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Wisconsin Badgers news, 8/15: Dave Aranda seeking more versatile defense; Scott Tolzien pushing for Packers backup QB job

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Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Football

Wisconsin Badgers defensive coordinator Dave Aranda wants more versatility from the defense this year. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Jeff Potrykus has a really interesting story on Aranda's thoughts from last year, and his hopes for this season.

[...] Aranda, who began his career in 1996 as a graduate assistant at California Lutheran, learned some painful lessons during his transition from Utah State to UW.

One was the difficulty in using the collective high football IQ of the members of the defense.

"Last year just the general defensive team (was) so intelligent and so bright," he said. "And it is my responsibility, my failure last year, where I led them along too much structure. Their intelligence was built into: 'This is my alignment, this is my responsibility and it's only this.'

"They really kind of gravitated to that. Some of that might have been because that's how they played in the past: 'We're going to play this one thing and we're going to play it out.'

UW is "desperate" to develop depth at nose guard, says Fox Sports Wisconsin's Jesse Temple. That's no exaggeration, either -- behind Warren Herring, the depth chart is entirely unproven. Andersen went as far as to say that Herring "will probably have to play every snap," as redshirt sophomore Arthur Goldberg plus freshmen Jeremy Patterson and Conor Sheehy have a cool zero games of experience between them.

Sophomores Alec James and Chikwe Obasih have apparently been compared to each other since sixth grade. Both hail from rival Wisconsin high schools (James from Brookfield East and Obasih from Brookfield Central) and are fighting for the first-team defensive end spot opposite Konrad Zagzebski. Obasih has been getting the majority of the first-team reps, but regardless, both are talented players that are expected to fill major roles in the Badgers' defense over the next few years.

Freshman D'Cota Dixon could see early playing time as a package player ($). Impressive versatility for a first-year player.

D.J. Gillins almost assuredly won't see playing time as a freshman quarterback, but he is feeling more comfortable in camp ($).

247Sports has a nice story on rewarding walk-ons with scholarships, from the coach's perspective (Rich Rodriguez in this case). I feel compelled to link to Jake's Walk-On Wisconsin longform from last December.

The Badgers are No. 15 in NFL.com's first college football power rankings of the season. "The skinny" for UW:

Like their Big Ten brethren Michigan State, the Badgers want to cram the ball down your throat with the run, then stifle you with their defense. The first part, with RB Melvin Gordon, is a given this season; the second, not so much.

I get that comparison to Michigan State, though I'm not crazy about it. That's our thing, dammit.

Looks like BTN Live will feature Wisconsin today:

Recruiting

Badger247 has an update on Osa Masina's plans for official visits. B5Q's Andrew Rosin projected Wisconsin's current big board, slating Masina as UW's likely No. 1 target.

Three-star Virginia cornerback T.J. Griffin recently came out with his top five and named Wisconsin his leader ($). Griffin is the country's No. 87 cornerback, according to 247Composite.

Wisconsin is one of three teams three-star Indianapolis safety Mykelti Wiliams knows he'll take official visits to ($).

Brice Marich of BadgerNation has a nice look at Wisconsin's in-state prospects and how Kimberly junior running back Blair Mulholland is hoping to hear more from the Badgers ($).

Badgers in the NFL

Scott Tolzien is pushing hard for the backup quarterback role in Green Bay. Who'd ya rather have, Packers fans: Tolzien or Matt Flynn?

Volleyball

Wisconsin's volleyball team was picked third in the preseason Big Ten coaches poll. Sophomore Lauren Carlini and senior Ellen Chapman were named to the preseason all-conference team.