Mason: Coach’s errors costly for UW

first_imgI think everyone watching Saturday’s Badger football game experienced a few “what are you doing?” moments.No, viewers weren’t wondering what the players on the field were doing or how they managed to let another fourth-quarter lead slip away. Let’s face it: After everything that has happened this point in the season, was anyone really surprised with the outcome?What was a bit more puzzling, however, were the actions of Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema.Bielema has caught a lot of heat this year for his team’s — for lack of a better description — disappointing showing. But following a few obvious coaching blunders Saturday in East Lansing, the temperature of his hot seat may have been turned up a few degrees.The first of the questionable coaching calls came at the end of the first half. After UW quarterback Dustin Sherer hit redshirt freshman Nick Toon for a 26-yard completion that moved the ball to the MSU 14-yard line, the Badgers opted to run up to the line of scrimmage and spike the ball to stop the clock with 21 seconds remaining before halftime. On second and third down, Sherer was unable to connect with tight end Garrett Graham and Toon on consecutive passes, forcing Wisconsin to settle for a field goal.I couldn’t quite understand why Bielema wouldn’t call for a timeout — his team had two remaining at that point. He must have forgotten they don’t carry over into the second half.Granted, it takes the officials a bit longer after a long pass completion to get the chains moved, but if you’re Wisconsin and you’re already hurrying up to the line of scrimmage, why not run a play? The Badgers had the Spartans’ defense on its heels. Running another play after gaining big yardage on the Sherer-to-Toon connection could have caught them off-guard.Instead, Bielema and company burned a down, giving themselves just two shots at the end zone instead of three. Look at the 25-24 final score, and the importance of that potential four-point swing becomes obvious.Another Bielema boo-boo that was a bit more blatant to Wisconsin fans was the 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty handed to the UW head coach as MSU was about to take the field following a John Clay touchdown. The Badgers were flagged for a five-yard delay of game, which Bielema clearly didn’t agree with.The official explained to Bielema that the delay of game — when Jay Valai accidentally bumped into him — interfered with his ability to do his job. Bielema supposedly responded by telling the ref that, in his opinion, the official wasn’t doing a good job.I wonder if the referee retorted by telling Bielema the exact same thing.Regardless of what words were exchanged, the Spartans had the ball on the Badgers’ 44-yard line to start the drive. That’s not exactly fair to the defense when they’re expected to hold the offense on such a short field, and the players only had their coach to blame.These two miscues by Bielema resulted in a potential 11-point swing for the cardinal and white. It’s understandable when the players on the field change the momentum of the game by such a margin. It’s unacceptable when that blame falls on the shoulders of the coach.Oh, and let’s not forget what happened at the end of the fourth quarter. When the Spartans moved the ball to the Badgers’ 37-yard line with about half a minute remaining, it was clear they were going to attempt the game-winning field goal on fourth down.With no timeouts remaining, the MSU special teams unit had to rush onto the field to get set up. Bielema decided to call a timeout with 12 seconds on the clock — letting nearly 20 seconds elapse and giving Michigan State a chance to regroup.If you’re going to call a time out at that juncture in the game, why let the time drain off the clock? Give your team a chance to do something if (and when) they get the ball back after the kick. Instead, the Badgers attempted a failed lateral-palooza a la Cal-Stanford to end the game.As if these three reasons weren’t bad enough, there were numerous times in Saturday’s contest — and the entire season, for that matter — when UW players were running on or off the field late, looking confused as to which personnel was supposed to be in the game. Most of this seems to take place on special teams plays, which happens to be the unit Bielema coaches.I’m not saying Bielema deserves to be fired for this season’s many miscues, which were magnified against Michigan State. But something needs to be done to limit these slip-ups. A start would be for Bielema to take himself away from the special teams duties. He already oversees a team of over 100 players.Trying to decide which of those players should be on the field is obviously too tall a task for him to handle.Tyler is a senior majoring in journalism. What do you think should happen to Bielema? Let Tyler know at [email protected]last_img

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