Defensive Integrity

The first time Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema went against a former defensive coordinator, the Badgers lost s 33-31 shootout to Northwestern. Facing an old coach this weekend in Dave Doeren, No.7 Wisconsin is preparing for similar challenges.

MADISON - While Aaron Henry played only a little in Wisconsin's game against Northwestern two years ago, he knew something felt different.

With former Badgers defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz manning the Wildcats' defense, Northwestern had the inside track on many of the Badgers' schemes. As a result, the Wildcats shredded Wisconsin's defense for 437 yards in a 33-31 win.

"Supposedly Coach Hankwitz knew everything and rightfully so, being that he was the d-coordinator here," Henry said.

No. 7 Wisconsin will be presented with a similar challenge Saturday when it visits Northern Illinois, which is coached by former Badgers defensive coordinator Dave Doeren, at 2:30 p.m. at Soldier Field.

The Huskies (1-1) hired Doeren, who spent the last three of his five years with Wisconsin (2-0) as defensive coordinator, in December to replace Jerry Kill, who now coaches at Minnesota.

"I'm sure it's going to be a fun game," Henry said. "I'm sure he's going to have something up his sleeve."

The Badgers' defense ranked in the top 25 nationally the past two seasons under Doeren – 22nd (323.5 yards per game) a season ago and 17th (305.7) in 2009.

With Wisconsin returning seven starters defensively, Doeren has a vast knowledge of the Badgers' personnel. But Wisconsin co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash notes Doeren and Northern Illinois won't know everything Wisconsin will be doing defensively.

"Since he's left, we've made changes to the defense. Not wholesale changes, but we've made enough changes," Ash said. "There's going to be a lot of things he's not sure about what we're doing. He's going to know our personnel and things like that, but they still have to block us and make throws and make catches."

Even Doeren admits that while he may be familiar with the Badgers' strategies, his players will still be presented with quite a test stopping their opponent. Wisconsin averaged a whopping 43.3 points per game last year, which ranked fourth in the country.

The Badgers have continued that offensive success this season, scoring a total of 86 points in victories over UNLV and Oregon State.

"I know their coaches, I know their personnel, so I can look at certain things on film and the things that aren't obvious I can clear up," Doeren said. "They are going to do what they do. I think you can ask any coach in the country when you play, they aren't about tricking you. They are about playing better technique and being stronger and tougher than you are. That's what made them a good program for a long time."

Regardless of its opponent's coach, Wisconsin will have its collective hands full against a Huskies' offense that has scored more than 40 points each of the first two games.

Northern Illinois senior quarterback Chandler Harnish has thrown for 510 yards and seven touchdowns, while rushing for 169 yards and four touchdowns.

"They're a very good, high-powered offense," senior cornerback Antonio Fenelus said of Northern Illinois. "They put a lot of points up on the board. We've got to just play like we've been playing these past two weeks and just follow our rules and keys, and we'll be good."

While Hankwitz, who served as Wisconsin's defensive coordinator in 2006 and '07, and Northwestern got the best of the Badgers in 2009, Wisconsin did get some revenge against its former coach. The Badgers earned a share of the Big Ten conference title last season after racking up 559 yards of offense in a 70-23 defeat of the Wildcats.

"It's all about Wisconsin," Henry said. "Any time we go and play another team, we never really focus on the opponent, we really focus on us. I feel like if we go out there and do what we've been doing and handle our responsibilities and play Wisconsin football, which entails no penalties, which entails playing smart, which entails flying to the football every single down, I think we can go out there and be successful."

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