In recent years, it seems like Wisconsin’s defense has been elite, but the offense has been lacking. Sure, there are the random bouts of rush dominance, but Alex Hornibrook doesn’t scream ‘threat from the QB’. As we move into 2017, how do you see the competition between the two going? Is it possible the offense actually lives up to its defensive counterpart, or is it more likely that the defense has to carry the offense? Will there be another try-hard like the Watt brothers to carry the torch for the stingy defense? How does the defense end up faring overall?
Candystripes: Wisconsinites like their defense like they like their beer (I assume): stout, local, and large. Also, there’s apparently a UW-Stout, which I think is a nice bit of trivia.
LPW: According to Speth’s monday potluck, Wisconsin runs a 3-4 defense. I’m very leery of that formation, and kudos if they can make it work. Their secondary looks to have a couple of holes in it with inexperience from Natrell Jamerson and Lubern Figaro. Cichy and Edwards look to be good at linebacker. I think this defense will be solid.
Jesse: I mentioned this yesterday, but I love the Wisconsin defense in general. Yes, there is a not-insignificant amount of attrition that will easily lead to early season mistakes, but this is a team that was Top 10 Nationally in total defense, and one who allowed a meager 3.29 yards per carry. As Speth mentioned, the defensive line is back and will be an anchor for that to continue.
The trick to being elite, however, does really lie in the secondary. The new guy at Defensive Coordinator has experience working out a crop of new guys, in that he was literally the position coach last year, but Jim Leonhard is as green as green gets. The question for me really is if this years’ secondary can be as opportunistic - 22 interceptions - as it was last year. I’m not so sure, but at the same time, Wisconsin has the benefit of the doubt these days. I’m hedging and saying the defense wins more games than the offense does for the Badgers. It’s easier that way.
Aaron: The defense should be fine with plenty of returning talent on the defensive line and secondary, but the ceiling for this unit will raise if it finds a way to replace the pass-rushing excellence of T.J. Watt, who led the team with 11.5 sacks in 2016. With the other starting outside linebacker Vince Biegel also moving on to the NFL, the Badgers will be relying on junior college transfer Andrew Van Ginkel and rising senior Garrett Dooley to pick up a lot of production. If they’re able to fill those big shoes adequately, we could be looking at the top defense in the Big Ten.
Dead Read: I note an absence of Wattage. I hope for an abrupt return to mediocrity.