Borland, Taylor together at last

After sitting a week out with an injury to his right shoulder, Chris Borland will start Saturday against Arizona State. Going up against a pass-heavy offense, Badger fans can expect to see a lot of Borland pass rushes in the 3-3-5 defense.

MADISON — As the saying goes, Chris Borland and Mike Taylor are chomping at the proverbial bit.

For the first time Saturday, Wisconsin's top two linebackers will start together in a game and give a preview of what — hopefully — the future looks like the next three years for the linebacking core.

Injuries have prevented the two sophomores from seeing much of the field together so far. Taylor tore his ACL in week seven last year, with Borland replacing him in the starting lineup. Borland missed last week's San Jose State contest after he tweaked his surgically repaired right shoulder, while Taylor took the field to test out his right knee for the first time this season.

With the playmaking abilities of the two on the field at the same time — Taylor was the team's leading tackler until his injury last season and Borland finished second on the team in sacks and led the squad in forced fumbles — head coach Bret Bielema will have what must seem to him as an embarrassment of riches at his disposal.

Starting the game at both outside linebacker spots, Borland and Taylor are excited to feed off one another against Arizona State.

"That is going to be fun," Borland said starting with Taylor for the first time. "I am looking forward to it."

"Chris is a heck of an athlete," Taylor said.

"He is an every down player, he just knows what he is doing. He is fun to play with."

For both Borland and Taylor, recovering from injury has been an interesting process.

Interesting, because while both have rehabilitated quicker then expected, neither was satisfied with the amount of time they had to miss.

Last season Borland created a homemade shoulder sling to hide his injury from the coaches. Sitting out the San Jose State game, Bielema allowed Borland to suit up for the game, but ordered his helmet removed from the bench, lest Borland was tempted to sneak in and play.

Borland was finally cleared to practice this week, a sigh of relief for both Bielema and the sophomore linebacker.

"It has been good, I have been moving around well," Borland said of practice this week. "I basically had a week off, so I am feeling good."

Taylor's recovery was a different story. Suffering a season ending injury for the second consecutive year, Taylor was able to fast track his recovery with help from a teammate.

Defensive lineman and friend Pat Muldoon tore his ACL roughly a week after Taylor went down, and the two of them have been rehabbing together.

"We learned from each other," Taylor said. "We could both test stuff together, see what feels good, learn where the other one was at. It made it easier to know what was normal."

"When I am playing, it kind of loosens up and I start to forget about it. [It is on my mind] at first, but then I kind of get motion in it, and its fine."

To utilize their playmaking abilities, both Borland and Taylor will spend time in Wisconsin's "Badger" defense, a 3-3-5 scheme designed to create "confusion and havoc" as Borland puts it.

With Arizona State relying on the pass like the Badgers use the ground game, Badger fans should expect to see a lot of the "Badger" defense Saturday. After the secondary was subject to criticism against San Jose State, Bielema thinks the addition of Borland and Taylor will helps his defensive backs out.

"I think if you are any guy involved in coverage and you know ‘44' is rushing you feel better," Bielema said.

"Everybody when you are talking about pass defense looks at what the DBs have given up, but there is a thing called rush that determines what kind of success a quarterback can have."


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