#95 Joe Monty, 6'2-252, Junior
#34 Kurt Ware, 6'4-274, Sophomore
#91 Jason Chapman, 6'4-280, Freshman
#98 Gino Cruse, 6'5-312, Freshman
#96 Nick Hayden, 6'5-302, Sophomore
#54 Mike Newkirk, 6'3-250, Freshman
#92 Matthew Shaughnessy, 6'6-225, Freshman
#56 Brandon Kelly, 6'4-250, Sophomore
Despite losing four starters up front to graduation and two to long term injuries (DT Justin Ostrowski and DE Jamal Cooper), this group has played pretty well so far. Sophomore Nick Hayden has taken over well in the middle and is the best player inside for the Badgers. The 300 pounder plays with a nice forward lean and he is very strong. Hayden has also been making noise in the backfield with four tackles for loss and three sacks. Taking Ostrowski's spot has been Jason Chapman, an interchangeable player in the past from end to tackle. Chapman is no Ostrowski but he's the best of the other options. The pressure will be on Hayden with Ostrowski out. As the lines best inside player, he will be on the field a lot given there's not much depth behind him. The reserves who should see the field are Gino Cruse and Mike Newkirk. Newkirk is an active player who really gets after it but on tape, he does get muscled around and he's not the anchor type lineman. I think he would be best used on line stunts and twist. Given the fact he doesn't play as low as he should, Michigan's interior line should have a favorable matchup when he's in the game. Gino Cruse is a kid I like and the Badgers really need to him step up. He's the biggest lineman of the group but can make plays too.
At the ends, Joe Monty and Matthew Shaughnessy will most likely start. Monty is solid but he really didn't impress me much as a pass rusher, but he plays with nice technique. I think if Kurt Ware is close to healthy after recovering from the chicken pox, he will play a large role. Ware is the team leader in sacks with Nick Hayden and is a legit player on film. Ware uses his hands well on the rush, he can deflect passes, and he's a plus athlete for his size. He doesn't consistently get a good jump off the line of scrimmage and it takes him some time to build his momentum but he can put pressure on the quarterback once he gets going. Matthew Shaughnessy is a freshman to really watch for. Shaughnessy can get off the blocks well, he's a quick player and can really bring it as a pass rusher. He's only a true freshman but this kid has talent. Also look for DE/OLB true freshman Travis Beckum to play spot duty at end. He's extremely raw at the position but he was the nation's top rated defensive end coming out of high school so the skill is obviously there. Offensive tackle Joe Thomas could also see time playing on the defensive line in goal line or large formation sets. The depth is short and Thomas has past experience there. I've been a big fan of this kid for awhile now, he's big, very athletic and strong so he can get he job done in my opinion.
#14 Dontez Sanders, 6'1-208, Senior
#7 DeAndre Levy, 6'3-215, Freshman
#41 Mark Zalewski, 6'2-228, Junior
#51 Joshua Neal, 5'10-234, Freshman
#24 LaMarr Watkins, 6'1-223, Senior
#36 Travis Beckum, 6'4-220, Senior
Weakside linebacker Dontez Sanders is the team's leading tackler and playmaker in the back seven. Sanders is an undersized but very rangy athlete. I think he needs to play a little more disciplined, against Bowling Green he got sucked inside or otherwise took poor angles to the ball on occasion. The Badgers will use him on a variety of blitzes, some delayed, outside, inside, he's their favorite blitzer. He's also the teams best cover linebacker. At Mike linebacker is Mark Zalewski. Zalewski isn't a very athletic guy but he's one of those pure football players. Takes good angles to the play, tackles well and can blitz well. Not the best in coverage but I like his overall game and in my opinion he's the team's best defensive player. Strongside linebacker LaMarr Watkins is a guy they are not afraid to bring on outside blitzes. Watkins may struggle if they run at him but he's a very athletic guy who can cover well and chase down a play. Again, Travis Beckum could see time here as well. The depth at linebacker is extremely young like the defensive line.
#17 Allen Langford, 5'11-187, Freshman
#21 Levonne Rowan, 6'1-191, Senior
#6 Brett Bell, 6'0-200, Senior
#27 Jack Ikegwuonu 6'1-199, Freshman
#22 Roderick Rogers, 6'2-181, Junior
#26 Zach Hampton, 5'10-178, Junior
#16 Joe Stellmacher, 6'1-216, Junior
#4 Johnny White, 6'2-217, Junior
This unit got trashed against Omar Jacobs and Bowling Green. They've played better the past two games but Temple and North Carolina aren't exactly passing power house teams. I've always been a fan of Brett Bell but he just does not look fully recovered from his knee injury. He is still the big hitting, short cover man but he may struggle in deep zone and deep man coverage routes. Levonne Rowan has been demoted after getting embarrassed against Bowling Green. Between the penalties and big plays he let up, this kid hasn't changed his inconsistent ways. He's a great athlete but so much more goes into the position than that. He just needs to be more comfortable and confident out there. His replacement is Allen Langford, a physically gifted kid who has played pretty well the past two weeks. Roderick Rogers was another player who played terrible against Bowling Green but has improved the last couple weeks. Michigan will be a big test for him. Zach Hampton, a Jim Leonhard type player should see the field. Just like Leonhard, Hampton is a former walk-on who isn't the biggest or fastest but is always around the ball when he's out there. Joe Stellmacher has stepped in at strong safety the past two weeks well, collecting 12 tackles on the year. Michigan will also be his first big test.
The Badger Defense Overall:
This is a well-coached group, and despite the massive loss of experience due to graduation and injury, this unit has held on. The defensive line has played much better than they should be given the circumstances but they don't have a featured pass rusher yet with Cooper out and Ware slowed by illness. Matthew Shaughnessy will really have to step up as a true freshman to fill the role. Hayden is the only player who has impressed me inside, I think Newkirk, while aggressive and athletic cannot anchor against Michigan's strong interior line. The linebackers have played well as expected. I really like Zalewski's game, he's a good one in the middle. Watkins and Sanders are tough, athletic guys on film but I think Michigan can negate some of their ability by running at them. The secondary is the key to this game. This group got shredded against Bowling Green, even though they are a pass heavy team, the big plays were unacceptable. There isn't much experience here outside of Bell and after a few depth chart shakeups, Michigan is the first big test for these newcomers. I expect to see some line stunts, they've worked the last couple of games for the Badgers and they have the personnel to do them. The linebackers were very aggressive against Bowling Green, blitzing a lot. Wisconsin uses a variety of blitzes, they will delay a blitz with Zalewski in the middle or come from the edge with Sanders and/or Watkins. The problem is the secondary usually has to play man coverage, from which they've given up some big plays. They will likely mix zone and man but expect them to take their chances trying to rush Henne. The front four lacks a proven pass rusher and this secondary is going to need some help so it's up to defensive coordinator Bret Bielema to get pressure on Chad Henne.
Wisconsin Defense Film Evaluation
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