Spring Q&A: Michael Caputo

After originally moving to outside linebacker at the start of spring, Michael Caputo proved to be too valuable of an asset to move out of the defensive backfield. BadgerNation talks with Caputo about his improvement since last season and his take on the new identity of the defense.

You mention last season that the main goal for you this offseason would be adding strength. How did you go about doing that?

Michael Caputo: I just stuck to Coach Simon's lift program and I just stayed on top of eating healthier and gaining more weight. I put some good weight on and really feel a lot stronger.

Did Coach Simon's weight program change much from last season to this season? If so, what was the big difference this season?

Caputo: Nothing really changed. His program stayed the same. He kept us gaining strength, but he kept us staying agile. It wasn't just a total body building type deal. It was more being able to see how fast you can run, how high you can jump and improving upper-body strength.

Do you guys feel you have improved across the board to become a stronger, more agile group?

Caputo: We definitely do. Personally I do. I think the coaches put us in the best positions to be a more explosive defense. The weight definitely helped with that.

Why do you feel you guys weren't as explosive last season as you have been in past years, not putting up the big sacks or tackles for loss numbers?

Caputo: I can't really answer that. There's a lot of factors that came into play, but we were a better defense than we have been in past years. Personally I feel that way and not because I played on it. The numbers say so, maybe not in sacks, but we definitely made stops when we needed to.

It's not that we weren't explosive last year, but we were more stout, bigger on the front. We had Chris Borland, Ethan Armstrong, Brendan Kelly, Conor O'Neill and they were taking on big guys when we played teams like Iowa. I think the coaches noticed the efficiency when we played teams like Arizona State or Ohio State, and we even hung in there with those guys. We made these changes so we can be more explosive than we were last year in terms of speed to the ball.

Instead of being a team that hangs in there against Arizona State and Ohio State, how do you become a team that dominates those opponents and puts up the kind of numbers you would against an Indiana or BYU? Have you made those changes or do you need to continue to transition?

Caputo: We're still transitioning into the best defense we can be each week. We're still stepping out the ladder to see how good we can get. We're definitely going to out tough teams. That's known in Wisconsin, but the scheme of things and how last year went really helped us as a defense to stop teams like BYU. To stop guys like Braxton Miller back there, although there were a couple plays here and there that he got us. I think we did pretty well as a defense last year. If we didn't have it at the skill aspect, we definitely made up for it in scheme and toughness.

How important is the carryover effect that you have all the same coaches, coordinators and virtually the same scheme as last year, especially since it's been a rotation door with coaches here the last couple of year? The consistency to build on that has to be big for you guys as a group?

Caputo: Yeah, it's good to have the same guys in here. It's been tough. I know the linebackers have had a new guy in here each of the last couple of years, but coach Aranda is back again. That's a good thing. To stick with one guy and learn one scheme through a couple years definitely helps you become better.

In your first start two seasons ago you were pulled by halftime. Last season you started 12 games. What were some of the learning lessons you took away from last year?

Caputo: That first Illinois game I played in, I had the freshman jitters. The speed was faster than I predicted. Last year I felt I did decently well for us. The Penn State game was a weird thing how we just didn't play well that game. I can't say we would have done any better if I was in there. Coach Andersen put me in position to where they need me in front and they need guys faster up front. I feel like I will excel at my spot.

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