The Wisconsin Badgers have gotten off to a 4-1 start on the season, which involves a 2-0 record in conference play, heading into Week 7, where they face the Iowa Hawkeyes in a crucial matchup at Camp Randall Stadium.
The Badgers, fresh off a 24-13 victory over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, have started to get a grasp of things offensively and defensively under the new regime, which involves new coordinators on both sides of the ball.
Defensively, the Badgers have experimented in many ways, both with their scheme and personnel, as they've looked to find the most effective set of players to fit within defensive coordinator Mike Tressel’s system.
As the weeks have gone, there has been a certain player that has started to emerge as a key contributor for the Badgers: safety Austin Brown.
Throughout the season, Brown’s snaps have fluctuated, as he first saw action in Wisconsin’s 38-17 blowout victory over Georgia Southern, playing in 28 of a possible 82 defensive snaps.
However, the safety didn't see defensive snaps... until this past week, when Brown earned 27 of a possible 61 snaps against Rutgers.
While Hunter Wohler earned all of the snaps as the top safety on the board, Brown led the rest of the bunch with 27 snaps, occupying the second spot.
What did Brown take away from his performance in Week 6?
“Took away that I need to learn a lot to, you know, get better every week, every day, as much as I can,” Brown said. “But no, I feel like, you know, I did my job for the most part and just small little tweaks here and there just really, you know, get a bigger picture of the whole game as a whole and situations, scenarios, type stuff other than that.”
“And I feel like it was a good learning experience and it was nice to get a good amount, like 27 plays.”
In the offseason, Brown looked to earn playing time at both safety spots, finding ways to make himself available for opportunities.
“We started a lot playing our dollar defense, which is a lot of different calls, stuff like that. You’re more kind of like a linebacker in a sense, going to more nickel and base stuff,” Brown said. “You got a lot more post responsibility.”
“Even then, the beginning of the year, I got a week at a field [safety position]. So having a really good perspective of both the field and boundary safety,” Brown said. “Spring ball, I was just kind of honed in on the boundary. Now, I can actually focus on both spots.”
Seeing an increased amount of playing time, Brown praised fellow safety Hunter Wohler for the comfort he provides in allowing the rest of the group to do their job.
“100%,” Brown said about Wohler’s impact. “He is a smart player, one of the hardest workers on our team. So being around him, I feel like his knowledge, he spreads it out through communication, finding two things before they happen to be in the right position.”
How is the safety looking to build upon his performance? It comes down to finding out different ways to contribute, with the hopes of earning more playing time as the season goes along.
However, similar to the rest of the team, Brown’s primary objective is winning, which comes before any individual goals.
“Kind of looking to contribute to the team, continue to play more snaps if anything, and just do my job, do whatever I can to help the team win,” Brown said. “It’s the ultimate thing. As long as we keep winning. My row can be very minimal. It doesn’t matter to me.”
Brown will get his next opportunity at an extended role in Week 7, when the Badgers host the Iowa Hawkeyes with major Big Ten West implications, as well as the Heartland Trophy on the line.