A Conversation with a Badger: The Daily Cardinal's sports editor
October 21, 2015
A former friend and current foe — The Daily Cardinal sports editor, Jake Powersbr, sat down and talked with me about Kurt Kittner’s tears and the greatest hairdos in the history of Big Ten football.
Kevin McCarthy: At the beginning of the season, did you ever envision the possibility that we would be having a serious discussion about a Wisconsin vs. Illinois football game?
Jake Powers: At the beginning of the season, did you think Iowa would be No. 12 in the AP Poll heading in to Week 8br?
KM: Touché. What makes the Wisconsin defense so good?
JP: Dave Aranda, the defensive coordinatorbr, is a wizard. Seriously. His trademark “peso” package, which Wisconsin runs for most of the game against spread offenses, features just two down lineman, four linebackers and five defensive backsbr. Out of peso, he brings blitzes from all spots on the field and stacks linebackers on the line of scrimmage, and he avoids replicating the same play call as much as possible. He’s arguably the most important coach on Wisconsin’s sideline.
KM: Where are the weaknesses in the Badgers’ defense? If you were Bill Cubit — where would you try to exploit that defense?
JP: If I’m Cubit, I target Wisconsin through the air. It’d be best to attack the Badgers vertically, because the linebackers’ closing speed in the short passing game makes it a tough area to work in.
KM: What can the Illini defense expect from quarterback Joel Stavebr and the Wisconsin passing game?
JP: Joel Stave will throw 40 passes, complete 20 of them, and will put up at least four balls that should be picked off. Look for a lot of comeback routes to the numbers and crossing patterns over the middle. Wisconsin rarely extends the field vertically through the passing game.
KM: When they were in full bloom, did Stave have the best locks in the history of Big Ten football hairdos?
JP: The only one who came close to Joel Sunshine’s flowing locks was Nick Foles in his one year at Michigan Statebr, so that doesn’t really count. Stave by a landslide.
KM: Separate yourself from the unbiased, ethical journalist that you are and answer the following question as a Badgers fan: How would you feel if Illinois upset Wisconsin?
JP: As if the four-hour drive between Madison and Champaignbr wasn’t harrowing enough, a road trip home after a loss might legitimately be too much for me to handle emotionally. Driving through miles and miles of cornfields isn’t exactly therapeutic.
KM: For the Illini to have a chance to win this game, who has to come to play?
JP: Given Wisconsin’s unbalanced offense, which has heavily favored the pass this season, Illinois’ DBs could win this one. Taylor Barton and Eaton Spencebr scare me, and like I mentioned earlier, Stave will give them plenty of opportunities to make plays.
KM: Choose a number one through 10.
KM: Fair choice. Through seven games, what are your initial thoughts about Head Coach Paul Chrystbr?
JP: Paul Chryst will lull you to sleep in any press conference or interview, but that’s not indicative of who he is as a person. He played quarterback at Wisconsin and was an assistant coach for a while before returning as the head coach in December, and his love for everything UW is evident.
Chryst is (Athletic Director) Barry Alvarez’s manbr, and while he’s still working on diversifying the offensive playbook and establishing himself as a solid recruiter, he’ll be in Madison for a long time.
KM: I see that Chryst’s 50th birthday is next monthbr. Any big plans for the celebration?
JP: Wherever he chooses to celebrate, it will be as far away from a podium as possible. The Nitty Gritty, where you drink for free on your birthday in Madison, seems a little flashy for him, so I suspect he’ll have a quiet dinner with his family at an Applebee’s or something.
KM: Speaking of head football coaches, how sad were you when you learned that you wouldn’t be able to cover another Tim Beckman presser?
JP: Now that he’s gone, I’ll probably never be a part of a press conference where a coach asks the media to plant positive stories about himself and the program. Sad doesn’t even begin to describe it.
KM: Do you have a favorite Tim Beckman quote?
JP: “We have doctors.”
KM: If Bill Cubit and Paul Chryst dropped the gloves, who comes out on top and why?
JP: Chryst has the age advantage, but Cubit’s playing days as a quarterback and wide receiver at Delaware laid the foundation for future Fightin’ Blue Hen Joe Flacco, who is, by definition, an elite quarterbackbr. I don’t know what that means, but it gives Cubit the edge.
KM: Why did you betray your family, friends, state, country, Ron Zook, the city of Geneva, Juice Williams, Phyllis Wise, Rashard Mendenhall and the Chicago Bears by choosing to go to UW over Illinoisbr?
JP: I thought Phyllis Wise would take my betrayal the hardest, but I think Kurt Kittner, to this day, still cries uncontrollably when he hears my name. My decision really came down to the fact that Madison has three Chipotles, while Champaign only has two.
KM: What’s it like living near so many Green Bay Packers fans?
JP: When the Packers lost to the Seahawks in last year’s NFC championship game, my neighbors placed a mattress in the middle of the street and lit it on fire. I’m picking up my diploma in May and then getting out of this state as quickly as possible.
KM: Do they smell?
JP: Like cheese.
KM: Are they worse than people from Northwestern?
JP: No, people from Wisconsin actually have heartbeats.
KM: That’s news to me.Since the Illini pounded Kent State in Week 1 — you’ve owed me a sandwich. When should I be expecting my prize from our wager?
JP: Depending on your definition of a sandwich, I’ve been looking forward to getting a burger from Firehaus for weeks now. Saturday at 8 p.m.?
KM: Works for me. In a single word, from a Wisconsinite perspective, Illini football is ____.
KM: Final score prediction for the game?
JP: 27-13, Bucky.
Kevin is a sophomore in Media.