Far From Weak

When Jonathan Casillas stepped out, Blake Sorensen knew that it was his chance to step in and fill the void at weakside linebacker. In two starts in place of the senior leader, Sorensen has done what his coaches needed him to do.

MADISON - Blake Sorensen was seen as a huge asset when Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema and company recruited the reigning "Mr. Football" in the state of Minnesota. Sorensen came as advertised for the Badgers, contributing his speed and work ethic on special teams in 12 games, registering 14 tackles.

But when the heart and soul of the defense went down before the season started, Sorensen's skills were being thrown right into the fire.

Without Jonathan Casillas, Sorensen started at weakside linebacker in Wisconsin's first two games of the season and, for the most part, filled in admirably, registering five solo and seven total tackles.

With Casillas due back for this weekend's game at Fresno State, Sorensen talked with Badger Nation about how the first two games of the season went and what he learned about himself as a linebacker.

When you heard that Jon was going to be out and that you were going to be the guy, how do you approach that assignment that he was going to unable to play for two weeks?

Well, Jon is one of the leaders on this team and everyone looks up to him. But when he went down, I knew that I had to step up and try and fill his shoes. I looked at it as an opportunity to step up, make plays and take advantage of my chance to compete.

How do you feel you responded to the opportunity in the past two weeks? I am sure there were some bumps along the road but otherwise pretty solid from your perspective?

Yeah, there were definitely some bumps that went along with starting your first game. One thing that I definitely improved from game one to game two was getting better. I think I will continue to do better the more reps I get. I just learned a lot from that first game and tried to carry it forward into the next game.

Starting with spring workouts and through fall camp, what was the biggest thing you learned about the defense and really improved upon?

I think just the overall understanding of the defense, which is big. Where I fit, where I need to be on every play and what I all need to do and all of that came with reps. I got a lot of reps during the spring. That was the main thing for me – where I need to be on every play.

You played plenty on special teams last year but starting at linebacker and facing the bullets for the first time, what was the one thing that really opened your eyes out there?

Nothing really because we go against our offense a lot so I am use to the speed of our offense. Just getting use to the game speed every play was different. It's a lot different sitting and waiting for the play to start than running down field and trying to tackle someone.

(Playing in front of a full crowd) was something but I just tried to block it out and not worry about it. I tried to take it like any other day and stay calm. Being comfortable out there is big.

What does having a guy like DeAndre Levy out there mean to you? He's the senior leader out there because of his experience. What did having him out there mean to you?

He's a big leader that leads by example. He doesn't say a whole lot but when he does, you listen to him because he knows what he is talking about. He's a guy that helps everyone out, gets everyone pumped up and everyone looks up to him.

What kind of impact did Casillas have on you from the sidelines? Did he talk to you a lot between series and during the week on what to look out for on the field?

Definitely. He mentored me everyday and watched me every play out there on game day and told me what I needed to do better. He was big. He helped me out a lot and it was real fortunate to have him right there.

The first road trip for this team this weekend in a tough environment. In addition to winning, what is this team trying to accomplish this weekend and what is this defense trying to accomplish this weekend?

We just want to go out and execute. We know Fresno is a great team and that they have done a lot of good things. But we have to do our jobs, go out and execute and take it one play at a time. If we do that, things will take care of itself.

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