Stanford defense tips result of Rose Bowl

first_imgWide receiver Kenzel Doe had just one reception for five yards, but no Wisconsin receiver caught more than three balls against a relentless Stanford defense.[/media-credit]PASADENA, Calif. -There weren’t any surprises New Year’s Day at the Granddaddy of Them All. Two teams, two old-school styles of football and two relentless defenses graced the field in a low-scoring, smashmouth affair that many already saw coming.But, on one particular afternoon, No. 6 Stanford’s defense (12-2, 8-1 Pac-12) shined brighter than anything Wisconsin (8-6, 4-4 Big Ten) could put on the field, dictating the tempo of the game and batting down critical passes in a 20-14 Cardinal win.“We were defeated by a very good Stanford football team,” interim head coach Barry Alvarez said. “They didn’t surprise me how they played, as you saw that on films, they’ve been a very consistent all year.”Stanford’s talented front seven in the 3-4 defense constantly bruised Wisconsin’s run game and never allowed much of an offensive tempo, as the Badgers allowed the Cardinal to record four tackles for a loss and five running plays for no gain.One of those plays was a fourth and goal for Wisconsin at Stanford’s 1-yard line, a play where Mequon native and Cardinal senior defensive end Ben Gardner slipped off of a block from Badger left tackle Ricky Wagner and stuffed running back James White in the backfield. One of the few key moments of the game, the play resulted in a turnover on downs in the opening drive of the second quarter and robbed the Badgers of a critical touchdown at a juncture of the game where they were down 14-0.Perhaps the biggest difference in the game was the height of the Cardinal’s down defensive linemen in the game, as defensive ends Gardner and Henry Anderson each recorded a pass breakup and got their hands in the passing lanes when they weren’t harassing Badgers quarterback Curt Phillips.Gardner (six tackles on the game) and Anderson (three tackles) had perhaps the best height of any defensive end duo UW had faced the entire season, with Gardner standing at 6-foot-4 and Anderson at 6-foot-6.“They are very tall,” Phillips said. “I don’t think I have a low release, but I think it’s almost a credit to our offensive line because they didn’t allow those guys to get in. The only thing you can do whenever you get stoned at the line is to jump up and try to tip balls and that’s really the only chance they had.”Phillips point was valid, as Wisconsin’s offensive line never allowed Stanford to sack their quarterback. The Cardinal’s lone sack came thanks to an intentional grounding penalty on Melvin Gordon on an attempted trick play on a jet-sweep in the first quarter.But while Stanford recorded just three total pass breakups, those numbers don’t reflect the total times the Stanford defensive line was able to get its hands on Wisconsin passes. Numerous passes were deflected, including a lucky bounce for UW that saw a deflected ball fall into the hands of wide receiver Jared Abbrederis for 22 yards and a first down, as the next play ended in a Montee Ball touchdown run and brought the score to 14-7 in the second quarter.The most important tipped ball of the day came when Stanford defensive end Josh Mauro lined up at nose tackle. With the score 20-14 in Stanford’s favor with just a little over two minutes remaining in the game, Phillips stepped back to pass. Even though he was double-teamed and stalemated by Badgers center Travis Frederick and left guard Ryan Groy, Mauro extended both his hands and was able to jump up, catching his left hand on the ball as Phillips targeted an open Jacob Pedersen.As the ball changed trajectory it found the awaiting arms of Stanford’s Usua Amanam. And when the Cardinal nickelback stood up to show the crowd his prize to screaming roars of approval from the team’s fans, it was all but over for Wisconsin.“I really thought we were going to be able to go down (on that last drive) and move the ball,” Frederick said. “The pass protection was pretty decent, especially since it was against a great Stanford defense that had so many sacks.“They got a hand on the ball and tipped it up and that’s the story.”But Stanford’s style of play on the defensive line also allowed room for Phillips to break the contain defense and escape the pocket, plays that kept several key Wisconsin’s drives alive. He finished with 64 yards on five carries in his first career Rose Bowl start.Maybe that’s what kept a healthy Joel Stave on the sideline for the Badgers was Phillips’ ability to extend the play, as the veteran used a crafty move – faking a step out of bounds on the left sideline – to create a 38-yard gain on a first and 10 during the waning two minutes before halftime, setting up the Badgers’ tying touchdown pass to Jordan Fredrick six plays later.Though the Badgers’ offensive line kept the Cardinal at bay early, Stanford adjusted to Wisconsin’s 14-point second quarter to hold their opponent scoreless for the entire second half. Like many cases this season, it ended up being a tale of two halves for UW, as the team gained 219 total yards on offense in the first half, but recorded just 82 yards in the second half.“We just weren’t able to produce what we needed to produce as an offensive line,” Frederick said. “We didn’t play the way we needed to in the second half.”last_img read more

