Wisconsin Badgers linebacker Chris Borland is one of the undisputed leaders of the seventh ranked defense in the country. The sophomore Borland leads the unit with 35 tackles and five tackles for loss through their first four games.
The defensive unit has been great at keeping points off the board as they rank third in the nation while allowing only 8.5 points per contest. Borland is aware that the Badgers will be tested by the #8 Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Big Ten season opener, but he’s pretty sure the defense is ready for the test.
“I think we’re ready, we had a rough start in week one, but since then we’ve worked hard. We have our fundamentals down and we have a good base going in Big Ten play,” said Borland after the team’s 59-10 win over South Dakota.
A lot of what the Badgers do on defense starts in the middle with the linebackers. Not only does Borland wreak havoc in the middle, outside linebackers Mike Taylor (pictured above) and Kevin Claxton have shown there propensity to make plays all over the field.
“They’re both great players. I enjoy playing with them because they’re both explosive playmakers,” said Borland of his teammates Taylor and Claxton.
Taylor credits a lot of his success to the communication and friendship they have among the defense.
“We’re tough. I think it’s just a good group of guys who like playing together. When everyone can have fun and be responsible — you can trust everyone — you can play fast or you can play smarter. You just are relaxed out there,” said Taylor.
“There are certain times Chris and I talk before the plays, we will talk about what to look for or what could happen. It gives you a sense of confidence knowing there’s someone you can trust having your back. That’s how it is on our defense.”
Head Coach Bret Bielema couldn’t agree more and has really taken notice of Borland and Taylor on the field.
“I think No. 44 (Borland), and No. 53 (Taylor), when you sit down and watch the coaches’ film, those guys are pretty fast. I always thought great linebackers were guys that were could erase mistakes, and Chris can do that. On the same account, he gets ahead of things. He overran two plays on Saturday that were big plays for them. So I think the more games he plays, actually, the more practice he has, the better Chris is going to become and, fortunately for us, he’s gotten better every game.”
Borland and the defense will be in the spotlight against Nebraska who has established the 13th ranked scoring offense (42.8 points per game) and 8th ranked rushing offense (272.5 rushing yards per game). Cornhuskers’ QB Taylor Martinez is one of the most dangerous running quarterbacks in the country and will surely keep the talented and speedy Badgers linebackers on their heals.
For Borland, it’s the step-up in talent he expects with Big Ten play and he can’t do anything but embrace the challenge as he knows the Badgers will be up to the task.
Do you think Borland and the Wisconsin defense is ready to stop Big Ten offenses? Let me know by commenting below!
Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers, Green Bay Packers, and Milwaukee Brewers. He also enjoys to share Fantasy Advice from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best.