Last season Michael Caputo was the unquestioned leader of Wisconsin’s defense, evident by him being the only player named a captain every single week. While the Badgers have a handful of seniors who can be looked at for guidance, few can match the emotion and intensity that Vince Biegel provides. Choosing Biegel elected to return for his senior year to allow himself the opportunity to be an undisputed leader for Wisconsin’s entire team. With the graduation of Joe Schobert, Biegel is switching to Schobert’s old position and still expected to find ways of disrupting opposing team’s backfield, making sure the defense can reach a high ceiling.
Stats: 66 tackles (31 solo), 14 tackles for loss for 81 yards, eight sacks, and nine quarterback hurries in 2015
Strengths: The athleticism Biegel possesses gives him the ability to wreak havoc in opposing team’s backfields, as he finished second to Schobert in tackles for loss, sacks and quarterback hurries last season. That production was good enough to earn a third team All-Big Ten selection by both the coaches and media. Although Biegel appreciated the recognition, he said he should have been higher on that list and wants to show it in his final season. For a player who shouldn’t have many chips on his shoulder, it could mean bad things for opposing backfields.
Weaknesses: Biegel doesn’t have many glaring weaknesses to his game. After all he was named the nation’s top returning outside linebackers in the 3-4 by Pro Football Focus. According to Biegel, the N.F.L. draft advisory committee gave him a draft projection somewhere between the third and fifth round. The main area where Biegel needs to improve is his pass coverage skills. Despite all of Biegel’s strengths in his career, he only has four pass deflections and zero interceptions. With Biegel taking over Schobert’s old role (a spot where Schobert had two PBUs and an interception), the senior leader will have to increase those numbers.
Why he’s #2: Although Wisconsin would have the depth to fill if Biegel missed time, the Badgers have few players who can match the emotion Biegel brings to the field. He is a master of Wisconsin’s defense and a coach on the field. His ability to consistently pressure backfields helps open up other opportunities for his teammates to create consistent pressure. Much like what happened to Schobert midway through last season, Biegel can expect teams to game plan against him to neutralize his talents. Biegel still finds ways of producing, like when he had six games last season of registering at least five tackles. There were only three games where he didn’t either register a tackle for loss or a sack.
Overall: Biegel will have a chance to close out his final year on a high note for Wisconsin. Not only could Biegel help lead the defense to have a successful season but, if he produces like he has in the past, he could move his name up Wisconsin’s record book. Biegel currently has 33.5 career tackles for loss and has a chance to move into the top five if he registers at least 16 tackles for loss. Biegel registered 16.5 as a redshirt sophomore. Not to mention Biegel currently ranks eighth on Wisconsin’s list for sacks in a career (17.5) and is seven sacks away from being in the top five. Biegel hasn’t registered fewer than 7.5 sacks over the last two seasons. If Biegel can continue to alter games with his pass rushing skills, he will certainly play a role of helping keep Wisconsin competitive in plenty of games.