), safety Scott Nelson (left leg) and outside linebacker Izayah Green-May (right arm) are listed as out on the preliminary injury report. Senior inside linebacker Chris Orr (right ankle) is listed as questionable.
Either senior David Moorman or sophomore Tyler Beach will replace Bruss in the starting lineup.
Junior Noah Burks will replace Green-May.
Junior Eric Burrell will take over for Nelson. Burrell started in the opener, with UW using a nickel package that included three safeties against South Florida’s spread offense.
Junior tight end Luke Benzschawel (right leg) will miss his second consecutive game. Senior tight end Zander Neuville (left leg), who rejoined the program late in the summer after being granted a sixth season of eligibility by the NCAA, also is listed as out.