‘D’ starts off slow for 3rd straight week

first_imgJEFF SCHORFHEIDE/Herald photoFor the third time in as many games, the Wisconsin defense struggled in the first half, allowing an inferior team to keep the score close at halftime. The problem lies in facing teams showing offensive wrinkles that the Badgers had not prepared for and making the necessary adjustments. “We’ve played against teams basically blindly, and they are coming out with new offenses,” middle linebacker Elijah Hodge said. “We just have to play our defense.”Those issues, according to Hodge, improve not only as the game progresses but also throughout the season.”Once we realize what they’re doing, we settle down,” Hodge added. “The further you get into the season, you have a little bit of [a feel] for what the offense is going to do. There’s not that many surprises because you have more film on the teams.”In its first three games, UW has struggled to separate itself from opponents in the first half. Washington State (14), UNLV (7) and The Citadel (21) all scored the majority of their team’s points in the first half. The scores aren’t coming on fluke plays either. All three opponents have been successful moving the ball early on, scoring on lengthy touchdown drives. The six touchdowns the Badgers have allowed in the first half of games this season have come on drives of 81 yards (once), 80 yards (three times) and 72 yards (twice).”It all boils down to reading your keys and doing your job every single play, and you’ll be in the right position, and that’s what we weren’t doing in the first half,” cornerback Allen Langford said. “So that’s what we had a big emphasis on in the second half.”That approach has worked out for the Badgers so far. The defense has allowed only 23 points in the second half this season on two touchdowns and three field goals. Henry to the rescueCornerback Jack Ikegwuonu left the game early in the first quarter with a thigh injury. After walking around and getting looked at by the UW training staff, Ikegwuonu ended up seeing limited action the rest of the way. “Jack took a shot to the upper thigh, and he tried to go back in there, but with those things, typically what we try to do is [try to] heal him right then and there,” head coach Bret Bielema said. “We should have him back, hopefully for practice, Tuesday.”Stepping in for Ikegwuonu was true freshman Aaron Henry. “It’s tough going out there to be a freshman corner and play the way he did,” Langford said. “A few [mistakes] here and there, but it’s corner, and there’ll be stuff here and there.”Support for ShaughnessyMatt Shaughnessy’s four-tackle performance Saturday was not a career high, nor was it even the highest total on the team. But the defensive end’s game against The Citadel impressed his teammates and coaches.Shaughnessy left the team at the conclusion of last week’s game against UNLV to return home to Connecticut to be with his brother, who is seriously ill. He didn’t return to Madison until Wednesday and, consequently, didn’t practice Monday or Tuesday.”Anytime anyone goes through situation like that, the only person that knows what that’s like is him,” Bielema said. “He prepared well, basically only practiced Wednesday and Thursday. His brother is still very ill and going through a very serious phase of his life, both Matt and his brother and his whole family. We continue to support him and back him up and do everything we can to make it as smooth as we can for him.””Not only as a teammate, but I see the team as a second family. If he needs me, I’ll be there for him,” running back P.J. Hill said. “I’m pretty sure I speak for a lot of other guys on the team.”last_img read more