The former Wisconsin safety saw his team upend UNLV, 41-21, by a dominant defensive performance, allowing only 217 yards and 10 points while scoring a big defensive touchdown to swing the momentum of the game.
After every game, Badger Nation brings in Maragos, who was recently signed to the San Francisco 49ers' practice squad, to share his impressions and his insight from the game for subscribers.
After such a long layoff, how hard is it to be crisp right out of the gate? That having said, how impressed were you by the energy level Wisconsin showed early on?
Maragos: My first impressions were that seeing the guys come out, when you have a layoff for that much time, to see the guys come out with that much energy in the opener with that much fire and energy tells me something about the group. It was good to see reacted to the flow of the game. I thought the defense came out great, looked very good, and the offense looked in stride. You could see the difference between the offense and the defense. Defenses are usually able to come out a little better in the first game just because of the timing dynamic. Maybe that's why the offense had to go through a little more adversity, but I thought it was a great deal overall.
You mention adversity. How important is it for a team to get a good dose of that right away in an opener and how can that impact a team down the line?
Maragos: I think that's really important to overcome adversity early on and get healthy doses of that against opponents that might not be as good as some teams in the Big Ten. I think that's huge because you can learn from that. It's a little scary when you are steamrolling everybody before you get to the Big Ten because you haven't faced that. When it does show up or you haven't gotten a dose of it, it could really be a problem when you are facing a team that can put the pedal to the metal against you and you can't recover. I think they are going to learn from the mistakes when they watch it on film.
Talk a little about the defense. It's hard to pick out any real negatives from the first game, especially for a unit that barely allowed over 200 yards in the game and were put in some tough spots on the field.
Maragos: Very impressed with the defense. With allowing less than 20 total yards, I thought that was very impressive the way they limited what UNLV was trying to do. It was a credit to Aaron Henry to pick up the ball and get that defensive score. I know that's big. I think anytime the defense scores, you probably have over a least an 80 percent chance to win the game. That's obviously a big play in the game.
When a player makes a big play, like Henry's touchdown or John Clay with a big run, how does that energize the rest of the team?
Maragos: Any time offense, defense or special teams makes a big play that changes the momentum of the game, I think that really bolsters the units to keep that momentum going. Other people are taking the advantage of their opportunities, which puts the challenge on the other end. With the offense doing so well running the ball, the defense wants to make a play to get the ball back in their hands. We want to take care of our business to watch them take care of their business.
When Clay is running the ball well and the offense is running the ball well, I think it really impacts the defense. I can remember that when the offense was running the ball and rolling, I was sitting there and being anxious, wanting them to score or something to get us back on the field. We want to go make some plays and go ball. At the same time, when your defense is off the field, the other team isn't scoring points, which is a great situation and gives everyone more confidence.
As fun as the season opener is, how much more exciting is the home opener for a player?
Maragos: This to me is really fun because Camp Randall is such an unique place to play and it's so exciting for the guys to come in and get a chance to play in front of that crowd. I know they'll be excited and the crowd will be amped up to see firsthand what some couldn't see out in Las Vegas.
What's your San Jose State Prediction?
Maragos: Seeing all the opportunities the offense had to score and seeing how they could really roll, San Jose State, I know they have a pretty good safety, but I think the Badgers are really going to roll this one. I am thinking 62-6. I was pretty close on the last one and might have nailed it if that pick-six wouldn't have happened. I was right there, so we'll see about this one.