Since being named a starter during his redshirt freshman season, Chikwe Obasih has been one of the most consistent players on Wisconsin’s defensive line. Over the last two seasons Obasih has led the defensive line in tackles for loss and has played in every game. The goal amongst the defensive line remains the same: become better at pressuring the quarterback and make more positive plays in the backfield. With another year under his belt, Obasih will look to become the dominant player that he showed he could be at times last season.
Stats: 41 tackles (19 solo), five tackles for loss for 15 yards, one sack and two quarterback hurries in 2015.
Strengths: More often than not, Obasih’s motor constantly runs, a reason why his numbers were so much higher than his defensive linemates. He uses his thick frame and a variety of pass rushing moves to help him generate pressure. After having inconsistent footwork as a redshirt freshman, Obasih did a much better job with his steps this past year and it helped him make a better impact on defense. With defensive line coach Inoke Breckterfield back for his second year, the familiarity of his teachings could mean Obasih could really see a spike in his game.
Weaknesses: Although Obasih is one of the more consistent pass rushers on UW’s line, he can continue to get stronger and add strength to his game, something that will aid him in winning more one-on-one battles and generating more TFLs. Obasih is happy to do his job of absorbing blocks and allowing the linebackers to shoot the gaps in order to make a play. But at the same time Obasih is aware that if he improves as a pass rusher that he can help take some pressure off the units behind him.
Why he’s #9: Wisconsin’s linebackers are talented and have shown the ability to consistently create pressure in opposing team’s backfield. A big reason for that is the play of the defensive line, but the three starters have to start generating a steady rush to create opportunities for a young secondary. Obasih is the likely candidate to fill that role. Even if Obasih’s sacks and tackles for loss weren’t where he would like them, he has shown to be capable of helping collapse the opposing offensive line, as he had at least four tackles in six games last year. If Obasih can combine proper technique with increased athleticism and strength, it will help him get the results he’s looking for in generating pressure.
Overall: Obasih was able to take a step forward in his play during his sophomore year, earning an honorable mention all-conference selection by the media. Entering his third year as a starter, Obasih has the right skill set and worth ethic to succeed in the defense, a critical element in making sure teams can’t run consistently against Wisconsin’s front seven. Obasih’s ability to engage and shed blockers will be important when Wisconsin faces the physical teams on their schedule in 2016.