Tyus Battle keeps Syracuse within striking distance of Duke in 69-65 loss

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on March 24, 2018 at 3:58 am Contact Charlie: csdistur@syr.edu | @charliedisturco OMAHA, Neb. — Seven seconds remained on the clock as Tyus Battle stepped to the free-throw line. The Orange trailed by three, its season quickly falling out of reach.In that moment, Battle had an opportunity to pull the Orange within one against conference rival and brute Duke. The sophomore had kept SU within striking distance all game on the back of his 3-point shooting and passing. Now, here he was, possibly taking his last pair of free throws in an Orange uniform.Battle released his first free throw. It bounced off the rim and to the floor. He dropped his head, knowing the game was over. Though he made the second free throw, Duke would extend its lead to two possessions on the following play. And six seconds later, the buzzer sounded as No. 11 seed Syracuse’s (23-14, 8-10)  run came to an end against No. 2 seed Duke (29-7, 13-5), 69-65, on Friday night at CenturyLink Stadium. When SU had trailed by seven at the half, the margin was single digits because of Battle. And as the comeback ensued, it was Battle again.“Battle is one of the best players in the country,” Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “And I thought he really kept them in the game in the first half. And he’s poised. He’s a big-time player.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAlexandra Moreo | Senior Staff PhotographerAll season long, Battle has been the leader on a Syracuse team that’s had a turbulent season, one that led to the Orange being the last team in. He’s played 39 or more minutes in all but two games since December and has taken the bulk of the shots, especially down the wire. Just last game, he scored 16 second-half points and had the step back jumper and a pair of free throws to lift the Orange to a 55-53 upset over No. 3 seed Michigan State. But in the two games prior to Duke, Battle struggled to heat up in the first half. He shot a combined 1-for-11 before using a strong second half to lead SU in back-to-back upsets. That changed Friday night.Two minutes in, Frank Howard caught a pass in the high post. He quickly found Battle who drilled the 3. In the previous 40 first-half minutes, he had just three points. All it took was one shot to tie that skid.Over the next 18 minutes, Battle added two more 3s, a floater and found Paschal Chukwu for an alley-oop over Duke’s Wendell Carter Jr. Unlike the last two games, Battle said he was releasing the ball higher, which resulted in a better shooting performance — 50 percent from the field. He also credited freshman Marek Dolezaj, whose screens helped open up enough room for a pair of 3s. It was a much-needed performance for Battle, especially with his two main counterparts, Frank Howard and Oshae Brissett, struggling. The two combined for four points on 1-of-12 shooting and four turnovers. “That’s our main scorer on the team. We want him to take those shots and get over our offensive slumps,” Brissett said. “… Today he was hot so we just kept on giving him the ball, kept on letting him do his thing.”Battle’s success carried over into the second half. On one play, he spun between a collapsing Trevon Duval and Marvin Bagley III before letting off a floater that went over the outstretched arms of Carter Jr. The ball swished through the net as the referees blew their whistle to call a foul.Though he only scored eight points in that half, he distributed the ball into the paint often. Battle continuously worked the ball to Dolezaj who consistently made turnaround jumpers. As the final buzzer sounded, Battle hunched over. His team-high 19 points and five assists helped Syracuse keep the game within one possession until the final seconds. But he couldn’t lift SU over Duke like he had over the previous three opponents. After the initial press conference, Battle walked into the locker room and was swarmed by reporters. A few questions were asked before one reporter brought up Battle’s plans for the future. The sophomore’s stock had jumped since the Tournament’s start and he had been featured in mock drafts.Battle shook his head and said he has yet to consider it. But he wouldn’t confirm that he’d return, like his teammate Brissett had. “I don’t even know,” he said. “It’s so early to even decide what I’m gonna do.”At least for now, Battle is still Syracuse’s leader. The one that has carried the team through the highest highs like upsetting Michigan State, and the lowest low like losing to a Matt Farrell-and Bonzie Colson-less Notre Dame team. He’s one of the main reasons Syracuse got this far. And a big factor in why Orange had a chance to upset the Blue Devils. But the magic had run out. Commentslast_img read more