Badger Bits: Gilbert and company must provide pressure

The Badgers need a defensive lineman to emerge this fall, much like how J.J. Watt came on to the scene in 2010, making huge plays in the backfield throughout the season.

The success of a football team's secondary often relies heavily on the defensive front's ability to create pressure on the opposing team's quarterback. In 2009 and 2010 Wisconsin had a playmaker on its defensive line step up to the challenge, providing that much needed pressure.

After leading UW with five sacks during his junior season, O'Brien Schofield did not disappoint in his senior season, recording an impressive 12 sacks in 2009. The following season former Badger defensive end and Houston Texan stud, J.J. Watt, provided 7 sacks and much needed pressure from the outside edge.

Last season the Badgers defensive line did not do much to lighten the burden off its secondary, unlike the previous two seasons. Senior defensive lineman Louis Nzegwu led the team with just four and a half sacks, and despite having an experienced secondary led by Aaron Henry and Antonio Fenelus, the Badgers had their fair share of breakdowns in coverage. The Hail Mary losses against Michigan State and Ohio State first come to mind, but the Badgers surrendered massive aerial attacks twice at the hands of the Spartans and in the Rose Bowl against Oregon, giving up a combined 847 passing yards and 9 touchdowns in those games.

Similar to the past few years, the Badgers will enter the season looking for a defensive end to wreak havoc in the backfield and disrupt the opposing quarterback. Many experts, including ESPN.com's Brian Bennett, suspect after returning from a season-ending foot injury a year ago, David Gilbert may fill that role for the Badgers. The 6-4, 250-pound end still managed to notch 10 tackles and three sacks, despite playing in just the first four games of last season.

Whether it comes from Gilbert or lesser-known players, Wisconsin desperately needs its defensive front to rise to the challenge and inflict pressure on the quarterback in order to disrupt opponents' passing attacks.

Wednesday's Links:

Offensive lineman Ricky Wagner enters 2012 with high expectations and Adam Rittenberg says he still has a lot to prove.

Badger guard Ben Brust had the opportunity to meet his favorite NASCAR driver, Kevin Harvick. Check out the entertaining video here.

Wisconsin/Michigan State headline week 9 in the Big Ten, so it is not tough to tell why Tom Dienhart is jacked up for the late October matchup in his week 9 preview.

You may have a tough time recognizing him now, but former Badger big man, Keaton Nankivil (rocking long hair now), talks about his life playing basketball in Germany. And he has even hit a game-winning shot since his time overseas (a must see).

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