Spring Q&A: Derek Landisch

With Wisconsin transitioning to a 3-4 defense, the Badgers need more middle linebackers. Having played in every game his first two seasons on campus, junior Derek Landisch is playing his way into one of those roles.

Having played in all 28 games your first two seasons, how do you describe your road the last two years?

Derek Landisch: It's been really fun. It's taught me a lot of life lessons. I always believed that football is the ultimate teacher of life. It's really taught me that anything you do, you have to put the work in day in and day out. In football, for example, it's putting the work in the film room. On the field, you can't be off our game one day, and that's kind of how you approach life no matter what you do. It's been a fun ride so far.

You played a lot of reps with the defense in blowouts your freshman year. How much did those experiences help you develop?

Landisch: It just gives you confidence. Coming in as a freshman you are kind of shaky, seeing some of these guys as the biggest human beings you have ever seen. Just being out on the field and knowing that you can play in the Big Ten, knowing your assignment and you executed, it just gives you confidence. When you go out there the next time, you aren't thinking and you aren't nervous. Sometimes when you play too nervous, you are uptight and you start making mistakes.

With three linebacker coaches in three years, how have you embraced the constant change at the position with different coaches, different ideas and a different way of doing things?

Landisch: All three have helped me. Each coach brings something new to the table, and that's something I can benefit from. Learning something from Coach Hux, learning something from Coach Buh, learning something from Coach Aranda, they are all great coaches. They have moved on to other places, but they've still made an impact here for all of us. As long as we can take something away from what they taught us and always remember it, we can put that toward our game that is going to help us in the long run.

What's the big thing you have learned from Dave Aranda since he came here?

Landisch: He really emphasizes footwork. Sometimes we are too fast and sometimes we are too slow. His defense is really aggressive. It's really fun to play in, so he emphasizes footwork in order to make plays. He wants us to have fun and be aggressive.

You are working at the rover linebacker position, which is a new tweak to Wisconsin's defense this season. Explain that position.

Landisch: The rover is almost essentially the same as the Mac (middle) linebacker. There are two inside linebackers and two outside linebackers, the ‘F' and the ‘B.' The rover and Mac are inside linebackers.

Wisconsin has been a 4-3 defense for a long time, so how have you and the other players embraced the change and the transition?

Landisch: I like it a lot. It's really fun to play in, it's really aggressive and we've had a lot of transition here, so we know how to embrace it. You just go with it and it'll make you better in the long run.

The defense was solid last year but you didn't create a lot of turnovers. Is this new defense something you think that is going to help you guys create more positive plays going forward?

Landisch: Absolutely because that's something Coach Aranda emphasizes – bats, strips and rips. If we're conscious of that and we're a real aggressive defense, that's going to force turnovers.

You had an idea that you would have an opportunity to play this year, so how did you take that opportunity in the weight room to build your body and give yourself the best positive opportunity?

Landisch: Just being in the best shape that I can, trying to put on weight and trying to maintain weight. That's something I have had trouble with as far as the season goes. I've been really focused at maintaining my weight throughout spring camp, which I have so far at about 228 pounds. We have goal weights here, so just maintaining that goal weight and being at the best shape I can. I played around 220 last year, but I was closer to 230 at fall camp. I lost a lot of weight and I had trouble keeping it.

How much progress do you think you have made from practice one to practice eight? Where are you feeling comfortable?

Landisch: I am getting better at just knowing the scheme. No practice is perfect, but as a player you try to come out and make it perfect. Definitely just being consistent in your run fits, your alignments and the scheme. I think I have grown in just being more aggressive. I feel stronger physically in taking on blocks.

I feel comfortable anywhere. I just want to play football. Wherever the coaches want me to weight or wherever they want to put me, that's how much I want to play.

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