While much of the attention was on the offensive side of the ball, particularly at the quarterback position, fans and the media were excited to get a chance to see the Wisconsin Badgers‘ defense in their spring game. New defensive coordinator Dave Aranda has brought his 3-4 defense to Madison, which promises to make the team a little more versatile and brings the heat on the opposing quarterback even more this season. Last season, his Utah State defense tallied 42 sacks whereas the Badgers were only able to muster up 31.
With Chris Borland and Beau Allen both sitting for the spring game, some of the younger guys were being given a chance to earn playing time this season. Two players that should be seeing quite a bit of the field this season that performed exceptionally well in the front-seven were Pat Muldoon and Vince Biegel.
Muldoon has played in at least 11 games in each of his three seasons as a Badger, compiling 2.5 sacks last season. Muldoon picked up six tackles in the spring game, two of which were for loss, including a sack. That kind of production will be needed to replace the recent departure of David Gilbert.
Biegel is another player who is looking to gain some playing time this year. Only a redshirt freshman, Biegel was one of the most accomplished players in Wisconsin high school football history. As a safety and linebacker, Biegel racked up 425 tackles and 27 sacks in his high school career. All the more impressive, in his senior year, he made 172 tackles to go along with an astounding 21 sacks. Through his performance that year, he was a finalist for the Dick Butkus Award for best linebacker and was named the best high school player in the state by both Rivals and ESPN. In the spring game, Biegel lived up to his expectations and then some, making four tackles and two sacks. Biegel could be looked upon early to contribute to replace the graduating Mike Taylor.
With only Dezmen Southward returning from last season in the secondary, the team is looking for younger players to step up. One of the players who really stood out on Saturday was Sojurn Shelton. Shelton, who stands at just 5-9, is exactly the type of impact corner the Badgers need. Shelton picked up four tackles including a tackle for loss and was all over the field with his coverage. Shelton will really need to step up this season as he fights for the nickel corner role. When asked about his play, head coach Gary Andersen said, “Yeah, Sojourn, he has really competed all spring long, and the way he’s handled the adjustment coming from high school has been impressive, not just on the field, but off the field.”
With no more practice until the summer, the spring game gave everyone a good chance to look at more of the depth chart and see some of the younger players get live reps in front of a crowd. The next time the Badgers take the field is on Aug. 31 against the Massachusetts Minutemen, and it will be interesting to see Muldoon, Shelton and Biegel in a live situation.