The Wisconsin football team has fallen to 1-2 on the year after an embarrassing 41-13 loss to 12th ranked Notre Dame. That score however doesn’t tell the whole story, because Jim Leonhard and his defense came to play – just like they always do. Jim Leonhard’s defensive unit would finish the game allowing just 242 yards of total offense (only 9 yards rushing) with 6 sacks and 12 tackles for loss – hard to ask for more than that.
In both of the Badgers’ losses, the offense didn’t even have to be good to win, they just had to take care of the football and not beat themselves. Unfortunately, they haven’t even been able to do that. The Wisconsin football team is averaging just 19 points per game, which is good for 114th in college football at the moment – it’s going to be hard to win games scoring little, no matter how good the defense performs.
And while we know nobody in the program is going to say it out loud, this defense has played well enough to have the Badgers sitting at 3-0 instead of the disappointing 1-2 they’re currently at.
Jim Leonhard’s defense by the numbers
- Allowing 210 total yards per game (2nd best in the nation)
- Allowing 187 passing yards per game (38th in the nation)
- Allowing 23 rushing yards per game (THE best in the nation)
Jim Leonhard’s defense has elevated this defensive unit’s play in large part due to internal development. The defensive line, most notably Keeanu Benton, Matt Henningsen, and Isaiah Mullens have both eaten up blocks to free up the linebackers while being disruptive in their own right. What was a question mark entering camp certainly isn’t one anymore.
Nick Herbig has also taken the step many had hoped he would. He’s been relentless as a pass-rusher and has produced to the tune of 3.5 sacks in just three games. He will undoubtedly be a star on this defensive unit for years to come. It also goes without saying that the middle linebacker tandem of Sanborn and Chenal is one of the best in the country.
Jim Leonhard’s defense is playing at a high enough level to win the Big Ten West. Unless the offense can make some adjustments and find their way, this team is destined to continue playing in low-scoring defensive affairs this season.
I don’t think this offense is hopeless by any means, they have pieces to perform better than they’ve executed. It’s going to take an improvement from the quarterback position, and the offensive line in conjecture with a more imaginative approach in terms of play-calling. As it stands the Badgers are trying to put a square peg in a round hole, and it’s just not working. You can’t overhaul an entire offense in the season, but it’s evident that adjustments need to be made.
This Wisconsin football team certainly has time to rally together and compete to win the Big Ten West, although I don’t expect them to. One thing however is for sure, and that’s Jim Leonhard and this defensive unit deserve better.