Musings from Maragos

After two standout seasons in the Wisconsin secondary, Chris Maragos is collecting a NFL paycheck in San Francisco, having just been activated to the 49ers active roster. He also joins Badger Nation for a weekly insider look at Wisconsin football, talking this week about the last two road games and looking ahead to Indiana.

MADISON - Even between jetting from London and the States, 49ers safety Chris Maragos wasn't going to miss his Alma Mater take on Iowa. He wasn't disappointed.

Spending his first two weeks on the NFL sidelines, Maragos witnessed the Badgers overcome a late deficit to shock Iowa and his former defensive mates create four turnovers, which led to 24 points in UW's 34-13 victory over Purdue last weekend.

Now as he prepares for the St. Louis Rams, Maragos continues his weekly feature with Badger Nation.

Badger Nation: Before we start talking about Wisconsin, talk about the experience of the last two weeks being on a NFL sideline and proudly wearing that San Francisco uniform?

Maragos: I didn't get to play, but the cool thing is putting on that uniform that shows that you are there, you have reach the pinnacle of a football career. I think the biggest thing that excited me is going to practice and my helmet is sitting down next to me. Looking at the San Francisco logo, you think about all the different players that have worn it. Ronnie Lott, Steve Young, Joe Montana, all those guys that have played there and you are a part of that organization. It's very humbling and really neat.

Badger Nation: Back-to-back road wins for the Badgers for the first time since 2006 and two games in which the team faced different kinds of adversity. Seeing them overcome that, could that two week stretch be a bigger confidence boost than the Ohio State game was?

Maragos: I think when you look at the dynamics of a Purdue game. It's a difficult one because you are coming off two big wins and a bye week. You are trying to get healthy and get guys and playing in a place like that is difficult, especially against a young quarterback who you don't know much about. That stuff is more dangerous because Purdue is going to simplify the game plan, get the ball out quick, run a lot of screens and draws and all those different things. I think the Badgers defensively in the first half got an idea of what the game plan was, make adjustments and come out in the second half and turn it up. With a young QB, they aren't going to have the whole playbook for him to use. Fortunately for the Badgers, Purdue had to have its quarterback beat them and you saw how that turned out in the Badgers' favor.

Badger Nation: How tough is the Pistol offense to defend and how much does it differ from other spread offenses in the Big Ten?

Maragos: The Pistol is one of those things where it's very difficult to defend if the team has the right personnel in place to run it. That's exactly what Indiana has. They have a quarterback who, in my opinion, was one of the better guys we faced last year. Guys don't hear about Indiana or Tandom Doss or the other receivers who can play. They have a quarterback that can fling the ball and put the ball in all the spots he wants to.

Honestly, this is one of the games that scares me the most because I really feel this is a trap game. It's going to be a very good challenge for the Badgers. Because of where the Badgers are at in the Big Ten and with their ranking, every team is going to give the Badgers their best shot, especially with Indiana and its potent offense. It's going to be a tough match-up.

Badger Nation: Do you think if Ben Chappell was at a different school like Ohio State, Michigan or Notre Dame that he would get more publicity?

Maragos: I think he's a dynamic guy because he has a really good understanding of himself, the offense that Indiana run and of the defense's coverages. He's a type of guy that can make all the throws necessary and he can play some ball. He really composes himself and can take it to other teams. That's why Indiana plays tough against so many teams because Chappell can move the ball. They beat Iowa if their receiver makes the catch. He's a type of guy that if he goes to a bigger school, a lot more people know about him and how good he is.

Badger Nation: You've been on a team that has a victory snatched from your fingers in the final minutes (Ohio State 2008) and then had to prepare for another difficult task the following week (Penn State). How tough is it to overcome a bitter loss you put so much effort and energy into only to have to regroup for a tougher test the next week?

Maragos: You really have to understand the personnel and dynamics of your team. If you have the right guys who are resilient and tough, it's not as deflating. They are going to get up and go, a lot like the Badgers bouncing back from the loss to Michigan State. In these past few guys, they have the right guys to not let a setback hurt them in the future. If you have the wrong guys, it can really disrupt some things. It is tough though, when you lose at the last second to a really good team at home. I think finding that urge down inside to keep going hard means the Badgers are going to get their best shot.

Badger Nation: What are your thoughts of buddy Jay Valai playing last week with a torn calf muscle?

Maragos: I haven't talked to him about him, but I think a guy like Jay Valai is such an emotional guy. He's an emotional leader, he leads by his example and his play, he's aggressive and does all sorts of things. He has a love for the game and he wants to put his body and himself on the line for the guys he's playing with. Especially being a senior, I think he realizes how special it is being in a leadership role and for him to go out there and play, it's not easy, especially as a defensive back backpedaling and making breaks on the ball. A lot of pushing off comes from your quadriceps and your calf. I tell you what, he has to be in pain the whole game and he battled through it, which is a prime example of what your leader should be like.

Badger Nation: Like the Badgers, you are 8-1 on the season. What's your prediction for this weekend in Madison?

Maragos: I think the Badgers are playing so well, especially when they have the home-field advantage. This is a year where the guys really understand what they have to play for and they play for each other. The coaches have been putting the guys in great positions to make plays and I think the formula is right for this year. I think Chappell and the special teams will pose a tough challenge and I think it will be a lot tougher game than people realize. Hopefully it's not, but definitely a Badgers win, 34-24.


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