Secondary Regains Some Swagger

After getting beaten badly in the passing game last weekend, Wisconsin's young secondary bounces back by allowing only 135 passing yards and securing one interception in No.24 Wisconsin's 41-10 blowout over Purdue.

MADISON - Cornerback Sojourn Shelton is not use to losing his "swagger."

A Florida cornerback whose big play ability landed him dozens of scholarships, Shelton was humbled in last weekend's 32-30 loss at Arizona State; a game in which the Sun Devils threw for 352 yards and the true freshman was flagged three times for pass interference or holding.

For a guy whose nickname in high school was "Shelton Island," regaining the "swagger" was first and foremost in the week of preparation leading up to Saturday's conference opener.

"Our coaches preached that we need to regain our ‘swagger' and regain that confidence that we lost in the Arizona State game." Shelton said. "We played our game and remained aggressive on not only defense but on offense."

With a tough opponent on the road Ohio State next weekend, the Badgers secondary knew they need to step it up in every aspect, especially considering the Buckeyes slung it around for 603 total yards and 76 points against FCS opponent Florida A&M earlier in the day.

The secondary took its first step toward regaining that mojo in its 41-10 beating of Purdue Saturday. Not only did Wisconsin limit the passing game to 135 yards, the Badgers didn't allow a pass over 19 and wasn't flagged for one defensive penalty; stats that made sophomore cornerback Darius Hillary smile when he was informed of them.

"It makes us feel good on the back end knowing that we are doing our job effectively," said Hillary. "We know that every week will be something different, but opening Big Ten play like this really made us confident in our play as a whole."

"We know that we need to remain aggressive and fix little things like missed tackles and missed reads," added Shelton.

Even though the Badgers had every right to sulk following their loss in Tempe, a game that drew national buzz because of the officiating error that cost Wisconsin a chance to kick the game-winning field, confidence was a word that was thrown around the locker room all week.

"Playing at Arizona State compared to Camp Randall is night and day," said Shelton. "Personally, I gained a lot of confidence and experience just being on the road at Arizona State. That atmosphere was incredible and I expect the atmosphere in Ohio to be beyond incredible."

Along with confidence and experience, Shelton brought up playing successful against a tough opponent in Ohio State.

"Purdue was a tough opponent, but ‘O State' is as tough as it gets, especially being a freshman," said Shelton. "This game helped us become more aggressive on both sides of the ball. We need to go back on Monday and listen to what the coaches have to say about our play.

With five total tackles which was good for second on the team, Shelton seemed to be an "energizer bunny" of sorts when called upon. One moment he was calm and collected, and the next, he was disrupting the quarterback with the constant pass rush.

The dagger for Shelton came when he intercepted Purdue quarterback Rob Henry on fourth-and-goal with 5:32 remaining in the game, preserving the Badgers' second-half shutout.

"It was very important," Shelton said. "Our coaches stressed that they didn't want (Purdue) to score anymore. The defense overall, the guys up front, they caused (the interception). I give them all the credit."

With two interceptions on the year, Shelton has made his presence quite obvious and "Shelton Island" is in full effect.

"I am already thinking about the Ohio State game next weekend," said Shelton. "I cannot wait to get back to work on Monday and show the Big Ten what we can do.

"We regained the ‘swagger' and the challenge will be to keep that ‘swagger' there for each game."


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