It's been quite the season for Wisconsin senior outside linebacker Joe Schobert. Through five games, the former walk-on leads the nation in tackles for loss (13) and sacks (nine) and is tied for the lead in forced fumbles (4).
Against Iowa on Saturday, UW's defense -- Schobert in particular -- carried the Badgers in a 10-6 loss to the Hawkeyes. Wisconsin held Iowa to 221 total yards and a 5-of-15 mark third down conversions. The Hawkeyes came in averaging about 440 yards and converting over 50 percent of their third-down opportunities.
In one of the most dominant individual performances seen in recent Wisconsin football history, Schobert, simply put, had a day. Running around the field and bringing havoc to the Iowa offense, the 6'2, 236-pound linebacker tallied eight tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, five quarterback hurries and two forced fumbles -- one that he recovered himself.
Schobert's brilliance on all fronts, rightfully so, elicited widespread recognition.
Saw Tom Burke dominate offenses. Saw JJ Watt dominate offenses. Never seen more dominating performance than one turned in by Joe Schobert— Mike Lucas (@LucasAtLarge) October 3, 2015
JJ Watt never had more than 3 QB hurries in a game at Wisconsin. Schobert had 5 today. #Badgers— Dave Heller (@dave_heller) October 3, 2015
Joe Schobert's 5 QB hurries would have led every #Badgers team from 2011-24, except 2013 when Chris Borland had 6.— Dave Heller (@dave_heller) October 3, 2015
Holy hell, Joe Schobert might be the best defensive player in the country, http://t.co/9KxzIxOwh6 (plus four forced fumbles)— The Solid Verbal (@SolidVerbal) October 4, 2015
Schobert's first sack came with 15 seconds left in the first half. The Badgers were in a nickel package but added a fresh wrinkle seen in the past couple of weeks. Rather than a 2-4-5 look, where two defensive linemen were in the package, redshirt sophomore outside linebacker T.J. Watt lined up as a defensive tackle. On the faux-defensive line are Watt, redshirt freshman Zander Neuville (the only defensive lineman in this look) and outside linebacker Vince Biegel. We've seen Biegel with his hand in the ground before and he is at the bottom of the line in the picture below. Essentially, it's a 1-5-5 look with two outside linebackers playing on the line.
Schobert is at the top of the screen without a in the ground, going up against sophomore right tackle Ike Botteger (75). Iowa has three receiving targets split out left and one to the right.
The next two pictures show the one-on-one matchup between Botteger and Schobert. Schobert bull rushes Botteger and knocks him over, then goes for Beathard after the sophomore tackle topples over.
From there, Botteger can only watch on the ground as Schobert grapples Beathard down on the ground for a first half-ending sack. Also note the rush Watt got as well, beating senior guard Jordan Walsh (65).
Schobert's second sack was a huge one, and ultimately could have changed the outcome for the game if not for a mishap at the Iowa 1-yard line by the Wisconsin offense.
Next: first-and-10 from Iowa's 27-yard line, Iowa lines up in 12 personnel. Wisconsin counters with its base 3-4 look. Schobert is lined up at the top of the screen, outside the tight end and taking on junior left tackle Cole Croston (64).
The tight end releases, but Schobert chips him to stunt his route, then attacks. Junior defensive end Arthur Goldberg (95) goes outside with Coston, and Schobert takes on senior running back Jordan Canzeri (33). Note how Biegel gets outside pressure on Botteger as well, with Golberg and Chikwe Obasih (34) also getting penetration.
As seen in the Hawaii game, a running back cannot contain No. 58. After Beathard decides to scramble, Schobert closes and strips the junior quarterback, even recovering the ball.
C. Beathard sacked by J. Schobert for -6 yds,C. Beathard fumbled, forced by J. Schobert, recovered by Wisc J. Schobert - ESPN Video
Schobert added one more sack on the last Iowa drive to finish his sterling performance, but possibly even bigger than two of his three sacks was the constant pressure he put on Beathard. He was credited with five quarterback hurries, with one translating to another turnover that led to Badgers points.
In the third quarter, Iowa was driving closer to Wisconsin territory before a critical 3rd-and-6 on the Hawkeyes' own 43-yard line. The Badgers crowd the line but only rush four on the play. Iowa shows an 11-personnel-like formation, with three receivers again to the left side of the field. Wisconsin counters with a true 2-4-5 "peso" package, with Obasih and sophomore nose guard Connor Sheehy (94) in on the play.
Schobert stunts to the inside of Obasih and a blitzing Chris Orr (50), as the confusion leaves two Iowa lineman not blocking anyone. Schobert runs through a lane a semi could drive through and hits Beathard dead on. The result: a Michael Caputo interception that stalled the Hawkeyes' opportunity.
Just when @BadgerFootball needed some momentum, Michael Caputo comes up with the interception. http://t.co/mEoWNYHyI3— Wisconsin on BTN (@WisconsinOnBTN) October 3, 2015
Schobert and the defense will need to carry the Badgers this season, especially if injuries to offensive weapons Alex Erickson and Austin Traylor stunt any offensive progression as they head to Nebraska this week. It was a once-in-a-lifetime performance for Schobert, but he may need a few more Saturdays like this to keep Wisconsin afloat in the Big Ten West.