When you think of Wisconsin football, you usually think of the running back position. But lately, the defense has been a constant positive for the program. The defense for the Badgers has been a top unit in the country for a while but has consistently been considered one of the best since Dave Arranda was in Madison. After he left, Justin Wilcox kept the defense going for a year before leaving for the head coaching job at Cal.
Then Jim Leonhard took over and the defense for the Wisconsin football team hasn’t skipped a beat; in fact, they have gotten better.
The Badgers return some key players to the defense from last season, perhaps none bigger than senior linebacker Jack Sanborn, who with Leo Chenal make up one of, if not the best dup in the Big Ten Conference.
They are also returning most of their secondary players. Caesar Williams, Scott Nelson, Colin Wilder, and Faion Hicks are all returning. All four players of this veteran group will be seniors heading into the 2021 season.
The defensive line will still be anchored by Keannu Benton, who could be one of the better players at his position in all of college football. They did lose defensive ends Garrett Rand (graduated) and Isaiah Loudermilk (NFL Draft), but senior Matt Henningsen and Bryson Williams are returning along with incoming Oregon transfer Isaac Townsend will be added reinforcements for the Wisconsin defensive line.
So with all of this talent and experience returning for a top-10 defense in scoring (T-9th), rushing yards allowed per game (5th), and total yards allowed per game (5th), you’d assume media outlets and pundits would be pretty high on the Badgers coming into the 2021 season.
ProFootball Focus’ Anthony Treash doesn’t see it that way. He released his top 10 defenses entering the 2021 season, and the Wisconsin football team is not on it.
At the top of the list are Alabama, Georgia, and Clemson. Those picks are understandable. But then comes Cincinnati, Washington, Texas A&M, UAB, Lousiana St., Pitt, and LSU. Sure there is some bias, but it’s hard to believe teams like UAB and Lousiana St. have better defenses than the Wisconsin Badgers.
Snubs like this are far too common for the Wisconsin football team. I’m sure they aren’t complaining though. It’s more bulletin board material and more motivation for them to prove the doubters wrong.
By the end of the 2021 season, the Wisconsin defense will be a top-10 defense in multiple categories, proving the pundits wrong yet again.