Badgers cruise in Chryst's home debut
MADISON—Even-keeled Paul Chryst deflected attention to his players after his victorious home debut as Wisconsin’s head coach.
The Badgers made him proud on a sunny Saturday afternoon at Camp Randall Stadium.
Joel Stave threw for 236 yards and three scores, and safety Leo Musso had two of Wisconsin’s three interceptions in the 58-0 victory over Miami (Ohio).
“This day, it’s not about me. The window that these guys have to play, it’s short,” Chryst said. “That’s what was fun for me to see today.”
Rob Wheelwright had two touchdown catches for the Badgers (1-1), who rebounded nicely from a Week 1 loss to Alabama. Dare Ogunbowale ran for 112 yards and a 35-yard touchdown on 16 carries in place of injured starter Corey Clement.
He wasn’t needed against the overmatched RedHawks (1-1), a Mid-American Conference team in the midst of a rebuilding project.
Miami used Drew Kummer and Billy Bahl at quarterback. They combined to go 13 of 34 for 160 yards.
The running game was worse with 24 carries for minus-3 yards.
“It was a long day and disappointing for us offensively,” coach Chuck Martin said.
Really, that was the case on both sides of the ball.
Stave was 19 of 30 before leaving in the third quarter with Wisconsin leading 44-0. The senior is coming along just fine in picking up Chryst’s quarterback-friendly system.
Eight Badgers recorded receptions on Saturday.
“Guys are just playing fast, we’re being decisive and making our decisions quick, not trying to force anything. Just getting it to the guy who has the best chance,” Stave said.
Last year at this time, Stave was competing with Tanner McEvoy for the quarterback job under former coach Gary Andersen.
This year, McEvoy is making an impression in other ways.
Playing receiver and safety, McEvoy became the first Badger to record a catch and interception in the same game since 2003. McEvoy’s 41-yard interception return set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Taiwan Deal for a 27-point lead with 6:32 left in the second quarter.
McEvoy even got in a run with a 2-yard rush lining up behind center in a wildcat formation. He wasn’t winded despite playing the entire game.
“Luckily with a few TV timeouts at the right time, I didn’t feel that at any point or overwhelmed,” McEvoy said.
Unlike Miami, which wilted against a Big Ten power on the road after beating FCS member Presbyterian 26-7 in its season opener last week.
The Badgers dominated the line of scrimmage and got their hands on numerous passes in the secondary.
The game started out promising enough for the RedHawks after holding Wisconsin to a field goal and a punt on the Badgers’ first two drives.
But after the second series, Kenny Young fumbled a punt return after getting hit by Natrell Jamerson and Sojourn Shelton. Wisconsin recovered to set up another field goal with 3:58 left in the first.
Special teams hurt Miami again after Alex Erickson had a 35-yard punt return to the 16. Three plays later, Stave found Wheelwright on a back-shoulder throw for a 13-yard touchdown pass and 13-0 lead with 6 seconds left.
“We made mistakes early that got it out of hand even before we had a chance to even sit in there and play,” Martin said.
The Badgers were off to the races from there. All that was left to make it official was for “Jump Around” to play before the start of the fourth quarter.
The happy fans swayed creaky Camp Randall Stadium.
Chryst? He watched calmly from the 40, talking to Stave and tight end Austin Traylor during the break.
Returning to Wisconsin after three seasons as head coach at Pittsburgh, Chryst had seen all this commotion before during his previous stint as the Badgers’ offensive coordinator.