Defense rebounding from loss

first_imgMATTHEW KUTZ/Herald photoIt’s human nature to second-guess oneself following failure. The what-ifs and recalled mistakes can haunt a person.But you won’t hear any second-guessing from the Wisconsin coaching staff, or its players, following their 51-48 loss to Northwestern. Instead, education was the theme of the day as the coaching staff clamors to correct mistakes that haunted Wisconsin’s defense Saturday.”You have to correct mistakes and just show where we had breakdowns. And a lot of it was communication,” head coach Barry Alvarez said. “That’s something that we’ll have to correct. And you go back to fundamentals. You’ve got a totally different game plan this week and a different type of team that you’re defending. But you always correct mistakes and then move forward.”Yet after starting the year 5-0 before losing to an unranked team this season, comparisons to last year’s collapse at Michigan State, especially considering the defensive play in both the Michigan State and Northwestern contests, have run rampant. As many may remember, Wisconsin struggled to regain their momentum late last season after their loss to Michigan State. The Badgers had been 9-0 before the loss sent UW on a three-game spiral.After allowing the Spartans to light up the scoreboard for 49 points last year, the Badgers allowed the Hawkeyes to put up 30 the following week. However, despite the high number of points allowed against Iowa, the team doesn’t believe their game at Kinnick Stadium was a bad outing by their defense and also doesn’t think the Michigan State game had a carry-over affect against the Hawkeyes.”We came out on the first series [against Iowa] and got a pick. We came out on the second series and got a pick,” senior linebacker Dontez Sanders said. “I think our defense came out and we were more focused [against Iowa] because we wanted to prove that the game we played against Michigan State was not that type of defense.”Still, Alvarez knows that a letdown following a big loss is always a possibility, and remains concerned about the possibility of a letdown similar to last year.”Well, you’re always concerned every week about that, but I don’t think we’re the same team,” Alvarez said.Casillas climbing up depth chart: After spending fall camp and part of the season learning the safety position, freshman Jonathan Casillas will be making his impact at a new position –linebacker.After injuries along the defensive front forced highly touted linebacker Travis Beckum to move from his sam linebacker position to defensive end, Casillas shifted to the sam position, to fill the spot vacated by Beckum.However, another injury, this time to sophomore Casey Hogan who broke his leg in the Northwestern game, has forced Casillas to pick up his learning curve in a hurry. Though he’s only been learning the position for a short time, Casillas is currently listed as the top backup to senior LaMarr Watkins in this week’s depth chart.”Bret [Bielema] needed him, and [we] wanted to start working with him at sam and now with an injury to Casey, we thought we would move him up. The more reps he gets, the more familiar he gets with the position,” Alvarez said. “But I think he brings speed there. He’s very mature for a true freshman. And we just think that as we get into the season further that he can help.”However, The spot isn’t totally foreign to Casillas, who played outside linebacker in his high school days.Coaches had high hopes for the 6-foot-2, 200-pound freshman entering fall camp, but an injury sidelined him for a good portion of preseason practice. Casillas has been seeing most of his time on special teams and had been in a battle with classmate Aubrey Pleasant for the third spot on the depth chart at strong safety.Controversial call: After getting a chance to see the holding penalty called on left tackle Joe Thomas during the fourth quarter of Saturday’s loss, Alvarez felt his initial reaction to the call was the right reaction.”I saw the same thing I saw during the game,” Alvarez said. “There wasn’t a hold.”Thomas’ hold came on a second-and-six situation with the Badgers trailing 44-34. Quarterback John Stocco hit Brandon Williams for a 27-yard gain on the play, but the result was negated following the penalty. Wisconsin would eventually be forced to punt two plays later.Hogan won’t need surgery: After breaking two bones in his leg during the Northwestern contest, backup sam linebacker Casey Hogan won’t need surgery to repair the damage, Alvarez said.”They’re going to put him in a cast up to his hip for a few weeks and then go to a cast probably just below his knee,” Alvarez said. “I think they feel like that it’ll heal and then just move forward and see where he is.”last_img

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