MADISON -- The Wisconsin Badgers' defense returned to its normal form Saturday afternoon at Camp Randall Stadium. A week after giving up 502 yards to a talented Alabama offense, defensive coordinator Dave Aranda's crew allowed only 157 and shut out the Miami (Ohio) offense Saturday afternoon in a 58-0 victory.
Along with stifling the RedHawks' offense with three sacks and nine tackles for loss, the Badgers also forced four turnovers on the afternoon -- something they didn't accomplish against the Crimson Tide in Texas. One turnover was a fumble recovery by long snapper Connor Udelhoven on a punt in the first quarter. The other three were interceptions from the Badgers' secondary in safeties Tanner McEvoy and Leo Musso.
The first interception was by Musso late in the first quarter in a tip-drill situation with redshirt senior safety Michael Caputo deflecting a Drew Kummer pass right into Musso's hands.
Late in the third quarter, Musso struck again, this time picking off a Billy Bahl pass deep in Wisconsin territory to thwart one of the few opportunities the Redhawks had to score points. The Badgers had found a chance to enhance and build on their defensive identity.
"Obviously, guys are always going to say that there's stuff you can improve on," Musso said, "but we just want to keep building our identity. We want to that identity to be a fast, physical defense that makes a lot of plays and makes a lot of turnovers."
McEvoy, who played both sides of the ball with three receptions as a wide receiver, perfectly read and intercepted a Bahl pass at the Miami 45-yard line in the second quarter and returned it 41 yards to the Miami 4. The Badgers capitalized on the red-zone situation three plays later with a 1-yard touchdown run by redshirt freshman running back Taiwan Deal.
The afternoon was a nice rebound for the defense and its secondary play.
"We had a few big picks," McEvoy said. "Leo Musso had two big ones. I had a nice one, lucky one really. He kind of just threw it at me, which was nice. I'll take those."
Defense thrives with Caputo back
After Caputo was knocked out of the game last week on the third play of the game with a head injury, the Badgers' defense had a rough time against the Alabama offense. The team captain returned to the field on Saturday and tallied five tackles, which didn't go unnoticed by his teammates.
"It's obviously good to have the leader back," senior outside linebacker Joe Schobert said after the game Saturday. "Mike's a good guy, a tough player, and having him feeling good out there playing football and staying healthy throughout the whole game, it was big. His communication, his leadership -- it's something we need for the defense."
Secondary coach Daronte Jones noted during fall camp that Caputo not only helped the secondary maintain its positions on the field, but also other position groups as well.
"I've been with him for two years now," McEvoy said. "He's a smart guy. He knows where everyone is going to lineup, so if I ever have a question, he's always there to answer."