Evridge, UW roll over Herd

first_imgJEFF SCHORFHEIDE/Herald photoAfter rushing for 404 yards and only throwing the ball 10 times against Akron, the University of Wisconsin offensive attack took on a different identity Saturday.The start was less than ideal, but ultimately, UW was able to overcome a lackluster first quarter en route to defeating Marshall 51-14.The Thundering Herd took full advantage of a Badger team that committed six first-quarter penalties and simply looked flat early. Freshman quarterback Mark Cann connected with Darius Passmore for a 36-yard pass over the head of Mario Goins to set up a 1-yard Chubb Small touchdown run to put the Herd up 7-0.Cann found Lee Smith for a 25-yard pitch and catch on the ensuing drive, which ended in a Darius Marshall 1-yard touchdown run. Just like that, the Badgers found themselves in a 14-point hole.But they didn’t panic.“We settled down on the sidelines, had a few spirited conversations and put our guys on the right track,” head coach Bret Bielema said.Sophomore wide receiver Kyle Jefferson said it was quarterback Allan Evridge who rallied the troops.“He just told us that we’re a family,” Jefferson said. “We’re a group of brothers fighting for each other, and that’s what we did, we came out and fought. We just stayed focused, stayed on task, listened to our leaders and executed.”In only his second start in a UW uniform, Evridge led an aerial assault that the Marshall defense simply couldn’t handle. Evridge piloted a seven-play, 60-yard drive that ended in a 2-yard touchdown run by P.J. Hill. The lefty Evridge completed his first pass of the day on that drive — after starting 0-for-4 — on a 38-yard strike to tight end Lance Kendricks, who finished with a career-high 94 yards receiving. That shifted the momentum into the Badgers’ favor.“He threw a couple balls, threw them on time, on rhythm,” Bielema said of Evridge. “A couple guys made nice plays. Garrett Graham had a couple nice grabs, Kyle Jefferson, some nice individual efforts out there as well. It’s easy to get behind guys that are completing balls. We just got in a rhythm there. You could kind of see the pendulum swing. … That [play] might have changed the whole momentum of the game.”Kendricks agreed.“It was definitely a momentum swing,” said the Badgers’ tight end. “I definitely looked to the sideline to get them riled up. I looked to the o-line to get them going. I think it really got some confidence in everybody.”That was just the beginning, as Evridge finished the day 17-of-26 for 308 yards and a touchdown to tight end Garrett Graham. But don’t talk to Evridge about statistics; he only has one thing in mind.“The most important thing for me is the win,” Evridge said. “I don’t care how many yards it was, as long as we got the ‘w’ … I just love to win.”Still, his coach was excited.“Allan made an individual statement just doing what he did,” Bielema noted. “Any time a quarterback has to hand the ball off 40 or 50 times in their opener, everyone is going to say, ‘Why can’t you throw?’ but Allan knows. He started off 0-for-4 … didn’t start off on the right foot, but then battled back, settled down.”After a 45-yard Phillip Welch field goal into the wind, Wisconsin finally took a 17-14 lead — its first of the day — with 31 seconds left in the first half, as Zach Brown scampered for a 3-yard touchdown run. But again, it was Evridge leading the drive as he completed three straight passes — including a 34-yarder to Kendricks — to set up the score.“This tight end group has good leaders in Garrett, Travis and Mickey (Turner),” Kendricks said. “The tight end group is one you can look to when things aren’t going right.”No one had to tell that to Evridge, as Kendricks and Graham caught a combined 167 yards.The onslaught continued in the second half as Evridge and the offense fed off of three UW third-quarter interceptions — two by Niles Brinkley and one by Shane Carter.“Defensively, we got three straight turnovers, and we really kicked it into high gear,” captain DeAndre Levy said. “The offense responded and got some scores, and we just rolled from there.”In the third quarter alone, Evridge orchestrated three more touchdown drives and threw for 105 yards as the Badgers kept piling up what ended up being 51 unanswered points.“The run, they were shutting it down early so we decided to throw,” Evridge added. “Last week we were so dominant with the run, but this week they were shutting some things down. But then we really got it rolling, and I’m really proud of my teammates.”His receivers were proud of him, too.“[Allan] was a lot more comfortable, smiling, getting in the groove of things,” Kendricks said. “It was a lot of fun.”Winning is always fun. But completing a 2-0 start wasn’t the only thing these Badgers took away from Saturday’s comeback victory.“It’s always good to have adversity,” Jefferson said. “I’m glad we got it early, so we know what it looks like, so when we go on the road or have a game at home, we know how to overcome it.”Coach?“I’m excited because I just saw a football team that was down 14-0 and had every reason in the world to fold or continue with the struggles,” Bielema said. “But they haven’t done that.”“This team is excited about each other,” he added. “I like the chemistry of this football team. It’s been tested twice now, and they’ve responded positively both weeks.”last_img

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