Published Monday, September 26, 2011 AT 6:37 PM / Updated at 7:36 PM
High-powered ground game makes Badger offense go
Jon Nyatawa Omaha World-Herald

Quarterback Russell Wilson may be the Wisconsin player who receivers the most national recognition, but Nebraska’s Carl Pelini said the Badgers’ offensive attack starts with the run.

No disrespect to Wilson. Wisconsin’s averaging 245.5 yards per game on the ground — junior Montee Ball and sophomore James White are responsible for 165.8 of those yards.

“They force you to defend the run,” said Pelini, the NU defensive coordinator. “They put a lot of pressure on your defensive backs. Because you need them in run support, but at the same time they’ve got to be disciplined in their keys and cover their guys. It all starts with the run game for them.”

Pelini did say he was impressed with Wilson, complimenting the QB’s dual-threat tools and his ability to manage a game. Pelini admitted, though, that he’s not too surprised to see the transfer quarterback make an immediate impact for Wisconsin.

“They’re kind of a machine,” Pelini said. “They just plug in each year.”

A few other notes from Pelini, who spoke to reporters after practice Monday…

>>> Senior defensive tackle Jared Crick is back practicing. He feels 100 percent healthy, according to Pelini.

>>> Pelini said the coaches have made no promises to the new starters in the secondary (Daimion Stafford at nickel, Corey Cooper at cornerback, P.J. Smith at safety). What will the lineup look like this week? Practice will determine that. “Every day is a competition,” Pelini said.

>>> One more quote on Wilson, who Pelini said is the best QB the Huskers have faced this year: “Not only is he a real talent with his arm — he can run, scramble, does a lot of things with his legs — but he’s a game manager. He runs that offense very efficiently for them.”

Here’s the audio from Carl Pelini after practice:

About Jon Nyatawa

Jon Nyatawa has covered local sports, primarily Nebraska football, for The Omaha World-Herald since 2008. He and his laptop, cell phone, tape recorder, pen and notebook all live in Lincoln. Follow him on Twitter: @JonNyatawa. Email him here: He welcomes feedback.


  1. T Darnall says:

    Could someone find out what has happened to Courtney Osborne? He is a hard hitting safety, and he couldn’t do any worse then Cassidy in coverage.

    1. JT DiMauro says:

      Amen, brother. I have been wondering why the Huskers coaching staff has not seen this BLARING WEAKNESS. I’m sorry but Cassidy couldn’t cover a bed if he were a blanket. Look, if nothing else please use a cornerback who could hit as well as cover. Cassidy can’t COVER. He is never in position to make a play. Loyalty can only go so far but against Wisconsin, we will need much better coverage. Bo, you have had to have seen this on film. GO BIG RED !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. I remember the 1974 game as if it was yesterday.

    Wisconsin will return the loss favor next Saturday!

    Go Big Red!!

  3. Bill O'Mara says:

    It should be one hell’ve a game, but Huskers will prevail

  4. MichaelB says:

    Bo always plays the best at the position, loyalty play NO part in the decision. Whoever practices best plays. If Bo plays Cassidy its because he is the better player. Period. If you think you know better than the coaches who see them every practice and every game, maybe you should apply for the job when it opens up next time.

  5. MikeG says:

    I disagree with MichaelB. I dont think we have the best candidate at QB in Martinez. Granted, Martinez makes big plays with his feet, but we have a stable of very talented RB’s that could also make big running plays happen and what we need to be competitive on a national level, is a passer. Martinez is not the best passer on the roster. The toss sweep is becoming a good staple play for us because it gives our backs a chance to make plays out in the open. If we had a consistant passing QB we would be much more rounded and the RB’s would be even more successful because the opponents wouldnt be able to stack the box as much. I love it when Martinez breaks off 50 yard TD runs but it doesnt happen usually against good defenses. At that point we need Brion carnes and his passing accuracy to be in control of our offense. Let our RB make the running plays and drain the clock and open it up with the more accurate passer. Nothing against Martinez, he just consistently throws late and way behind our receivers. If we can get Turner, Bell, and Anunwa some well timed passes mixed with our talent at RB, we would be unstoppable. Bo is still dialed in with Mrtinez and as much as I love Bo, I think it is a mistake