BadgerNation: In spring you expect the defense to have the upper hand a little bit, which is something the unit has shown in the past week. Do you like the way your group has been progressing?
Michael Caputo: Yes because we’re coming to work every day here. Nothing has changed from previous years, even with new guys coming in or old guys coming back. We come to work every day, learn a lot of new techniques and a lot of new stuff that is going to help us with the defense. Not a lot has changed, but we are putting in a lot of changes. Whether it’s minor or whole new things, we’re coming along pretty well and getting acclimated.
BN: What are some of the changes you can tell us about that are going to be different this year?
MC: I think we’re going to have a different mentality this year. Last year our mentality was tough. I think this year we’re striving to get better in terms of being mentally tough, mentally strong and mentally sound in terms of the scheme. We want to be tough individuals and that creates a tougher team. Any adjective you want to throw in there with being tough, that’s what we want to be and that’s what we’re striving with each day to push each other.
BN: Does that start in the weight room with Strength Coach Ross Kolodziej and the things you did in the winter, which sounds like it was different than in past years?
MC: Yeah, it started back in January when Coach Chryst really took the reins and Coach Kolodziej came in. We just started grinding them, we’ve been grinding ever since and it’s paid off a lot. Some new guys completely picked it up and hit the ground running. It’s fun to see.
BN: (Defensive Coordinator) Dave Aranda put a lot of blame on himself for not putting the defense in position to create more turnovers. Other than toughness, what else has your unit worked on to try and create more turnovers for the offense?
MC: It’s about making sure we’re taking advantage of opportunities to get a turnover. If the ball is loose or being carried loose, we need to strip it out. If the ball is up in the air for the DBs, or even the linebackers, we need to catch it. We can’t drop any interceptions. We just need a be-around-the-ball type of mentality. It’s get to the ball, make the tackle and (make a play).
BN: There are a lot of familiar faces in the secondary. Add Tanner McEvoy into the mix at safety, it appears your unit will be the strength of the defense. That’s probably a badge of honor that you’re carrying?
MC: In terms of guys who have played the most games, we’re definitely striving to be the leaders back there and lead the young guys. That doesn’t mean the young guys aren’t stepping up. They’re definitely taking the reins of their positions and their position groups. They’re putting in their work, which is another thing that’s good to see because freshman are stepping up. It’s cool. My thing is just to be the leader and guide those guys along because they are heading in the right direction.
BN: How much does McEvoy being a safety help with your versatility and flexibility within the defense?
MC: Tanner knows the game inside and out. I trust that he knows what’s going on and trust that he’s going to be there. Same with Lubern Figaro and a lot of other safeties that are stepping up. But with Tanner, he knows the game. He has a real good football sense, so it’s an automatic trust that he’ll be there. It makes him accountable. He makes it fun for me, and I’m sure he makes it fun for the rest of the guys on the team.
BN: How are you a different player than you were in January? What have you done in the offseason?
MC: Just working on technique. I’ve been working on playing wide receivers better and playing man-to-man better. Working on small technique things that will make me a better football player in terms of hands and feet.
BN: What’s the big excitement you have for the rest of spring to put you in position for success in the summer and the fall?
MC: I’m excited to come out here and execute on all these opportunities. Once we take these pads off for spring, we’re not going to touch them for another couple months. To execute now and get the feel down for playing football again, that will help us all summer as we get ready for camp.