Wisconsin-MSU grades: Badgers defense impresses in win

The highest-graded players and top takeaways from the Badgers win over the Spartans.

| 9 months ago
(AP Photo/Aaron Gash)

(AP Photo/Aaron Gash)

Wisconsin-MSU grades: Badgers defense impresses in win

Wisconsin 30, Michigan State 6 

Here are the highest-graded players and top takeaways from the Badgers 30-6 win over the Spartans:

Wisconsin Badgers

Quarterback: Alex Hornibrook 57.2

This was certainly not a game that required a vintage quarterback performance to come away with the win. All the Badgers really needed were a handful of third-down conversions and Hornibrook did just that. His fumble early in the game could have been a costlier mistake although the interception before the end of the half was more of a last-ditch effort than anything else. The area where Horninbrook was most effective was against the blitz. On 10 dropbacks facing extra rushers, Hornibrook completed 7-10 passes for 77 yards and a touchdown

Top offensive grades:

C Michael Deiter 79.0
LT Ryan Ramczyk 74.9
FB Alec Ingold 71.1
TE Troy Fumagalli 66.8
WR Jazz Peavy 65.8

Ryan Ramczyk once again makes it among the top-5 grades for the Badgers. He may have allowed his first pressure of the season – an ugly whiff on Malik McDowell – but his work as a run blockers still paved the way for the Wisconsin running game. The Badgers gained 96 yards on 21 carries to the left of center compared to 30 yards on 16 carries to the right of center

Top defensive grades:

OLB Vince Biegel 82.6
LB Jake Cichy 82.6
CB Sojourn Shelton 80.9
LB T.J. Edwards 80.0
OLB T.J. Watt 78.5

Badger defense on display in a great performance

Wisconsin’s defense came to play against the Spartans and it shows with their top performers. OLB’s Vince Biegel and T.J. Watt created constant havoc in the Michigan State backfield while stuffing the stat sheet. Biegel had an astounding ten QB hurries and two QB hits to go along with a 76.9 run defense grade in a superb outing. Watt also played a large role in creating pass rush for the Badgers as he totaled two sacks along with six QB hurries. LB Jake Cichy had two QB hurries and three stops while also shining in coverage, earning an 84.9 coverage grade. LB T.J. Edwards played similarly with one QB hit, two hurries, and two stops to go along with another impressive 82.4 coverage grade and an interception. CB Sojourn Shelton posted an 81.9 coverage grade against the Spartans with a pass defense and an interception on seven targets as he continues to improve his grades every game.

Michigan State Spartans

Quarterback grades: Tyler O’Connor, 52.3; Brian Lewerke, 60.5

O’Connor struggles against stingy Badger’s defense

QB Tyler O’Connor had a difficult outing against Wisconsin earning a 51.0 passing grade. He finished the day with a completion percentage of only 47.4 while also throwing three interceptions and only falling victim to one dropped pass. O’Connor was constantly under duress in the game as he dealt with pressure on 51.1 percent of his dropbacks. He did suffer slightly from a lack of yards after the catch as 78.6 percent of O’Connor’s passing yards were with the ball in the air while he also was unsuccessful in pushing the ball deep going only two of nine on passes over 20 yards. Ultimately, the turnovers are what doomed the Spartan offense and the three interceptions played a large role in the offensive struggles.

Top offensive grades:

OG Brian Allen 79.5
OT Miguel Machado 75.1
WR Monty Madaris 74.5
WR Donnie Corley 72.2
TE Josiah Price 67.9

Offense struggles to find a rhythm for Michigan State

LG Brian Allen led the way for the Spartans 79.0 run block grade and a clean sheet in pass protection. Allen was good in one on one pass protection situations but the Spartan offensive line struggled as a whole against the Badger’s stunts and defensive movement. RT Miguel Machado also had a decent game and was in pretty balanced with a decent run blocking performance and only surrendering one QB hurry in pass protection. WR’s Monty Madaris and Donnie Corley were adequate pass catchers as they combined for 134 yards and Corley forced two missed tackles after the catch on Saturday. TE Josiah Price struggled in the run game with a 39.8 run block grade but made nice plays in the passing game as he snagged five catches for 58 yards on only eight targets. The Spartans did themselves no favors against a good football team by turning the ball over, and after three interceptions along with a fumble returned for a touchdown the Spartans will certainly be preaching ball security to get back on track.

Top defensive grades:

DT Malik McDowell 82.9
LB Chris Frey 82.6
CB Darian Hicks 80.3
LB Jon Reschke 80.1
S Montae Nicholson 77.7

At this point Malik McDowell dominating a talented offensive line is to be expected. His five total pressures were two fewer than the rest of the Michigan State defense combined. Through three games linebacker Chris Frey is starting to make a name for himself as well. After grading out very well in only 223 snaps a season ago, Frey is currently among the top 10 highest graded linebackers in the country. If you’re looking to point the finger at anyone on the Spartans defense, it would be safety Demetrious Cox. He allowed 7-8 targets for 94 yards and a touchdown.

| Senior Analyst

Mike is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has also been featured on The Washington Post, ESPN Insider, and 120 Sports.

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