Making A Stand

Getting a taste of game action at the start of last season, junior Blake Sorensen used that experience to motivate him during the off season, using hard work ethic and paying attention to the tiniest of details to force the coaching staff to use him this season. All indications entering the opener was that his plan worked.

MADISON - Even the best thought out plans have a few wrinkles in them. When it comes to the Wisconsin linebacker corps, junior Blake Sorensen and his solid play during fall camp is the crease that has forced the hands of the Wisconsin coaching staff.

Combined with redshirt freshman Michael Taylor's explosive persona that pushed him into a starting position, Sorensen has been moved inside to the middle linebacker position, better known as the quarterback of the defense, splitting time with junior Culmer St. Jean.

While it could be viewed as a demotion, UW defensive coordinator Dave Doeren was emphatic about wanting to get the best guys on the football field and create competition at positions that were lacking.

"Blake's a guy that's really competing hard," Doeren said. "He's got great leadership and knowledge of our defense and I wanted to put some competition in the middle."

That competitive fire for Sorensen stemmed from being called into duty at the beginning of last season. With incumbent starter Jonathan Casillas sidelined with an injury, Sorensen started the opening two games of the season, his first career starts, making a combined seven tackles.

While he appeared in 11 games, mostly on special teams, that taste he got last fall prepared him for the spring, having to mindset of starter to work hard everyday to earn the vacant spot.

"Starting last year was big," Sorensen said. "It is always good to get some game experience, and I think it was good to play with the guys that I am going to play with this year and get some confidence in each other. So far, that confidence has carried over."

It hasn't hurt that Sorensen has spent the summer locked in the film room and studying his playbook until his eyes couldn't handle anymore, another byproduct of having a talented group of freshmen pushing the veterans.

Whether it be Taylor or the play of true freshmen Chris Borland, Conor O'Neill, Nick Hill or A.J. Fenton, Sorensen knows how important having accountability. Anytime a player commits a penalty, a false start or misses an assignment during practice, the player is quick to get the hook, something that happened to Sorensen during work against the first-team defense.

"Everyone wants to start, so everyone has got to be accountable," Sorensen said. "Everyone knows that there job isn't set because people come out and work hard everyday."

Although senior Jae McFadden being the most experienced person on the unit ("he's a guy that has great instincts, is a playmaker and has the whole defense rally around him," Sorensen said), Wisconsin is counting on all 11 players to be key contributors on the defense.

"The big thing we talk about is 11 guys playing as one," Sorensen said. "If one guy doesn't do his job, that throws everybody else off. One spot affects all the other spots, which is huge. I am just working hard everyday to make sure it isn't my spot that's the problem."

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