Aggressive from the outset and fantastic on fourth down, Badgers hit Wolverines early and often
BY MIKE LUCAS
UWBadgers.com Senior Writer
MADISON, Wis. — The Badgers have won five straight games over Michigan at Camp Randall Stadium (dating back to the 2005 season) and they have done so with five different starting quarterbacks. In each of the victories, a UW tailback has rushed for over 100 yards.
2005: Wisconsin 23, Michigan 20
- UW’s John Stocco (15-32 for 147 yards); UM’s Chad Henne (16-34 for 258)
- UW’s Brian Calhoun (35 rushes for 155); UM’s Max Martin (16-91)
2007: Wisconsin 37, Michigan 21
- UW’s Tyler Donovan (14-27 for 245); UM’s Ryan Mallett (11-36 for 245)
- UW’s Zach Brown (27 rushes for 108); UM’s Carlos Brown (9-38)
2009: Wisconsin 45, Michigan 24
- UW’s Scott Tolzien (16-24 for 240); UM’s Tate Forcier (20-26 for 188)
- UW’s John Clay (26 rushes for 151); UM’s Denard Robinson (5-36)
2017: Wisconsin 24, Michigan 10
- UW’s Alex Hornibrook (9-19 for 143); UM’s Brandon Peters (9-18 for 157)
- UW’s Jonathan Taylor (19 rushes for 132); UM’s Chris Evans (11-25)
2019: Wisconsin 35, Michigan 14
- UW’s Jack Coan (13-16 for 128); UM’s Shea Patterson (14-32 for 219)
- UW’s Taylor (23 rushes for 203); UM’s Dylan McCaffrey (3-21)
For the record, the Wolverines’ last win in Madison was in 2001. The outcome swung on a fumbled punt inside the UW 10 in the closing seconds with Hayden Epstein’s 31-yard field goal allowing the Wolverines to escape (20-17). UW’s Anthony Davis rushed for 103 yards in a losing cause.
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Leading up to the 2019 Michigan game, Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst had gone over potential play-calling scenarios, especially in short yardage. This is generally standard operating procedure in practice and the quarterback meeting room regardless of the opponent.
“He (Chryst) will tell us going into the game,” Coan said of only his second home start as the Badgers signal-caller, “that if it’s third-and-long, or something like that, that we might call a play that might not get to the sticks (on third down) but be ready to go for it on fourth down.”
That was the case on the Badgers’ opening possession. On third down from the UW 32, Coan scrambled out of the pocket for a 2-yard gain that came up just short of the sticks. It was so close that it necessitated a video review. After a delay, the play stood as called, setting up a fourth-and-short.
On Chryst gambling from his own 34 on the first series of the game, Coan said, “We all had a pretty good idea that he would. He made it pretty clear that he was going to be aggressive from the jump and all the guys loved it because it showed right that we were ready to go.”
The Badgers also converted on two more fourth downs on the first series of the second quarter.
On fourth-and-3 from the Michigan 42, Coan completed a 26-yard pass to Quintez Cephus.
“We knew that they were going to be in tight man coverage,” Coan said. “It started out like it was a rub route for Q because in years past the guy in Q’s spot had just run a flat out. We showed them that a few times and we thought we’d get them on the out-and-up and it worked out that way.
“Q is an amazing player. He was open – like he always is.”
On the same possession, Coan was stopped for no gain on a quarterback sneak from the Michigan 1 on second-and-goal. Tailback Nakia Watson was also held for no gain on third-and-goal. Chryst called Coan’s number again on fourth down and he scored.
“It was an in-game adjustment to what they were doing to us,” Coan said. “That play wasn’t necessarily in the game plan. Those are the big moments in the game that you need to take advantage of to win, and we all knew that we needed to pick it up. It’s got to happen. Whatever it takes.”
Overall, the Badgers converted on 78 percent of their fourth downs (18 of 23) in 2019.
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Late in the second quarter, Coan scored on a 25-yard run against the Wolverines.
“It was a designed pass,” he said. “All of the defenders were playing bracket coverage and beyond the line of scrimmage they pretty much had their eyes on the receivers. There was an open hole, I took it, and I just kept running. It was definitely surprising to me (scoring) because they’ve got a lot of speed on their defense.”
His longest previous run as a Badger was for 9 yards against Miami in the Pinstripe Bowl.
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Wisconsin is scheduled to play the Wolverines on November 14 in Ann Arbor, where the Badgers are 2-7 over the last nine trips. Their last win in the Big House was in 2010 when they dominated Michigan on the ground by rushing 58 times for 357 yards. James White had 23 carries for 181 and Montee Ball had 29 for 173, while Tolzien was nearly perfect (14-of-15 for 201 yards).
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On the impact of last season’s conclusive victory over Michigan in the Big Ten opener, Coan said, “It meant a lot to us. That was a good team that we played, and we were able to beat them pretty well. It sort of set the tone for the rest of the year.”