Wanting to Make A Stance

Having passed their four previous tests thus far, sophomore cornerback Aaron Henry knows that senior Eric Decker will be a challenge. Although he has struggled at points during the start of the season, Henry feels that Saturday might be the Badgers finest hour thus far.

MINNEAPOLIS – Although he was responsible for containment on the other side of the field, Aaron Henry remembers sneaking a glimpse at Jack Ikegwuonu every chance he could.

Ikegwuonu, a junior back in 2007, was Wisconsin's shutdown cornerback and his assignment in the regular season finale was to contain an up-and-coming Minnesota wide receiver by the name of Eric Decker, who has been impressing onlookers with his toughness and play-making abilities, a match-up Ikegwuonu took personally.

"Jack was a freak," Henry recalled. "He was a different kind of guy. He had pretty good technique, but he speed and he was a competitor. He knew coming into that game that it was him and Decker. Either he was going to win or Decker was going to win, but we all knew that Jack wasn't going to let anyone win."

Ikegwuonu didn't let Decker win in the first half, limiting the sophomore to one catch for 22 yards and a touchdown. That all changed early in the fourth quarter after television cameras caught Decker giving Ikegwuonu a little punch to the groin.

Although Wisconsin won 41-34, Decker had a big second half, registering five catches for 103 yards and a score. With Decker being held out of UW's 35-32 win last year with an ankle injury, the secondary has had to wait two years to get some payback on Minnesota's top wide receiver.

"Once Jack took that shot, he got into Eric Decker's game plan as opposed to playing his own," Henry said. "I mean, it's kind of hard to not to get upset when someone hits you in your business. If we don't get into their game plan, everything will be OK."

The game plan, according to Henry, is to have junior cornerback Niles Brinkley and sophomore Devin Smith rotate on Decker most of the game while Henry will spend time shadowing Brandon Green (10 catches, 130 yards) and Nick Tow-Arnett (10 catches, 128 yards).

"Our main thing is that we are definitely going to contain Decker on the outside, but we don't want any other receiver to go off," Henry said. "We are going to try to stop their whole passing game, no matter who it is to. Our department wants to go out there and play Wisconsin football and execute."

In order for Wisconsin's secondary to achieve its goal, the Badgers' front seven will need to pressure quarterback Adam Weber. With a passer efficiency of 120.4, Weber has thrown for 879 yards and five touchdowns, but can make bad decision when he's flushed out of the pocket or pressured.

Having five interceptions through four games, the Badgers defense, a group that has a 1.25 turnover margin that leads the Big Ten, will be looking to make Minnesota a one-dimensional threat.

"He's very elusive," Henry said of Weber. "He's a tough guy to tackle, he can scramble and he's huge to their passing game. When you have a guy like that who can move in the pocket and create situations down the field that you can't rep in practice, it's definitely going to be a challenge."

Through four games, the biggest challenge for Henry is to get back to his old roots. Making his comeback after missing a year with an ACL injury, Henry has been plagued with rust, flu and the perception from what others expected of him since his first start. Last week against Michigan State, Henry showed that he was starting to make strides, registering three tackles and a pass breakup in the win over the Spartans.

"I am trying to play for everybody else instead of myself," Henry said. "It's taken awhile, but I need to get back in that groove and find my mojo and swagger. Everybody is going to expect things out of you in life in general. If you handle your business and do things to the best of your ability, you are going to be fine. Do I think I have played to the best of my ability? Heck no. There's always room for improvement on my behalf."

The last two weeks for Henry have been about taking small steps, focusing on the little things and playing mistake-free football. With the prospect of shutting down the best wide receiver in front of them Saturday, Henry and his teammates want to make a step, and a loud statement on the road.

"We're going to go out there, keep our mouths close and play Wisconsin football," he said. "It's always a thrill to see the expression on people's faces when you accomplish what you are capable of. A lot of people don't give our secondary much credit and they probably still don't. Nobody is going to give us credit until we prove it.

"If we play mistake-free football, we'll definitely be coming back home with the axe."


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