The Wisconsin Badgers had a solid passing defense last year, ranking 6th in the Big Ten and 24th in the nation. Giving up fewer than 200 yards per game through the air, the Badgers considered pass defense one of their strengths.
But that could very likely change in 2013. This season, Wisconsin will lose three of its starters in the secondary, forcing several younger players into action. These three players had 74 starts between them, and their experience will be missed.
But new head coach Gary Andersen can’t dwell on the past- the future is his only concern. With both the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Penn State Nittany Lions regaining eligibility this coming season, the Badgers will have to do better than 4-4 to get another berth in the Big Ten Championship game.
Things will be tougher for Wisconsin this season, but there are a few guys who may step up in the secondary for the Badgers.
One player who should be a mainstay and leader for Wisconsin’s secondary is senior safety Dezmen Southward. Southward has three times as many starts (15) as the rest of Wisconsin’s secondary combined. As the Badgers move into a new era with a new head coach, look for Southward to become the senior leader in an inexperienced secondary.
Peniel Jean and Michael Trotter are two other guys who will be favorites to start. Trotter has played in 24 games with three starts for the Badgers, while Jean has appeared 18 times, but with no starts. Trotter will play safety alongside Southward, making the Badgers fairly solid up the middle, but the situation at corner is dicey.
Sophomore Darius Hillary is expected to start opposite Jean, and while the two have seen playing time in 30 games between them, one combined start is something Badger fans will worry about.
The bright side for Wisconsin is the fact that they have seven seniors up front. Coach Andersen must now hope that some of that experience rubs off on his defensive backfield.
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