Spring Q&A: Chris Borland

One of the leaders on Wisconsin's defense, senior middle linebacker Chris Borland talks about the coaching transition, the play of the defense and how he is approaching his final spring.

How have you felt the defense has executed this spring?

Chris Borland: So far I think we have done a great job. We have a lot of new things in. We are seeing new things as well from the offense, so there are a lot to adjust to mentally. We've approach it with the right attitude. I think we're good, but we've got a long way to go.

What's it like having a mostly brand-new defensive staff with a lot of new ideas, new formations and new attitude? What's that been like as a group?

Borland: To be honest, I don't think it's as much transition as you think. In the past, we've plugged one or two guys into the existing defense and I think that's more difficult because of communicating with one another. Even though it's an entirely new defense, the staff has worked together, so they know how it works. The approach for us has been simple.

With so many veteran guys returning, you have that communication and chemistry with one another. How has that helped the transition?

Borland: I think it will. We have some guys out right now, but I think we are a mature group and we can understand complex schemes. The new system hasn't been difficult for us. We have a lot of smart guys, as well, so we're handling it well.

You are healthy, have no issues with your shoulders and this is your last spring. How have you approached this spring?

Borland: I think I can take a pretty simple, direct approach because so many things are new and continue to get better. Some of techniques are different in our new scheme, so I have a lot to work on.

Being a middle linebacker now heading into your third year, how much comfortable are you getting with each week studying and taking repetitions at that position?

Borland: First off I am very comfortable with it. Two-plus years are a long time to play one position at the college level. It feels like home to me. I am comfortable playing that position. It's not too much different playing the Mike in a 3-4 versus a 4-3.We basically have two Mike linebackers now. It's really the same old stuff: read and react. That's what I like to do, and that's where I felt comfortable.

How do you like the aggression your defense seems to be playing with this spring?

Borland: I love it. I think that's the way defenses should play. We should be attacking. Everybody on our defense is getting excited about that style.

Your front seven has a lot of veteran guys. Does that excite you for what you guys could do when everyone is healthy and everyone is contributing?

Borland: Yeah it definitely does. The mental aspect of that is just understanding one another, having seven veteran guys up front understanding the scheme. We've been able to run checks and things that we haven't been able to do my whole career here. It'll only get better once everybody gets back.

How much do you like working with Dave Aranda and the things he brings to the table?

Borland: I love the speed he has given us. Personally he's a great teacher. He's a soft-spoken cerebral guy, and I think with an older group that's good. I have enjoyed that thus far and look forward to it continuing.

Does Gary Andersen let you guys work and chip in once in awhile or is he in there getting his hands dirty?

Borland: He certainly lets his assistants work, but at the same time he steps in, literally, in drills with players. He has a firm grasp of what's going on at each position. He talks to me in passing about a particular play, an alignment and to be that in tune to his players is pretty impressive.

What's it like to have him jump right in a drill and compete with you guys? How do you guys respond?

Borland: It's fun. When you see that head guy taking it upon himself to do things like that, it's funny. Guys think it's a good time and that's what football should be. It should be creating a fun atmosphere and I think we're responding well to that.

You mentioned taking a simple approach to spring. How did you approach the weight room in the winter and getting your body ready for the season?

Borland: You can always increase strength, but I don't need to get any bigger. That's something I have been doing along with injury prevention, or ‘pre hab,' to stay flexible and strong. I am not trying to gain weight or anything.

As a captain last year, how did you embrace that role and what did you take away from being one of the six captains last year?

Borland: It was an honor. There weren't many juniors that have been a captain before. For me it was an easy team to lead and we did things the right way, so you didn't have to get on guys very often. I let the seniors do the bulk of the work. It was there last year, so even though you were a captain you have to let them enjoy their last go around.

It may have been an easy team to lead, but it wasn't the easiest road for you guys either.

Borland: That's true, but we just kept our nose to the grindstone. We understood our situation with other teams being ineligible. We slipped up a couple times, but did enough to get to Indy and make it to the Rose Bowl.

What do you think your goals are going to be for this team this year?

Borland: On paper in early April we have a lot going our way, but so much can change from now until the season. We really don't know what we have yet. The sky is the limit, but we have to get the rubber to the road before we can make any predictions.

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