Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Football: Ready Orr not, here he comes

True freshman linebacker impresses throughout training camp, first three games
Kirby Wright

Getting thrust into the thick of the action is something Chris Orr had to deal with early in his Wisconsin football career.

On just the third day of training camp this August, inside linebackers T.J. Edwards and Leon Jacobs went down with injuries.

That opened the door for Orr, a true freshman, to take some snaps with the first team. He made the most of those reps, earning the trust of his teammates and defensive coordinator Dave Aranda because of his understanding of the game.


“For that to come naturally to you is such a great asset,” Aranda said. “It puts you light years ahead.”

Not just light years ahead of his fellow class, but light years ahead of opposing offenses, too.

This much was evident Saturday, Sept. 19 at Camp Randall, when Orr was once again thrown into the fire. Jacobs had just been ejected due to a controversial targeting call. And while the referees may have snatched one player’s game away from him, there was no way they were going to take Orr’s first chance to show the Badger faithful what he could do.

And boy, did he show them.

Orr finished with a game-high 14 total tackles, 11 solo and three assisted, including one tackle for a loss. Not bad for a guy playing in just his third college game.

“There’s always room for improvement but I think I played good overall,” Orr said. “I think it came down, more so, to us as a unit, all 11 of us doing our jobs and trusting each other, allowing me and my other teammates to make those plays.”

Orr entered the game with less than six minutes remaining in the first quarter. By the time the whistle blew to end the quarter, he had four tackles.

The DeSoto, Texas native said there were no deer-in-the-headlights moments for him during the game. He squashed those when the Badgers played Alabama on one of the world’s biggest stages at AT&T Stadium and against Miami (Ohio) in Wisconsin’s first home game in 2014.

Wisconsin outside linebacker Joe Schobert, who knows a thing or two about playing linebacker (six tackles, a sack and a forced fumble Saturday), said he’s seen Orr’s capability from the moment he stepped in during training camp.

“I thought he did a great job, stepped in naturally,” Schobert said. “He’s an instinctual player, he showed that all camp. He was able to use that today … I was proud of what he was able to do.”

There was simply no evading Orr on that Saturday afternoon. Wherever a Trojan tried to scamper away, there was Orr, charging and mowing down any player that had the misfortune of carrying the ball in his vicinity.

Orr showed his versatility in pass coverage too. On the first drive of the second quarter and the Badgers leading only 7-3, Orr matched up with a receiver on a third down near midfield. Troy quarterback Brandon Silvers tried to hit the receiver for a first down, but Orr made an athletic play to break the pass up and get the defense off the field.

The play stood out to UW head coach Paul Chryst, who had high remarks for his freshman linebacker.

“I thought [Orr] did some really good things. He showed up in the run game, and I know he made a big stop on a pass break-up on a third down, and it was good for him,” Chryst said. “This week he was able to, because of circumstance, played a lot. He showed up and it was good I think.”

And when Orr points to the reason for his success, he attributes it to the time he got with the starting defense throughout training camp.

“It helped me a lot to be honest,” Orr said. “That was a big shocker coming in. I didn’t expect those guys to go down on the first day of pads, not even full pads, just half pads … ya know, being thrown into the fire, just respond to adversity.”

The wildest part is that just more than a month ago, the possibility of Orr contributing on defense seemed distant.

Orr said he came into his freshman season setting himself up for future time on defense by handling special teams assignments. That all changed when Jacobs and Edwards went down, though, and Orr hasn’t looked back.

“I wasn’t expecting to play this much at linebacker,” Orr said. “I’m glad it worked out the way it did. I’m just glad to play football.”

But did he expect to have this much of an impact early in his career?

“Not like this,” he said with a smile.

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