Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 Champs Sports Bowl Analyzed

Wisconsin and Miami met in a soggy 2009 Champs Sports Bowl. Despite horrible field conditions, Miami returned the opening kick for a touchdown but it was called back due to an unnecessary block in the back on the return. On Miami's next play, Graig Cooper scored a questionable touchdown. Cooper's knee looked down at the 1 yard line but the play was not reviewed from the both.

Thanks to Wisconsin's stellar defensive performance following the opening touchdown, Miami only managed to score once more the rest of the game (52 plays). Wisconsin dominated time of possession for the rest of the game scoring 20 unanswered points to beat Miami 20-14. Wisconsin's win over Miami was their first win over a ranked opponent this season. The win also marked Wisconsin's 10th win of the season, which gives Wisconsin their sixth 10-win season in their football program's history.

The 2009 Champs Sports Bowl was all about the set-up plays. Each of the touchdowns/field goals were nothing special but the plays that set-up the scores were very impressive. Here are the Top 5 Plays from the 2009 Champs Sports Bowl:

#5) Wisconsin leads 20-14, Miami lines up for an onside kick with 1:22 remaining in the 4th quarter:
Matt Bosher's (Miami) on-side kick was recovered by Miami at the Miami 41 yard line.

This would have vaulted to play #2 if Miami managed to drive the field for the winning score in a little over a minute in the 4th quarter. After failing to recover the onside kick, Wisconsin's defense hung tough like they did the rest of the game (besides the 2nd last drive of the game when they gave up a long touchdown drive).

#4) Wisconsin leads 17-7, Miami ball on the Miami 39 yard line, 1st and 10 with roughly 8 minutes remaining in the 4th quarter:
Jacory Harris (Miami) sacked for a loss of 5 yards, fumbled, recovered by J.J. Watt (Wisconsin) at the Miami 34 yard line.

Wisconsin defensive ends J.J. Watt and O'Brien Schofield played outstanding. Both consistently pressured the quarterback, which got Miami's quarterback Jacory Harris out of rhythm from the start of the game. Watt is the only returning starter along the Wisconsin defensive line but based on his play this season he looks poised for a huge season in 2010.

#3) Game tied 0-0, start of the game:
Philip Welch (Wisconsin) kicked off 66 yards. Kick returned by Graig Cooper (Miami) 4 yards, lateral to Sam Shields (Miami) who ran for a touchdown. Miami penalized for illegal block, ball placed at the Wiscconsin 16 yard line.

Sometimes returning the opening kick for a touchdown is a curse. In 2007 the losers of the BCS National Championship Game (Ohio State Buckeyes) and the Super Bowl (Chicago Bears) returned the opening kick for a touchdown but both lost the game. Miami is usually lethal on special teams because of the freakish athletes they recruit and that is exactly what happened on the opening kick off of the game.

#2) Game tied 7-7, Wisconsin ball on the Miami own 36 yard line, 2nd and 10 with roughly 10:00 remaining in the 2nd quarter:
John Clay ran for 52 yards to the Miami 12 yard line for a 1st down.

Three plays after Clay's long run, he walked into the end zone untouched thanks to another great block by tight end Lance Kendricks. Wisconsin is not normally a big play team but Clay's long run helped propel Wisconsin into the lead, a lead they would never relinquish for the rest of the game.

#1) Miami leads 7-0, Wisconsin ball on the Miami 41 yard line, 1st and 10 with 8:26 remaining in the 1st quarter:
Scott Tolzien threw to Lance Kendricks for 37 yards to the Miami 4 yard line for a 1st down.

Two plays later John Clay walked into the end zone untouched thanks to a great block by who else, Lance Kendricks. Wisconsin could have gone into a shell after giving up a big play to start the game. Instead Wisconsin showed their resiliency by buckling down and getting their first points on the board to tie the game.

Final Thoughts:
Although Clay was named MVP of the Champs Sports Bowl, Scott Tolzien and Lance Kendricks, despite not throwing/catching a touchdown, were even more instrumental to Wisconsin's victory over Miami. Tolzien made a number of throws in pressure situations all game. Most of those throws went to the Wisconsin tight ends Garrett Graham and Lance Kendricks.

On the defensive side of the ball, Wisconsin defensive ends Watt and Schofield were in Miami's backfield the entire game. Watt and Schofield disrupted Miami's timing, which kept Miami's offense out of sync all game.

Clay's performance kept his name in the 2010 Heisman discussion but for my money Tolzien, Kendricks, Watt and Schofield should have been the first 4-way MVP in Champs Sports Bowl history.

No comments:

Post a Comment