Musings from Maragos - Purdue

His former university and his current professional team both took one in the loss column this weekend, but safety Chris Maragos gets a big victory by adding a new member to his family. Between flights, Maragos joins Badger Nation for his weekly column against Wisconsin football.

MADISON - As he was getting his wrist taped 90 minutes prior to Seattle's home kickoff against Cincinnati, Chris Maragos was greeted by a Seahawks trainer with a smile on his face and a phone in his hand.

After she was induced into labor Sunday morning, Maragos' wife, Sereh, gave birth to their first child, a healthy baby boy, and called to report that everything went perfect.

"It was wild," Maragos said. "We both decided it was best that I stayed and handled my business, but I flew out right after game. It's an awesome feeling and it's been a wild ride."

The same could be said for the University of Wisconsin, which has dropped two heartbreaking back-to-back games and now is looking to regroup against Purdue this Saturday. In our weekly feature, Maragos talks about bouncing back from another gut wrenching outcome, how the defense can improve and how a team gets its swagger back.

BN: One of the things that struck me about the game was that Wisconsin's defense couldn't get off the field, as Ohio State controlled the ball for 35 minutes, 48 seconds. At what point in a game does fatigue come into play, especially now that we are getting into the season's third month?

Maragos: It all depends on certain situations, like how conditioned you are, how many plays you have been out there for, etc, but when you get out there in the fourth quarter and you have been out on the field a lot, it's tough. It's tough to continue to mentality stay sharp, stay clear and that's where you see a lot of mental busts, teams take over because guys get worn down and they don't stay mentally sharp with the details.

BN: How discipline do you have to be to play in the secondary in college or the NFL because not only are you the last line of defense, a big play is going to draw a lot of eyes on you and what you did wrong?

Maragos: Good question and all the time. The secondary is the most pressure-packed situation because we always say that if the defensive line messes up, the play goes to the linebackers. If the linebackers mess up, the play goes to us. If we mess up, the play goes for a touchdown. That's the biggest thing that you have to be on point, your keys, your assignment, your responsibilities, your eyes have to be in the right spot and if you have one little breakdown, that's enough time for a quarterback and his featured receiver to take advantage of those situations.

BN: In each of your three seasons at Wisconsin, you were a part of at least a two game losing streak (a four-game skid in 2008). A couple of those games, it was easy to see that one loss led to another loss the next week. What is the key for a team to pick yourself up after one heartbreaking loss, let alone two losses in that kind of fashion?

Maragos: You've got to have a short term memory as a football player and an athlete because everyone makes mistakes. You are going to lose games. You are going to lose heartbreakers. I would say the biggest thing is that when you are in those situations like that, you have to remember who you are, you have to remember your swagger and you have to think about the type of player and position you are. The key is pushing through that because that's the hardest time. When that adversity hits and those times come, it's tough, almost two or three times harder, to get back on track because of the situation. It almost seems twice as hard to get a win.

BN: How many times do you think you lost your swagger after a game like Wisconsin has gone through this season and how long did it take for you to get it back? Was it as simple as winning one game?

Maragos: I think as an athlete when you lose a close one and you go back out there, you are trying to find your rhythm again. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth but when you are clicking again, it brings back all the good things from before and it starts going again. But, you have to get back in the rhythm and it's tough to do. It's really tough to do.

BN: What was tougher after a loss – having to sit and reflect in the locker room or having to come out and relive it with the media?

Maragos: It's a different type of feeling. When you are in the locker room, you are thinking where we go from here and what do we do and how do we bounce back. You look at the coaches and the guys and the hours and hours of preparation they put in all week and the physical toll it takes getting ready for a game. When you go out and talk to the media, you might have to relive some of the mistakes that you made and you feel like you might have let your team down by some of the things that you didn't do well. Anytime you are losing and stuff, it's tough but winning cures all heartaches in the world.

BN: Ohio State has often been referred to by Bret Bielema and the players as one of the measuring sticks in the Big Ten. That having said, what's your reaction to Wisconsin having lost four of the last five to Ohio State?

Maragos: I think the Wisconsin program is on the right track. Coach Bielema does a great job, he's a great coach and he really understands what makes a team work well together. It's all about the chemistry and the leadership guys, but Ohio State has been good for so long and have such a strong tradition dating back for a long time. That's why they are a team to measure yourself against because they are so tough and they are tough at home. They constantly win, and you are constantly measuring yourself up to what they are doing.

BN: After being so productive in the three games before this losing streak, can you tell that the Badgers defense has only forced one turnover and no interceptions in the last two weeks?

Maragos: Yeah, it's all about the ball and the ball is so crucial to the team's success. You see teams in the plus margin of the turnovers, they are usually putting up a lot of wins in the win-loss column. You have to find that rhythm and I think the guys have to put themselves in situations to go out and make some plays. They have to execute and make plays, and the whole team is tied in to each other with the defensive line and the linebackers. It all really roles together and everybody has to be clicking on the same page.

BN: Ohio State went 11 of 20 on third down and 1 of 1 on fourth downs, numbers that aren't going to help you win a lot of football games. From what you have seen what needs to be better to get Wisconsin's offense off the field?

Maragos: I think they need to execute the plays that are called better. Really, it's the defensive call that is going to put your defense in a good situation. It's about understanding your matchups, being assignment sound and if you do those things, you are going to have advantages to make plays.

BN: Wisconsin has won five straight games in this series and hasn't lost to the Boilermakers since 2003. Despite the one sidedness of the series, what problems did Purdue traditionally present to you from an offensive standpoint?

Maragos: Purdue has always had a team where they had a good quarterback that can beat you and good players around him. It never seemed like the team quite had the identity or knew how to win or knew how to be consistent, but they always had great athletes. I am sure they still have that. It won't be an easy task. Anytime you play in the Big Ten it's a challenge. I definitely think Wisconsin is the better team by what they do and what they got, but Purdue will present a challenge.

BN: We're both 6-2 this season. When you look at this game, do you think Wisconsin is going to come out clicking or do you think the Badgers are going to struggle and be sluggish after what they've had to endure the last two weeks?

Maragos: That's very interesting to think about. The thing I can tell you that the leadership and character of the guys are there. Coach Bielema has the type of staff and players that won't quit, won't stop and will continue to play and fight. I believe they are going to find their rhythm sooner than later, and I think they'll win 45-24 this weekend.


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