Defensive Line Coming Together

Part of the group that held the Wisconsin offense without a touchdown in the second half, the Badgers' defensive line - led by senior Warren Herring - are starting to build some chemistry.

MADISON - After the defense dominated Wisconsin's offense in last week's scrimmage, one week later did not change much for Wisconsin's offense.

Wisconsin's offense struggled to move the football with any consistency during the annual spring game due to its defense consistently bringing pressure on passing plays or stuffing the run. Not only was Wisconsin's defense able to contain and prevent any big plays, they didn't allow any touchdowns in the second part of the spring game, only allowing two field goals by Jack Russell.

"They started to kind of really gel together," said UW coach Gary Andersen of his defense. "I think they look at themselves as a defense that has the capability and speed to make some big plays, they want to be physical, but I think they've gained some confidence. They've got a little juice when they take the field, which I like."

With Wisconsin targeting defensive linemen with more overall speed, the Badgers have developed a sound rotation that goes three deep at all three positions on the line. With Wisconsin consistently having fresh bodies throughout the game, senior nose tackle Warren Herring believes that it will be a weapon for the Badgers.

"It gives us a lot more weapons that we can attack you in a whole bunch of different ways," Herring said. "That's the philosophy that coach (Dave) Aranda has for this defense, being able to attack you in a lot of different ways, disguising and things like that, and I think that adds another element."

For instance, Herring will see some time at defensive end this upcoming fall, taking advantage of his ability to be a pass rusher, because the Wisconsin coaching staff has been pleased with the emergence of redshirt senior Bryce Gilbert and redshirt sophomore Arthur Goldberg.

"The ability to move Warren from the nose to the end is something that we will continue to work with in fall camp," Andersen said. "It may be by package. The fact that Warren plays a zero and a nose, he can do that, and he's proven he can do that. He's a valuable player, and we need to make sure we get him on the field in the right spots. Warren's challenge is to be prepared to play upwards of 60 snaps a game, so he's got to get himself in shape to be able to handle that."

Herring expected his role on the defense to grow after Wisconsin lost four members off of its defensive line rotation last year. Even though Herring was a backup to NFL-hopeful Beau Allen, he still managed to finish the season third on the team in tackles for loss with six behind Chris Borland (8.5) and Brendan Kelly (7). He also tied with Borland for second on the team with four sacks.

"One of my big goals is being more consistent," Herring said. "So I feel as though, in order that I can help the defense from my standpoint is by getting more pressure and making more tackles in the backfield helping my defense get off the field."

Even though the defense has been dominant throughout camp, Andersen does admit a question mark going into fall camp will be whether or not they'll be able to consistently stop the run, especially since UW's offense was limited throughout camp.

"There's a lot more injuries on the offensive side of the football or a lot more pieces of the puzzle that I don't allow to be there, two tailbacks that we all know are special," Andersen said. "There's a lot of that stuff there that you don't see that much in the spring. They have to stop the run against us, and then the first opponent runs the ball really well, so we will know early."

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