Ready to Lead

Despite playing with a club on his hand and still leading the team in tackles last season, senior linebacker Jae McFadden knows that as a senior, he needs to set an example. Whether that's putting the pressure on himself to make more plays than a year ago or simply make it to class, McFadden is ready to carry the leadership burden to make last year a distant memory.

Badger Nation: Coach Bielema said Wisconsin is not looking in the past, but looking in the future. How important is that as you get ready for the 2009 season?

Jae McFadden: In order for us to take sufficient steps, we have to look in the past, but we have to learn from mistakes in our past. We had a lot of mistakes in the past and for me personally, I am trying to be a leader and do the right things. There were a lot of things I did last year that I am trying to get better at, including off the field like not missing class. I haven't missed a class yet and that carries over to the field. I am just trying to carrying over certain little things to the field that will help me on game day.

Badger Nation: Have you set any goals for yourself during these 15 practices?

JM: As far as football personal goals, I am just trying to be more productive. What I mean by that is try to get some sacks, an interception here and there, force some fumbles and increase my tackles for loss. People know that I lead the team in tackles in defense, but I need to do more than that and my team expects that. I did have the injury with the cast and the broken arm that set me back a little bit, but I feel is I can stay healthy, I can do good things. At the same time, I feel I could have made a lot more plays. I left a lot of plays out there.

Badger Nation: A lot of injuries last spring. How important is it for you guys to stay healthy as you start gearing up for the season?

JM: It's definitely important. Not having a guy like Jay Valai, who had surgery, hurts, but he'll be back, Aaron Henry is back and better. It's definitely an important thing to get that chemistry, that charisma with the team and just knowing what everyone is going to do; know what the safeties are going to do, what the corners are going to do and what the defensive linemen are going to do. You've got that chemistry and it's like being full-go on game day.

Badger Nation: Is it weird without Casillas or Levy around?

JM: It is weird. I saw the boys during pro days, but it's definitely weird. At the same time, Blake (Sorensen) is my boy and Culmer (St. Jean) is my boy. They are out there as my friends. It's definitely different, but at the same time you've got to move on and have a new experience.

Badger Nation: Is spring ball a time where you learn who the leaders are?

JM: You definitely do. Right after the season, right after the Florida State loss, I had a couple of coaches come up to me and tell me that I am going to be the man next year and that I am going to have to lead this team. You know when you have to be that man and I just want to do the right thing. I am going to class everyday. Last year, I ain't going to lie, I am not a big school boy, but at the same time, I am trying to do the right thing. If I go to class, I'll be on time for meetings and it'll carry over. Me being a leader, people are going to be looking at me and follow my lead. It's a big carryover affect.

Badger Nation: Coach Bielema talked about showing up on time was an important thing. Do you think there is more of a discipline factor being instituted this year?

JM: Most definitely man. You look at last year, there was a lot of stuff that we got away with that people would be showing up late or right at the certain time instead of showing up five minutes early. The first meeting we had after the bowl game, everybody was there five minutes early. That discipline factor didn't need to be hammered into our heads, but a lot of kids figured it out that we needed to do that to help our team out this year.

Badger Nation: A lot of people take bowl game results differently like a how a win could carry over the rest of the year and a loss sticks with you. How do you look at it?

JM: I just feel you have to learn from your mistakes. A lot of things in this world we live in, we learn from our mistakes. That was a bad bowl game. We just went into the locker room and everybody was down and stuff. We didn't want to lose like that. The best thing about is it get over it, try to learn from your mistakes and move on and get better from it.

Badger Nation: The way the season went, do people have a chip on their shoulder?

JM: A lot of people on this team don't want have that season that we had last season again. 7-6? I would never imagine us going 7-6 with the talent that we had last year. A lot of stuff didn't go our way but at the same time, I just never imagine that. I can't go through that again. This is my last year. I don't see us doing that again. With the attitude we got going now, the discipline and just the way things are going, things are going great. As far as discipline, this might be the best year for guys being humble and the attitude is definitely going good.


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