Run and Shoot: An Ugly Half

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An Ugly Half

LAS VEGAS, Nev.- Luke Swan dropped a bullet pass from Donovan down at the goalline on 1st and 10 from the UNLV 15 with 21 seconds to go in the half. It was AT LEAST the third dropped pass of the half by Badgers' receivers. On 3rd and 5 from the 10, with five seconds left in the half, Donovan overthrew his receiver in the back of the endzone.

It brought up a 27 yard field goal by Taylor Mehlhaff as time expired in the half, which gave Wisconsin the lead 9-7, even though they didn't play like the fifth best team in the nation, and certainly didn't deserve the lead.

The Wisconsin offense did wake up with that last drive, with a 14 play, 81 yard drive to pick up the three points and take a lead into halftime. The Bret Bielema halftime speech will most likely not be aired on Versus, it wouldn't meet FCC regulations.

Here are some unofficial stats from the first half, none being too impressive:

The teams were just about even in offense, with Wisconsin outgaining UNLV 199-163, and the Badgers had one more first down with eight.

QB Tyler Donovan has looked frazzled thanks to a pretty good UNLV secondary in the first half. He finished 9 for 15 with 98 yards and a touchdown. The longest play was a 24 yard pass to Travis Beckum on the final drive off the half.

RB P.J. Hill looked dominating at times, finishing the half with 11 carries for 71 yards and his long was 20. Backup Zach Brown also looked good, rushing twice for 19 yards.

TE Travis Beckum leads the Badgers in receiving yards and catches, with three for 43.

As for the defense, LB Elijah Hodge has seven tackles to lead all players, including a TFL.

QB Travis Dixon is 12 for 19 for 125 yards and his first collegiate TD pass, with a long of 34. He's also run eight times for a total of eight yards (his long is seven).

RB Frank Summers leads the Rebels with 22 yards rushing on six carries.

WR Casey Flair caught the lone UNLV TD, and has three catches for 35 yards, while Robert Paulele has two catches for 43 yards.

Second Half Keys:
The Wisconsin defense has played the run well, even with Dixon scrambling all over the field, allowing only 38 yards on the ground in the first half. They need to tighten up the secondary just a little bit, especially after giving up a lot of yardage last week against Washington State.

If the Badgers can continue to force Dixon to scramble, he can't continue to take a hit every play like he has. By the middle of the second quarter, he was certainly getting up slower than earlier. Being flipped over three times and crushed another few will definitely do that to a QB.

But he certainly impressed me with his decision-making. Any QB gets my nod of approval when he ducks his head and gets hit as hard as he has. That doesn't mean I agree with him taking that punishment.

As for the Badgers offense, it's only a matter of time before they start clicking. They looked much better on that final drive that led to a field goal as time expired in the half, and watch them use P.J. Hill a little more than they did in the first half.

Wisconsin will get the ball first, so we'll see if they can keep the momentum up from their final drive in half number one.

People here in the pressbox are certainly shocked, and the UNLV people keep saying "we were ranked No. 115 in the preseason."

Indeed they were.

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