Wisconsin’s defensive unit wasn’t just one of the best in the Big Ten, but in the nation last season. The Badgers gave up an average of 294 yards per game and 4.9 yards per play in 2014, good enough for fourth in the country. Only Penn State had the better defense in the conference.
Wisconsin’s secondary was arguably the best unit of players on the defensive side of the ball. In eight of their eleven wins, the Badgers held opponents under 200 yards passing. Auburn, Iowa and shockingly Purdue were the three teams that lost to Wisconsin while managing over 200 yards through the air.
Junior safety Michael Caputo was the cornerstone of Wisconsin’s staunch secondary in 2014. However, most of his impact was felt on the ground rather than defending against the pass. He led the Wisconsin defense in total tackles with 106 (good enough for ninth in the conference) and forced two fumbles. He did have one interception that came against Western Illinois in the Badgers 37-3 victory in the second week of the season.
Caputo is 6-foot-1, 212 pounds. He has the speed of a defensive back with the hit power of a linebacker. He is a sure tackler and can cover a good amount of ground downfield. Now that Wisconsin is without three of its top five tacklers—Marcus Trotter, Derek Landisch and Peniel Jean—expect a huge season out of Caputo. If he and the defense can put up the same kind of numbers as last season, Wisconsin is looking at a potential third Big Ten Championship in five years and their first Thorpe Award winner since Jamar Fletcher in 2000.
Brooks Hooley is a Junior Big Ten Football writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @brookshooley.