Wisconsin defense retools at OLB this spring, but set inside

Print Article

Associated Press The Badgers are set at inside linebacker, where All-American T.J. Edwards, right, is back to lead a strong group.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - It's barely a few weeks into spring and T.J. Edwards is already thinking about the first weekend of December.

Back for his senior season after testing his NFL draft stock, the All-American linebacker would like to finish an already impressive career at Wisconsin with an elusive accomplishment.

A national title would be nice. Winning the Big Ten Championship game would give the Badgers a better shot at claiming that crown.

"The part that gets me every time is we can't win the (darn) Big Ten championship, so that hurts," Edwards said. "Just going back to Indianapolis is something that sticks in my brain."

The Badgers have lost the last two conference championship games. To get to Indianapolis again, they have to win the Big Ten West. To do that, they need to restock the defense.

Inside linebacker is set with standouts Edwards, Ryan Connelly and Chris Orr. The outside needs work this spring, though.

They need two new starters at the position for a second straight year. Andrew Van Ginkel seems locked into one spot after serving as the top backup last year to Garret Dooley and Leon Jacobs. A defensive back as a senior in high school, Van Ginkel played defensive end in his first year of college at FCS school South Dakota before attending Iowa Western Community College the following year.

Now he's at linebacker with the Badgers. Rushing the passer should not be a problem after Van Ginkel recorded 6 1/2 sacks.

This spring, Van Ginkel has to get used to being the guy that the offense must watch all game long. He's also working on pass coverage again.

"I've come a long ways," Van Ginkel said.

He's off to a good start after getting interceptions in the Orange Bowl against Miami, and in the Big Ten title game against Ohio State.

"I expect to make plays like that every Saturday. Hopefully I can just keep that in mind that I'm capable of doing it," Van Ginkel said. "At the same time, I can't just dwell on it - that's last year."

Zack Baun was off to a nice start this spring at the other outside linebacker spot after missing the 2017 season with a left foot injury. He couldn't stop smiling after coming off the field after a practice last week.

"Just don't doubt us. Look at our outside linebacker room in the past. We're always reloading. We're always resetting, We're going to be ready come fall," Baun said.

Since then, Baun injured the same foot, knocking the junior out of practice indefinitely. He was due to see a specialist to determine the extent of the latest injury. Tyler Johnson, who had eight tackles and a sack in 14 games last year as a sophomore, is the other experienced returnee.

They can at least draw confidence from the Badgers' recent history at outside linebacker, where Jacobs and Dooley produced in their first and only seasons as starters. Before that, T.J. Watt parlayed a successful junior season in his only year as starter to get taken in the first round of the NFL draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Print Article

Read More Sports News

Cain, Braun boost Brewers

April 20, 2018 at 9:30 am | MILWAUKEE (AP) - Lorenzo Cain credited his Brewers teammates for his big night at the plate. Ryan Braun acknowledged them for helping him achieve a major milestone. Cain homered, doubled twice and s...

Comments

Read More

Warriors near sweep over Spurs with win

April 20, 2018 at 9:32 am | SAN ANTONIO (AP) - Kevin Durant had 26 points, nine rebounds and six assists, and the Golden State Warriors beat San Antonio 110-97 on Thursday night for a 3-0 series lead over the Spurs, who were st...

Comments

Read More

New Bears offense an eye-opener for Trubisky

April 20, 2018 at 9:32 am | LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) - Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky can see a huge difference after only three days running new coach Matt Nagy's offense. There's more to it than just the system fo...

Comments

Read More

Lester leads Cubs to win over Cards

April 20, 2018 at 9:32 am | CHICAGO (AP) - The Cubs made Jon Lester's job easier by staking him to an early lead. Lester was dominant through six innings of two-hit ball in his 100th start with the Cubs, Jason Heyward hit a tw...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(608) 365-8811
149 State Street
Beloit, WI 53511

©2018 Beloit Daily News Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X