Oregon State Gives Badger Defense Deja Vu

MADISON, Wis. -- After a brief respite, the Wisconsin Badgers defense is back to preparing for a smash-mouth offense. But this time, they're preparing for Oregon State instead of their own offensive counterparts. The Beavers' offense is practically a carbon copy of the Badgers', in large part because Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst's was Mike Riley's offensive coordinator from 2003-2004.

Several defensive players stressed the similarities between the two offenses after practice Wednesday. Sophomore linebacker Chris Borland and redshirt senior Aaron Henry both said they have noticed the similarities between the two teams.

"They run power, stretch, inside zone, align in some of the same formations and have the same traits," Borland said, "[They're] a similar smash-mouth team." 

"Just looking on film its identical to some of the things we do this year," Henry said. "It's just a chance for us to really take advantage of it."

Henry also mentioned playing against a familiar offensive scheme might pay dividends for the Badgers. 

"Going against a similar offense on game day is only going to help us in the long run," Henry said. 

Defense making improvements

Just like the offensive players on Tuesday, the defensive players knew they still had room to improve after beating UNLV. Borland played in his first game since a shoulder injury prematurely ended his 2010 campaign, and said it was a lot of fun to get back onto the field.

"I think [my game] was solid. I wasn't spectacular by any means, but I need to continue to improve- I can always get better," Borland said.

Defensive tackle Ethan Hemer was the week's defensive MVP, but the redshirt sophomore was quick to downplay the award. 

"It was definitely an honor to receive that award," Hemer said, "But with the defense we have its no one man show, and I think last week [showed] that. I wouldn't have had the production that I had without the help of my teammates."

Every game matters

Despite Oregon State's loss to an FCS team, the defense is not overlooking the Beavers. Henry mentioned that the Beavers' record doesn't mean much- they can still be a dangerous team.

"Looking at their schedule last year, they lost to some teams that people wouldn't consider really good, but they beat some teams like USC, so some weeks they didn't play well and some weeks they did," Henry said. "Even a really good team can have one bad weekend, so for us the most important thing is to focus on what we do and make sure we control the game."

Hemer mentioned that the team's mindset doesn't change, no matter what their opponent did the week before.

"It doesn't matter who you play," Hemer said. "We as a team have a philosophy that we want to make every game a big game. So we approach that daily- every game we play we don't lose focus, no matter who our opponent is."

Emphasizing turnovers

Forcing turnovers was a theme after practice Wednesday. The Badgers didn't have any takeaways against UNLV, so the players know they have room to improve. 

"We need to do a better job- give credit to UNLV, they protected the ball," Borland said, "But we need to punch and rip and get some fumbles."

Henry seemed confident that the turnovers would come, if he and his teammates keep pressuring the opposing offense.

"Turnovers are huge. A lot of people don't understand about last year- last year even in the first six or seven games people were telling us that we need to have more turnovers, and it was just a matter of guys were trying to get turnovers but the ball wasn't bouncing your way," Henry said. "I think in the second half of the season they just started to come out of the blue, and so I for us it's just keep ripping at the ball every chance that we get and when the opportunity does present itself just take advantage of it."

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