clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Wisconsin depth chart 2014: Trio of freshmen break into defense's two-deep

Two redshirt freshman defensive linemen and one true freshman safety will tango with some game-ready upperclassmen in hope of wrecking havoc on the LSU offense.

Defensive end Chikwe Obasih (left) in Wisconsin's spring game in April.
Defensive end Chikwe Obasih (left) in Wisconsin's spring game in April.
Grey Satterfield

On Monday, Wisconsin unveiled its Week 1 depth chart for Saturday's game vs. LSU. Though everyone concentrated on the mighty "OR" uniting the two quarterbacks, the Badgers' defense had one big callout itself with true freshman Lubern Figaro slated to be the starting strong safety opposite junior Michael Caputo. Two redshirt freshmen from Brookfield, Wisconsin, -- Chikwe Obasih and Alec James -- also have a shot to make an early impact.

Wisconsin Depth Chart — Week 1 vs. LSU
DEFENSE
DE 34 Chikwe Obasih (Fr.) 6 Alec James (Fr.)
NG 45 Warren Herring (Sr.) 95 Arthur Goldberg (So.)
DE 91 Konrad Zagzebski (Sr.) 93 Jake Keefer (Jr.)
OLB 58 Joe Schobert (Jr.) 48 Jack Cichy (So.)
ILB 59 Marcus Trotter (Sr.) 32 Leon Jacobs (So.)
ILB 30 Derek Landisch (Sr.) 43 Michael Trotter (Sr.)
OLB 47 Vince Biegel (So.) 41 Jesse Hayes (Jr.)
CB 8 Sojourn Shelton (So.) 4 Devin Gaulden (Jr.)
SS 31 Lubern Figaro (Fr.) 19 Leo Musso (So.)
FS 7 Michael Caputo (Jr.) 21 Peniel Jean (Sr.)
CB 5 Darius Hillary (Jr.) 18 Dare Ogunbowale (So.)

Defensive linemen

We knew the first-team defensive line was pretty much set since spring camp, with Obasih breaking through during that time to set the pace for the rest of the young linemen. Backing him up is James. I believe these two have a bright future, and it will be interesting to see if they can shine early on against a solid LSU offensive line that returns four starters and its athletic running backs in Terrence Magee and Leonard Fournette.

The line has Warren Herring and Konrad Zagzebski, the two elder statesmen of the group, who have been praised by the coaching staff for guiding this youthful position group through the camps. Both played extensively in the two-deep as reserves last season, with Herring sacking opposing quarterbacks four times and forcing six tackles for loss. As Andersen alluded to last week, Herring and Zagzebski will switch places in certain packages this season, with Herring moving out to defensive end and Zagzebski at nose guard in certain schemes. Herring noted last week that he asks for Zagzebski's feedback and vice-versa, and has helped him grow through camp.

"Those seniors are doing a great job for us, up front-wise, defensive line-wise," defensive line coach Chad Kauha'aha'a a couple of Saturdays ago.

Arthur Goldberg has had a solid camp since being called out by Gary Andersen in the first week of camp, and Jack Keefer rounds out the two-deep at end.

Linebackers

Three of the four starters in the linebacking corp have been injured or held out of part of fall camp. Inside linebackers Derek Landisch and Marcus Trotter have been sidelined by some hamstring troubles (the former more worriesome than the latter's simple "twinge" or tightening), while Vince Biegel dealt with a head injury (as did reserve inside backer Michael Trotter).

This position group played a good amount of snaps last season in key positions and can be potent. Joe Schobert and Biegel were used in many subpackages last season involving nickel and dime looks, and Trotter filled in solidly for an injured Chris Borland at Illinois and Iowa (lead the team in tackles both games).

The back-ups will be depended upon to rest the starters at certain points this season, and outside of Trotter, many are unproven in game time situations. I haven't seen much of Jesse Hayes in the fall (I believe Andersen noted Hayes was injured at one point in camp) but Jack Cichy make some plays in the media-open sessions of practices. His presence in the two-deep allows Andersen and defensive coordinator Dave Aranda to redshirt freshman T.J. Edwards, who himself made a couple nice plays in the first scrimmage. The always-athletic Leon Jacobs has moved from outside to inside and back to outside, then back inside. His versatility and knowing all assignments make him a valuable asset.

Secondary

Three of four starters are on tap to return again and contribute heavily. How Sojourn Shelton and Darius Hillary match up with LSU sophomore wide receiver Travin Dural and a group of young wide receivers will a match-up key for the Badgers, and if the defense can capitalize on the Tigers' younger quarterbacks in sophomore Anthony Jennings and/or true freshman Brandon Harris. Devin Gaulden will be the nickel cornerback, and walk-on Dare Ogunbowale beat out a competitive group including another true freshman in Derrick Tindal.

Caputo has become a leader for the defense and in the secondary, and Figaro has played his way into the No. 1 defense starting after his strong performance in Wisconsin's first scrimmage, which included a pick-six off of fellow true freshman D.J. Gillins. His play will be critical against a talented group of receivers. With Andersen and Aranda stating they want multiple personnel packages and schemes, expect Jean and Musso to get some playing time as well. Safeties coach Bill Busch said a couple weeks back that he liked Jean's coverage skills against tight ends, and don't forgot another true freshman, Austin Hudson, as a possible contributor in this group as well as on special teams.