Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Trying to be 5-0

Coming off its biggest scare of the young season, the Wisconsin Badgers’ defense must now prepare for perhaps the biggest challenge thus far when the 2-0 Arizona Wildcats roll into Camp Randall Stadium Saturday.

Not only does the high-octane Wildcat offense boast the defending Pac-10 rushing champion in junior running back Clarence Farmer, but the man handing the ball to Farmer, quarterback Jason Johnson, is off to a sizzling start.

The two-pronged Arizona attack won’t make things easy for the Badger defense. “You’ve got to respect both things. It makes it a little harder on you because you don’t know how they’re going to come out,” said UW safety Jim Leonhard. “They can attack you in two different ways.”
This versatility will be a change of pace from the types of offense the Badgers have seen in their first four games.

“For the most part, we’ve either seen a passing team or a running team,” said Leonhard. “UNLV came out and tried to do a little of both, but for the most part, we’ve only had one-dimensional teams. They could throw it if they had to, or they could run it if they had to, but this is the most balanced team we’ve seen so far.”

Leonhard has played a vital role in shutting down offenses this year, leading the Big Ten with four interceptions. In addition, he leads the conference in broken-up passes with 14. He has also chipped in with 29 tackles, good for second on the team.

Even though the much-hyped Clarence Farmer has gotten off to a slow start (only 108 yards in Arizona’s first two games) the Badgers will not take him lightly.

“We’re going to go after him and just try to shut him down,” said defensive tackle Anttaj Hawthorne. “We’ve got a nice little package we’re going to throw at him this week.”

As to what he and fellow defensive tackle Jason Jefferson can do against Farmer, Hawthorne said, “Just fill the holes, fill our gaps — that’s about it.”

Wisconsin will attempt to give Farmer the same welcome West Virginia star running back Avon Cobourne received when he was held to only 79 yards rushing. That experience has helped the Badgers in their preparation for the Arizona ground attack.

“We’ve played a lot of good running backs this year,” said Hawthorne. “We’re pretty confident going into this game.”

Farmer’s ability will prevent the Badger defensive line from completely teeing off on Johnson, who has thrown for 797 yards and five touchdowns in two games. The senior signal caller is coming off a career-high 416 passing yards in the Wildcats’ 23-17 win over Utah. However, do not expect the Badger defense to be indecisive.

“If we’re going to go after the quarterback, we’re going to go after the quarterback. We’re not really worried about the threat of pass or the threat of run,” said Hawthorne. “Whatever they throw at us, that’s what we’re going to go after.”

Hawthorne, who is tied for the team lead with two sacks, said that in order to disrupt Johnson’s rhythm, the defensive line needs to “pressure him, stay on him all day.”
The players on defense are using last week’s lackluster performance as a little extra motivation to prove themselves against Arizona.

“We’re using it for motivation, because we know we’ve got to play a lot better than that,” said Leonhard. “We can’t get away with playing like that with anyone left on our schedule.”

Extra incentive lies in the Big Ten season looming on the horizon. The defense would love nothing more than to cap off their non-conference schedule with a strong effort this Saturday, giving them not only an undefeated record, but also confidence and momentum going into Big Ten play.

“It’s really important to get the momentum,” said Leonhard. “Going into the Big Ten 5-0 would just be tremendous for us. It would get everyone on a high; we’d just take off from there.”

Hawthorne echoed these sentiments. “Trying to be 5-0,” he said. “Trying to be 5-0.”

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