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Archive for Sunday, August 26, 2001

Trusty running game sparks Badgers

Wisconsin scraps spread offense in second half of 26-17 victory over Virginia

August 26, 2001

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— Wisconsin used the spread offense to change things up, their traditional running game to win.

No. 22 Wisconsin finally rallied offensively in the second half Saturday after ditching the spread offense to beat Virginia 26-17 in the Eddie Robinson Classic.

"That's what we do. That's our offense," Alvarez said of the running game.

"And the spread is a compliment to that."

It looked more like a detriment in the first half as the Badgers struggled.

Brooks Bollinger was ineffective in the four-receiver sets Wisconsin (1-0) opened the game with and had already been spelled on two series by Jim Sorgi when he went down in the second quarter while scrambling to his right.

He had a contusion of the liver and was taken to a hospital, where he could stay overnight.

Sorgi wasn't much better in the spread as the two combined to go 5-of-15 for 41 yards in the first half. But after going back to the two tight end formations that Alvarez has used in his 11 years at Wisconsin to power the Badgers to three Rose Bowl wins, the offense finally got into a rhythm.

"I tried telling everybody this: It's just not lining up four wide receivers and everything opens up," Alvarez said. "You still have to execute, and you have to throw it well enough that people depart from the box."

Sorgi finished 5-of-11 for 150 yards with touchdown passes of 78 and 38 yards. The Badgers also rushed for 228 yards only 82 yards coming in the first half from the spread formation. Anthony Davis led the Badgers with 147 yards on 24 carries in his college debut.

"We forced them to go back to their power game, and they took advantage of it," Virginia cornerback Jamaine Winborne said. "I think we stayed with them until the switch."

The loss spoiled Al Groh's return to college after coaching the New York Jets last season. He started Matt Schaub at quarterback but went to Bryson Spinner after Schaub made several critical mistakes.

Schaub gave the Badgers' sputtering first-half offense several breaks, throwing two interceptions that Wisconsin turned into 10 points in the second quarter.

Both times he threw the ball right into the defenders' waiting hands. On the first, Ben Herbert intercepted the ball at the line of scrimmage and returned it to the 18. Jerone Pettus then ran around the left end for a 16-yard touchdown.

Schaub then threw the ball right to linebacker Nick Greisen, who returned it to the 7 before the Badgers had to settle for Mike Allen's field goal.

"We gave away 10 points on turnovers," Groh said. "Therein lies the story of the game."

The Cavaliers (0-1) also had a 74-yard touchdown on a screen pass called back for clipping and lost running back Antwoine Womack in the first quarter after he sprained his right ankle. Womack, who led the ACC in rushing last year, had seven carries for 18 yards when he left.

Schaub was 3-of-10 for 24 yards and was intercepted twice. Spinner was 10-of-22 for 154 yards and two touchdowns. But Groh said it was too early to tell who will start at quarterback when Virginia plays Richmond on Sept. 1.

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