More special teams blunders

first_imgWhen Bret Bielema was preparing to begin his initial campaign as head coach, one of the first orders of business was to put together his new coaching staff. Bielema excelled, bringing in top-flight coaches that mirrored his signature fire and enthusiasm. However, there was one notable omission: no special teams coach, as Bielema stated that the staff would work together to mold the unit. It might be time to rethink that strategy.Wisconsin’s offense was suburb, the defense: suffocating. But once again the Badger special teams unit was the weak link, continuing a disappointing trend. For the third time this season, the Wisconsin special teams unit cost UW points, as an extra point went awry early in the third quarter.After P.J. Hill plunged in for his second touchdown of the day from two yards out, Wisconsin botched the snap to holder Ken DeBauche. DeBauche picked the ball up and attempted to throw it across the field to kicker Taylor Mehlhaff who had run out toward the left sideline, but the toss was a slow, high arcing floater that was snatched by Minnesota’s Mario Reese and returned to the house, for a rare defensive two-point conversion. “I think Kenny actually was a former quarterback,” Bielema said. “Didn’t look too good on that one.” In the context of a 41-5 rout, the bizarre play was actually somewhat comical and amusing, but it was no laughing matter to DeBauche.”I don’t think I was in any position to make a joke then [after it happened],” said a sullen DeBauche, who also struggled as a punter, failing to punt the ball any farther than 38 yards on his two attempts. “I was pretty upset with myself, and I think Taylor and the rest of the PAT team were upset with me, which is understandable. I shouldn’t have made that throw in the first place.” “It really kind of put the damper on my mood for the rest of the game, it’s hard to let something like that go. I’m just lucky it wasn’t a [close] game, not that this wasn’t a big game. It wasn’t a big moment at that point in the game. I just got to make sure I don’t do something like that again.”Meanwhile, punt returner Zach Hampton had a tough day, eventually getting benched in favor of wide receiver Luke Swan. It was an adventure for Hampton every time out, as the fifth-year senior looked like he was fighting the ball and struggled to make a clean play, muffing catches twice.”Yeah, Zach kind of gave me the heebie-jeebies there a little bit,” Bielema stated, also adding that he is unsure of whether Hampton or Swan will continue as the return man next week at Purdue. “I just wanted to field the ball at that point in the ballgame. I didn’t want to give them a cheap turnover and put ourselves in a position to have to play defense down there.”Beck-to-BeckOn the first play from scrimmage in the second half, Wisconsin went for the jugular and quarterback John Stocco found Travis Beckum free over the middle. Beckum had nothing but green in front of him, and looked like he might take it to the house. However, Trumaine Banks tripped up Beckum, cutting his romp short to only 41 yards. Beckum was visibly upset at not taking it the distance slamming the ball and the turf while getting up.But on the next play, Beckum was allowed a chance to finish what he started, catching a 40-yard touchdown strike.”That felt good,” Beckum said. “A lot of the guys gave me stuff, saying I should’ve scored and maybe Coach Chryst did too.”The play highlighted the sophomore’s second consecutive 100-yard receiving game, as the former defensive end from a year ago continues to develop into a major receiving threat. “He just makes plays,” Stocco said. “I think he’s caught just about everything I’ve thrown him, pretty much. He’s just been doing a hell of a job for us.”last_img

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