Caputo Competing from Within

After getting a brief taste of starting experience last season, redshirt sophomore Michael Caputo has taken last year's learning lessons and applied them to his game, putting him in position for more playing time in 2013.

MADISON - Getting his first starting opportunity for Wisconsin in just his second season, Michael Caputo starting experience was short lived.

After getting beat for two pass plays on the first two drives in a home game against Illinois last season, appearing to struggling adjusting to the speed, Wisconsin yanked Caputo and replaced him with Shelton Johnson, who missed three weeks with a broken arm.

But while Caputo could look at the experience as a huge letdown, the ramifications and learning lessons given to him were invaluable.

"That week I really tried to prepare myself," said Caputo. "I knew I was ready. I knew I could do it, but I was a freshman in loud noises and a big stage. I wasn't as ready as I should have, but I am learning from that now with this season.

"This is big time. I am not longer a freshman. I want to help these seniors."

Working at and learning both safety spots throughout two weeks of fall camp, Caputo is on the short list of players who have flashed in the Wisconsin secondary, allowing the Badgers some flexibility at the position.

"A lot of film throughout the summer and a lot of reps with the other safeties," said Caputo on what he did to get prepared. "Safety is very familiar to me having played in the past two years with the defenses we've had. It all carries over. Just learning this new scheme, I get this scheme so that makes it a lot more comfortable for me."

The difference in this scheme, according to Caputo, is the mentality. In past seasons Wisconsin's defense would adjust its 4-3 look depending on the formations of the offense. This season in the 3-4, the Badgers are going to make opponents adjust to them.

It's worked well so far in practice, as Wisconsin's defense has been dominant against the offense, including Monday's scrimmage and Thursday morning's practice where the defense didn't allow any scores by the offense. On both those days Caputo has either registered an interception, broken up a key pass or registered a sack.

"When one of us gets a pick, it adds a little morale and confidence," said Caputo. "You really notice things in the film room. So even though I got a pick, I find ways where I can get there faster. You always have to evaluate yourself."

Like many of his teammates, the film room has been the biggest area of growth for Caputo. Now with Wisconsin's players getting new iPads, Caputo watches film whenever he had a couple free minutes, allowing him to watch between three and four more hours of film a day compared to last season.

"I can go home, watch film before I go to bed, watch a little when I get up and I don't always have to come in," said Caputo. "It's a weapon. It's definitely going to help us."

The plan is for Wisconsin over the next few practices to solidify who is going to start opposite Southward at the strong safety position, meaning this Monday's second scrimmage of fall camp will be one of the final testing points. However, Wisconsin also will utilize a formation that calls for three safeties on the field, meaning depth is critical at the position.

Unlike in past years when Caputo would drive himself crazy competing with his teammates, choosing to focus on only his game has allowed him to have one of the best camp stretches of his young career.

"One thing that I went wrong with in the past was competing with others," said Caputo. "If someone would get a pick, I would want two picks. If I compete with myself maybe I can do more, maybe I can run faster and maybe I could get three picks."

And with that, his goal for this season is simple.

"Just completely understand the defense, play football again and trust my instincts. I just want to leave it all on the field. That's the only thing I got."

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