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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Badgers focus on playing ‘perfect’

[media-credit name=’GREG SCHMITZ/Herald photo’ align=’alignright’ width=’336′]FB_No2_GSchmitz[/media-credit]Wrapping up its nonconference schedule before the start of the Big Ten season, Wisconsin will host The Citadel in what head coach Bret Bielema hopes will be a sea of red.

The Badgers (2-0) are coming off a last-minute win manufactured by a Tyler Donovan run. All three units — offense, defense, and special teams — weren't particularly good. Saturday is their last opportunity to sort out the inconsistencies from the good before Big Ten play begins next weekend against Iowa.

"[Our] struggles kind of all boil down to how we do on third down," linebacker Jonathan Casillas said. "No matter how you put it, … I don't think we did a good job those first two weeks, and that's one thing I think we're going to improve on this week."


It is Bielema's goal that the fans unify by wearing all red to Camp Randall. The defense, on the other hand, has already gelled as a group and is focused on playing "perfect" football.

"We're worried about the defense, and how we work and how we play and not giving up a point and not giving up a yard," cornerback Jack Ikegwuonu said. "If we can do that, we can go out there and make a statement after the first two games — this is a big game for us to do that — so I think if we can do that, it will give us a nice boost before Big Ten play begins."

The Bulldogs (2-0) run a spread offense, and they run it well. Last week, The Citadel walloped Webber International 76-0 to set the program's modern-day record for points scored.

While the point total is quite the feat, the Bulldogs are not the sort of team that should normally scare a Top 10 team, coming from the 1-AA Southern League.

Still, after what happened to Michigan a few weeks back against Appalachian State and from what he's seen on film of the Bulldogs' offense, Ikegwuonu won't take UW's opponent lightly. And that means resisting the temptation of shifting into neutral and coasting.

"I'd lie if I say I'd probably get up more for them than a different opponent," Ikegwuonu said. "But they're a good team. I don't want to put anything past them. They have good athletes, have played good teams before so they're not going to be shocked at all. They're going to come at us with everything they got."

Casillas found no reason why The Citadel should be overlooked despite its "weak" labeling.

"That's one thing we won't do, we won't take anything for granted," Casillas said. "We don't want them to come over here and throw up a dud."

The secondary will face another good passer in senior quarterback Duran Lawson. This time, Ikegwuonu promises, the defense will be prepared.

"I think we're going into the game expecting [Lawson] to throw the ball around the field," Ikegwuonu said. "He's a senior as opposed to (Travis) Dixon who was a redshirt freshman. [Lawson's] a seasoned veteran, he's been there before and knows how to run the offense. So we're ready to defend the pass."

In addition to Lawson, senior Tory Cooper, who has rushed for over 100 yards in four straight games, will pose a threat. Last season, the back led the team in rushing and receptions.

"They like to spread (Cooper) out, pass the ball to him … so we have to keep an eye out on him," Ikegwuonu said. "A lot of things they do are representative of where he is on the field. So if we know where he is, keep track of him, then we'll have an opportunity to be successful."

More impressive than Cooper or the offense itself is The Citadel's discipline. Of course, its military background contributes mightily.

"The kids are very disciplined because of what it takes to go there," Bielema said. "They're making formations at 6 a.m., they've got great discipline, great athletes … so it's going to be a great opportunity to go out and see exactly where we are."

Freshman Kyle Jefferson is the favorite to replace the injured Paul Hubbard at receiver, but Bielema hasn't ruled out the possibility of a rotating receiver-by-committee scheme.

"Probably going to be one or two that jump out a little bit more than the rest," Bielema said. "I know this, they're all real excited, and it's an opportunity for someone to take a step forward and again, it might be by committee, for certain things some guys are better for certain roles than others."

Lance Smith is available to play this week, but look for Zach Brown to retain his role behind P.J. Hill.

"Ninety-five percent of the situations that are going to pop up on Saturday, the first guy in will be Zach Brown," Bielema said.

The defense wants perfection. Bielema wants improvement. Whether they happen remains to be seen.

If nothing else, Saturday's game will be a good indicator of how well the fans respond to Bielema's requests to wear all red.

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