Practice Makes Perfect

When preparing to face an offense that puts up an average of 43 points per game in the Rose Bowl, one would think No.4 Wisconsin and its defense would have a hard time simulating that firepower. How fortunate for the Badgers' 11-man unit that they've been practicing against an explosive offense nearly everyday since August.

MADISON — In the hype of Wisconsin's first Rose Bowl bid in 11 years, the storylines are almost endless.

The Badgers overpowering offense vs. TCU's No. 1 ranked statistical defense. The battle-tested Big Ten (BCS) school up against TCU's 24-1 record over the past two seasons. Power vs. speed. What would happen if a Badger swallowed a Horned Frog?

Lost in that shuffle just little bit is the match-up of the Badgers defense against a TCU squad that put up 43.2 points per game while rushing the ball for 261 yards per contest.

"Obviously everybody talks about their defense, but from what we have seen, their offense is really good too," UW linebacker Mike Taylor said. "They can run the ball, pass the ball, (quarterback Andy Dalton) was considered for the Heisman (Trophy) for a lot of the year."

Running a spread offense variation, the Badgers will be helped by the fact that their last four opponents all employed spread principles. The scout team is a finely-tuned machine at this point for spreading out and running plays that can only be considered the height of exotic at old-fashioned Wisconsin.

According to Taylor, the same principles that helped UW contain Michigan and Big Ten Offensive Player of the year Denard Robinson will apply to TCU:

Remain assignment sound, because one blow responsibility can lead to a touchdown.

"It is the same message we preach against every spread offense team," said Taylor. "But it was especially true of Robinson, because of how fast they could score. For the most part that game, we played pretty well. We just have to focus on every single play doing your job.

"We got better each game."

While six straight weeks of practicing against the spread offense will help, going up against Wisconsin's top-ranked offense might prepare the defense even more.

No, the schemes are not similar (in any way) and the styles are completely different, but the Badgers' offense and Horned Frog offense do share one similar characteristic: they will both make you pay if you make a mistake. And quickly.

"When you play against an offense like ours, there are no plays you can let down," Taylor said. "That is going to be the same against TCU, no plays when they can take off at any time. Going against our offense, there is always someone, where is one person screws up, the whole defense screws up. Same with TCU. If one guy is out of his gap, it could be a touchdown."

That gap responsibility in the run game has been drilled into the team by defensive line coach Charlie Partridge all season.

Any interview with Partridge inevitably goes the same way every single time.

Fundamentals, fundamentals, fundamentals.

"The one thing I know is never bet against Coach Partridge, he is an animal," defensive end J.J. Watt said. "He is an unbelievable defensive line coach and he is the reason we are successful."

Against TCU's offense, the message better sink in.


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