"I think it's just the way we practice," said senior cornerback Antonio Fenelus. "Once (defensive coordinator) Chris Ash sees something that we need to work on, he definitely stresses it during the week. We do a lot of drills that work on getting takeaways and just preparing that way. We have ‘Takeaway Tuesday' and ‘Perfect Wednesday,' so we just go out there and work."
After picking off Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez three times two weeks ago, Wisconsin got to Indiana quarterback Edward Wright-Baker twice. Both times coming in the second quarter with Fenelus intercepting a pass at the goal line on fourth down and senior Aaron Henry picking off a pass and returning it 18 yards with 50 seconds remaining in the first half, giving the Badgers offense time to work.
"A coaching point there, I told (Fenelus) he should've knocked it down," said Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema, referring to the 15 lost yards because of the pick. "I'm probably being overly critical. Antonio really just competes on every play. Any ball that's thrown in his area, he's going to get his hands on it. He's going to be the one the one that gets truly rewarded in the end. He's playing himself into an NFL opportunity by playing so well at our level."
Fenelus has been able to pick off a pass in each of the past two games. Despite being constantly undersized against his assignment, Fenelus embraces the challenge by the opposing receivers.
"I prepare that way every day," Fenelus said. "I know I'm going to get tried, so I try to work hard and make sure I'm in good position every time. We take it as a challenge. We bet each other for who gets the first pick, and then when Aaron (Henry) and I both had one; it's who is going to get the second pick. We just keep it fun and make sure we entertain out there."
Just for extra measure, the Badgers defense got their third turnover in the game when Wright-Baker couldn't handle the snap and freshmen linebacker Derek Landisch was able to recover the football in the endzone for a touchdown.
"That was the first touchdown we had all year on defense and coach Chris Ash was definitely excited about that," Fenelus said.
Senior wide receiver Nick Toon had sat out against Indiana due to a foot injury that he suffered during the win over Nebraska two weeks ago. Redshirt sophomore Jeff Duckworth got his first career start in Toon's place.
"It went well. I left a couple of things out there that I need to work on. A couple of run blocks that I missed," Duckworth said. "I need to just finish the game cause there were some other catches that I could've made with Joe Brennan at quarterback and there was one other block that I missed."
Toon, who has a well-documented history with foot injuries, has been able to stay injury free so far this season and has put together career numbers because of it.
"We thought there may be a chance of him playing," Bielema said. "He ran around this morning and he didn't feel like he could go 100 percent. They did the x-rays and everything. It's just irritated and aggravated. It's really irritating Nick, I know that, but I think he'll be back this week hopefully he'll be back by Tuesday practice."
Duckworth missed the game against Nebraska due to a concussion that he suffered the previous week against South Dakota. Duckworth's three receptions tied a career high, as he finished with 31 receiving yards.
Toon missing the game allowed sophomore Manasseh Garner and freshmen receivers Fred Willis and Kenzel Doe see some meaningful playing time. Garner and Willis didn't record any stats, but Doe had a reception for one yard in the fourth quarter. Willis had to leave the game early because he suffered a left ankle sprain during the opening kickoff of the second half.
Jared Abbrederis became the primary receiver than for Russell Wilson, leading the team in receptions and receiving yards on the day with four catches and 63 yards. "It just shows that Nick is a great player, but we have other guys, too," Abbrederis said. "You have to pick your poison, but we are excited to get Nick back."
Abbrederis Finds Pay Dirt
Abbrederis is developing as one of the better receivers in the Big Ten, but he has developed into a great punt returner for Wisconsin, a title he backed up by taking back a punt return for 60 yards in the third quarter.
"I really wanted to get Abby a return cause he's pretty special," Bielema said. "He competed obviously the first 40-yards was pretty good but he made the rest of it happen. We felt the big field return was going to be there if we could get one caught without traffic and Abby did a nice job of doing that."
Bielema has been impressed with Abbrederis improvement over time as a punt returner.
"He has a little bit of a knack to see the big field," Bielema said. "He's got tremendous vision, I think he gets a little bit of a benefit that people don't think that white guy can run at the wide receiver position all of a sudden he's behind everybody. It's kind of fun to watch."
On Abbrederis punt return for a touchdown, he had to go back to his high school playing days to get his first career touchdown off of a punt return.
"It was a lot of fun," he said. "The punt return team did a good job getting all of their blocks. I didn't really have to do anything until around the f15-yard line. It was just exciting to be out there. We knew we'd have an opportunity if everybody executed. In high school I was a quarterback and we rushed a lot, so I got a lot of experience running the ball. I was just trying to look back to those days and make some plays."
Russo Gets a Waver
Greg Russo, the Iraq veteran who is fulfilling his dream of being a member of the football team, was able to dress for the Indiana game after Wisconsin's compliance people secured a waiver to let him play one remaining season.
"He's cleared to participate now. If we had one more series he would've played," Bielema said. "Just the appeals process something way beyond me the compliance people were working with it to make sure it happen."
Bielema is slowly working Philip Welch back into the kicking game. Welch made his debut against Nebraska going 6-for-6 on extra points. Not only did Welch handle the PATs against the Hoosiers, but he was able to connect on his only field goal try of the day by making a 38-yard field goal.
Extra Points:UW converted all four of its red-zone attempts during on the day, improving to 97 percent (32 of 33) for the season … Patrick Butrym had a low ankle sprain and is expected to return sooner rather than later … Ethan Armstrong dislocated a finger but further x-rays on his hand were negative.