Spring Q&A: Derek Landisch

With the graduation of three senior starters in front of him, senior linebacker Derek Landisch becomes of the leaders of the defense. BadgerNation spoke to Landisch about his development into the leadership position and how his roles have changed since last season.

The linebackers lost a ton of talented seniors last season, making you the senior of the group. What's your mindset coming into this season knowing you're the veteran?

Derek Landisch: Just step up and be a leader. I am not the most vocal guy. That's something I've talked about and put on my goal sheet to be more vocal, in terms of motivating and encouraging guys and also leading by example. That leadership role requires you to bring it day in and day out.

How do you train your personality to become a vocal leader?

Landisch: It's about bringing excitement. You have to be excited to play this game. Just encouraging people, encouraging the defensive line to bow up and get after it. It's important in practice competing against the offense, getting loud and getting after it. It's fun and it's something I am trying to do more.

Would you describe Chris Borland as a vocal guy or more as a guy who led by example?

Landisch: You don't want to say something that's not important. If you have a guy who says too much, I feel it can go in one ear and out the other. Borland always picked his spots to say something. Whatever he said something people listened. That's the key to being a good leader. He always picked the right place and the right times.

Talking to you last year in fall camp, you were excited about the 3-4 defense and how that scheme was going to fit you. You got off to a slow start with a foot injury but as you got healthy, did you think the 3-4 was as good of fit for you as you predicted?

Landisch: Definitely. Just coming out here in spring, we're adding more speed with our personnel and that's going to give us more versatility to attack the spread offenses. I am really excited about our potential.

What part of your game where you happy with once you got back out on to the field and back into the rotation?

Landisch: I was happy with how I adapted to the system. The 4-3 is all about gaps and knowing your gaps. Toward the end of the year, I started being happy with the way I blitzed and how patient I was as far as pacing out the ball carrier and learning my keys and reads.

Is freedom to maneuver one of the best things a young defense can have? You still have your assignments and your responsibilities, but it maybe isn't as constraining as a 4-3 defense?

Landisch: Exactly. Everyone had one gap in the 4-3 and if someone missed that gap or was out of the gap, it would throw everything off. In the 3-4, everyone plays a primary and a secondary gap. That can compensate for someone if they get beat on a play. It makes things tough for the offense, too. Having some speed on the field help. One of our defensive goals is relentless pursuit to the football, and that's something that's going to really help us out.

Who are you all rotating with at the rover/outside linebacker spot?

Landisch: It's been me with the first-team defense and Joe Schobert with the second team.

Where did you have to build your game after the Capital One Bowl to be prepared to take all the reps with the starters in the spring?

Landisch: I took time to expand my knowledge of the entire defense. I wanted to see the whole puzzle from a distance. It not only helps you with where you need to be but helps where others need to fit. It also helps with my versatility having played mac/middle linebacker and now playing rover, you never know if someone is going to go down during the season and you need to step in. I also worked on improving my tackling and my pass protection.

When you were moving around out there, could you see a difference in your game with the work you had put in?

Landisch: I feel really good. I feel healthy. I felt like we put a high emphasis on tackling this spring, which was good. It gets us fired up when we get to do live tackling, especially against the quarterbacks. Any chance we get to go live (tackling) is great for the defense. We're doing more tackling than ever, so I feel pretty good about where we are headed.

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