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Wisconsin football: the outside linebackers talk to the media

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Bobby April gives a rundown of what he has seen from his group so far and we learn a little bit more about some of the young guys who are stepping up.

Kelli Steffes; UW Athletics Communications

The outside linebackers group spoke to the media at the end of the week and OLB coach Bobby April gave us a pretty good rundown of where he sees his unit heading into the first spring practice that the media can watch on Saturday morning.

Bobby April

  • On Nick Herbig: “Nick brings an energy about him and a love for the game that you don’t see from many guys.”
  • On Noah Burks: “A super senior, he still has stuff to work on. He really needs to focus in on his improvement, how he can become better. Don’t just be an outside linebacker, be an impact outside linebacker. I think he’s making those steps.”

“A big part of what we focus on is Noah’s pass rush. That’s an area that didn’t show up as much for us last season and it needs to be a factor this season.”

  • On players that are helping to build depth: “There are three guys right now that I was hoping would show up to practice and be loud on tape: CJ Goetz, Spencer Lytle and Aaron Witt. All three of those guys will be noticed out there. They’re bringing energy, high effort and a physicality that we didn’t have from them last season. They’re definitely pushing the group and forming some depth out there.”
  • “Aaron is built different. His mindset towards the game is a different factor.” Mentions that if you were to get in a street fight you’d want Witt with you.

Mentions that Witt needs to work on keeping his pad level down because of his height. Everything for him, on the field, is a touch slower because he’s so tall and long.

  • Notes that Kaden Johnson is out with a hamstring injury and they’re hoping to get him back next week and that Izayah Green-May has been out with an injury too.
  • On early enrollee TJ Bollers: “The maturity level is there. The want is there. Energy is there to get better. He’s just got to talk a couple of bumps here...but there is a talent.”
  • On Spencer Lytle: Notes that injuries have really hindered his development until this offseason and now he is maxing out in the weight room and should “pop” on the field this year.

Noah Burks

  • Hasn’t been practicing yet, going through COVID-19 protocols
  • “One aspect I really missed was the true game day experience at Camp Randall...it’s something I’m looking forward to having this year.”

Also mentions that he wants to continue to develop as a player as another reason why he came back for one more year.

  • On other guys in the outside linebacker room: “The guy who has made the biggest step so far is Spencer Lytle. I think he’s made some really big strides so far. CJ Goetz is another player who has done a really good job on taking his game to another level.”
  • “One thing I really love to see is the physicality that everyone is bringing.”
  • He says that he is trying to improve on block releases and his pass rush.

“Most important part of a good pass rush is your get off.” Notes that some guys are putting their hands in the dirt on certain plays. Mentions the group needs to work on having “violent hands.”

Aaron Witt

  • “Football is a game all about leverage. No one cares how long your arms are if you can’t hold your ground.”
  • Witt, who I had never heard speak before, is an intense and thoughtful player. He has great respect for Burks (they play the same position) who is mentoring him and he considers Herbig his best friend in their recruiting class. I think that Witt is going to be a difference maker for the Badgers sooner rather than later, he just seems to “get it.”

Nick Herbig

  • “A big step for me would be becoming more of a spark plug for the team. I really wanna elevate my pass rush game. At Wisconsin your expected to have double digit sacks each year.”
  • “I was definitely not happy at all with the impact I made on the team last year. I felt like I could have been so much more of an impact in many ways. Obviously what I was doing last year wasn’t enough, I need to go harder. I feel like I kinda let my team down.”
  • Herbig, while generally positive, seems to be particularly critical of himself and his performance last season. I hope that there are people on the team that are telling him how well he played last year because while it is fine to hold yourself to a high standard you should also celebrate your victories and not solely focus on things you could have done better.