Under the Radar

With Aaron Henry out of action the last two weeks, Mario Goins was called upon to step in and fill the void. So far, the redshirt freshman is not making headlines and that's perfectly fine for him.

MADISON - Unlike a great running back or talented quarterback, Mario Goins would prefer that his name not be announced over the PA or discussed in Internet chat rooms. All Goins wants to do is play his position to the best of his ability, read his keys and not give up the big play. Despite some nerves and the occasional miss, the redshirt freshman is doing what he needs to do.

"I just want to please the coaches and go out there and do what they've been telling me to do," Goins said. "The number one goal is to stay focus. All in all when it comes down to it, if I stay focus, I don't have to worry about anything else but I can't lose my head out there."

Although he can't lose his head out on the field, he nearly lost it a couple weeks before the first game. Slated to be the No.3 cornerback, Goins learned that Aaron Henry suffered a setback in his knee recovery and that he would not be ready for the home opener. Although he admitted to be somewhat nervous, Goins was preparing himself to play all along, adhering to Coach Bielema's ‘Next Man In' philosophy.

"Coach B and Coach Doeren emphasize the next man in and I tried to make sure that when I was on the sideline, I'd be watching everybody play," Goins said. "I was getting mental reps and not slacking off. I wasn't out there play but I knew that my chance would come out there someday. So when I go out there, I am not going out there acting crazy and getting beat deep."

Since seeing his reps increase during spring workouts, Goins has analyzes everything about his game and how he could improve. Coming in around only 170 pounds, Goins knew he needed to get stronger and faster to compete in the Big Ten. Starting this season at 185 pounds, Goins is in the best shape of his young career.

"Strength helps out a lot in the Big Ten and I got stronger and faster because of the strength coaches and my technique," Goins said. "I worked hard all summer and all off season to get better. I worked with all the older guys to get the technique down so when we got into the season started, I wouldn't have to work on things that should already be handled and I can move on faster."

Goins also spent time during his redshirt season to study Wisconsin's most talented cornerback - Jack Ikegwuonu – and its most technically sound cornerback – Allen Langford.

"From Jack (Ikegwuonu), his athletic ability was just amazing and the way he recovered, he made it look so easy," Goins said. "I wanted to be like Jack and cover any receiver that comes at me. When I look at Langford, he's the technician when it comes to technique on the receivers. He's not as fast as Jack (but) his technique; you wouldn't be able to tell the difference on who is who because he never messes up."

With those ideas in mind, Goins has taken to the field and has held up his end of the deal. In two games, Goins hasn't been beaten for a touchdown, has played relatively sound in high-pressure situations and his nine tackles in tied for second best on the team.

"I may not be a vocal person and talk loud out on the field but I talk with my actions and I can make the good play,' Goins said. "People trust me so I can go to work as hard as I can and make plays. I think I can cover anybody that they put on me when I get to the level of working hard with my technique."

After watching the defense struggle at points last season, Goins, along with the rest of his secondary teammates, took it upon themselves to reverse last year's trend. Working tirelessly during spring and fall camp to improve against the spread offense, the members of Wisconsin's secondary feel prepared against anything an opposing team throws at them.

More importantly, all the talk of the cornerbacks being the weak point of the team as given Goins and his teammates valuable ‘bulletin board' material.

"People that usually say that are people that aren't around or don't know too much about our football situation," he said. "We work hard out here and coaches push us to be our best and they aren't going to put us out there if we aren't ready. Obviously, we are doing something right, handling things off the field and in practice to be out there on the starting jobs. That's just a bunch of hoopla and words but people are going to see this season."


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