Wisconsin's Outback Notebook

Posted Jan 1, 2005

Even after watching Pollack get named MVP, some Badgers still weren't convinced.

If the Outback Bowl was a duel between all-American defensive linemen David Pollack of Georgia and Erasmus James of Wisconsin, Pollack got the better of the deal. Pollack was chosen as the game's Most Valuable Player while James was largely absent.

James, the Big Ten's defensive player of the year, made just two tackles, one in each half. He "hurried" one David Greene pass, but was ineffective as a rusher otherwise. It was also James whom Greene drew offsides with a hard count on the game's first play. Greene converted that opportunity into a 31-yard pass play to Leonard Pope. James was flagged for offsides later in the game as well.

"I thought their tackles blocked our guys pretty well," Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez said. "I don't want to judge how Erasmus played, but that wasn't one of our better defensive performances."

Loyal to his teammates, Wisconsin offensive tackle Morgan Davis thought Pollack's credentials were overblown.

"Pollack today, he wasn't much compared to (James), I'll tell you that much," Davis said. "We were the better team out there today. Erasmus, he's been great all year he deserves some of those awards. That's all I got to say."

LOSING STREAK: After opening the season with a nine-game winning streak and rising as high as fifth in national polls, Wisconsin closed the season with consecutive losses to Michigan State, Iowa and now Georgia. Still, Alvarez was somewhat upbeat after the Outback Bowl loss.

"I think we overachieved this season," he said. "We won nine games, found a way to win nine games. You always want to win but you have to be realistic in the same respect. So I do not consider it a disappointing year. Sometimes you get frustrated because you think you can always play better, but that's how I look at it."

James, a senior, would have liked to get a double-digit win total.

"We really wanted to show the younger guys you can't dwell on those two losses," James said. "You have to fight hard and come back and get that 10th win, we didn't get it. I think they still got the idea you have to go out and participate as hard as you can."

AFTER FURTHER REVIEW: The Big Ten conference used instant replay to review questionable officials calls and Alvarez is a fan of the concept. He would have liked it in place for the Outback Bowl.

On the kickoff following a touchdown that cut their deficit to 24-13, the Badgers kicked to Georgia return man Tyson Browning who juggled the ball as he drifted toward the end zone and side line. The officials ruled Browning had stepped out at the 1-yard line and gave Georgia possession there. Replays showed that Browning carried the ball back across the goal line before stepping out of the end zone which would have been ruled a safety.

Alvarez said the explanation he got was that Browing stepped out at the one before crossing into the end zone.

"I'm in favor of instant replay and I did mention to the officials that (pause) I'm sure they'll be using it soon," he said.

NO HUDDLE SCRAMBLE: Georgia employed a no-huddle offense throughout the first quarter, but Wisconsin all-American safety Jim Leonhard discounted its effectiveness.

"We were prepared," Leonhard said. "I kind of thought they thought we were going to wear down, but I really don't think that we did. I mean it wasn't a real rush-to-the-line, get you moving. I didn't really think it affected the game at all."

The hard counts were a different story, however. Leonhard thought the Badgers might have been too eager defensively early.

"Anytime you have such a long layoff, guys are just really excited to be back out there," he said. "And (Greene) is a great quarterback, he's done that all year and we knew he was going to do it. I think guys were just really excited and ready to make that first hit."

Related Stories
Pollack Goes out in Style
 -by DawgPost.com  Jan 1, 2005
James, Pollack share respect
 -by BadgerNation.com  Dec 31, 2004
Improved offensive line still has tall order
 -by DawgPost.com  Dec 29, 2004

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