Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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UW defense returns to basics against Iowa

After falling to 4-5 with last week’s loss to Michigan State, the Badger football defense is trying to regroup.

In order to accomplish this they are bypassing any newfound ideas and are sticking to the basics — maintaining a strong, consistent defense for four quarters.

With Ladell Betts, Kyle McCann and the rest of the Iowa squad coming to Camp Randall this weekend, UW realizes the need to accomplish its defensive goals.

“Our focus is to just put four full quarters together,” said Badger nose tackle Ben Herbert. “We haven’t really done it since we played Penn State and Western Kentucky, (when) we played two full games. Ever since we’ve played a quarter here, took a quarter off . . . we showed signs of being a great defense at times, and we showed signs of being a terrible defense. Our main focus is to come out against Iowa and put it all together.”

Putting together a consistent defense entails stopping what’s become a consistent Iowa offense. The Hawkeyes are led by quarterback McCann (64.2 percent passing for 1,370 yards), but the Iowa offense also boasts one of the Big Ten’s leading rushers in Ladell Betts. Betts poses a significant threat, averaging 75.4 yards per game on 4.1 yards per carry.

Though the Badgers respect the ability of the Iowa offense, they aren’t looking to significantly change the defensive game plan in order to stop McCann, Betts and the Hawkeye receivers.

Instead, UW remains firm in the belief of the basics and the success of a sound team where players know their jobs and make plays. Against Iowa, UW aims to get the job done by playing intelligently and aggressively.

“We just have to tackle,” said Wisconsin cornerback Mike Echols. “We’ve got to be physical, and we’re just going to have to tackle and make plays when we have the opportunity. There’s nothing different that we can do to stop Betts and [the Iowa offense].”

In respect to pass coverage, the Badgers feel confident about their defensive ability and the matchup with the Iowa receivers, who have a height advantage of only a few inches.

“I don’t see it as a problem this week,” said defensive back Joey Boese. “I think we have some great athletes . . . they’re definitely going to be challenged this week and they’re going to have the opportunity to make some plays.”

Besides individual threats, there are also threats that the Iowa offense as a whole presents for the Badgers. In the red zone the Hawkeyes have been almost unstoppable so far this season, converting on 27 of 30 attempts.

Iowa’s skill at scoring in the red zone is considerably deterring for a Badger defense that occasionally shows its darker sides, as seen following the first quarter in the Michigan State game. Yet the team remains firm on the idea of keeping the defense as is but working to make it stronger and more consistent.

“I think we just have to take an attitude to tighten up in the red zone,” said Boese. “If they get close enough for a field goal, we just have to hold them to three instead of seven.”
Putting its previous games aside, the Badger defense is approaching the game against Iowa with no particular changes in strategy, but with an emphasis on playing consistent football. As with every other Saturday, they will come in with the goal of showing up to play each quarter with equal capacity while working to contain Iowa’s rushing and passing — especially in the red zone.

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