MADISON — After a crazy week of college football that saw upsets plentiful in the Top 25, Wisconsin will head into this week looking to avoid one themselves.
Playing the Purdue Boilermakers this week, Wisconsin’s defense will like to continue their elite ways, coming off of two stellar defensive performance against Northwestern and Illinois. Despite putting up elite numbers though, the players populating the defensive side of the ball for the Badgers are sure to know they have improvements to make.
One of those areas, is being susceptible to giving up big plays.
“We still gave up a couple big plays this week, a couple draw run plays that we practiced all week and we just didn’t execute,” starting linebacker T.J. Edwards said. “So I think just trying to make sure we are locked in on the game plan and try not to have those mental errors.”
Purdue, who is a stronger passing team than anything else, has big play potential. Quarterback David Blough is completing 58.1 percent of his passes for an average of 6.61 yards per pass and has also thrown 21 touchdowns so far this season. But a team that passes as much as Purdue has, is susceptible to interceptions and turnovers. Proving that, Blough also has 16 interceptions on the season.
Coming off of a week that saw four interceptions for Wisconsin, the secondary will look to do more of the same, while still improving.
“There’s a whole lot we can improve on. The most important thing for us to improve on is always keeping technique, keep good eyes, rely on each other. There’s a whole lot we can improve on together,” cornerback Lubern Figaro said.
One of the players Figaro and the secondary will have to keep an eye on this coming Saturday will by receiver DeAngelo Yancey. With 718 yards on 37 receptions, Yancey is averaging an amazing 19.4 yards per catch. He has also tacked on seven scores.
Last week, Wisconsin defended the pass game as tightly as they have all season, but did give up some big run plays. They should be wary of this heading into their matchup this week as well.
While Purdue’s number one tailback Markell Jones has had little success with only 551 yards and three touchdowns, backup Brian Lankford-Johnson is averaging 6.6 yards a carry and has two scores. Sitting back on the pass when Lankford-Johnson is in would make the Badgers vulnerable to big plays.
“They’re definitely more of a passing team, but that’s where they get teams. They get teams to sit on the pass and they hit you with a big run play in there,” Edwards said.
Defensive end Alec James and the defenders up front for Wisconsin are well aware of this threat as well.
“Even though they are a heavy passing team, up front our main focus is first of all to stop the run so we’re looking a lot at their different runs,” James said.
With hype slowly building around how great Wisconsin has been this year, and all the expectations they have shattered so far, the players are still focused on the week to week grind and motivated by the guys lining up next to them.
“It’s not about those people, it’s about us. We’ve spoken to each other. Everything is inside the room, we don’t worry about the outside of the room,” Figaro said.
“You see the ranking and you notice where the world kind of sees you and I think you want to prove everyone wrong but as long as those guys in the locker room, the coaches are all locked in that’s kind of all you need to be honest,” Edwards said.