UW defense on alert
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Wisconsin defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard has cautioned his players as they prepare to face Purdue this week to expect the unexpected.
“They do a lot of different things, whether it is run or pass game, to test your eye discipline,” Leonhard said after practice Wednesday. “Most people call them gadgets. They run so many of them, it's part of their offense. It is who they are. They execute them very well.”
The Boilermakers under first-year coach Jeff Brohm run a diverse offense that features one-back sets, empty backfields, receivers lined up in the tailback position, end-arounds, flea-flickers and throw-back passes to the quarterback.
On the first offensive play against Michigan, wide receiver Jackson Anthrop lined up in the backfield to the left of quarterback David Blough. A tight end and three wide receivers were on the right side of the formation.
Anthrop came in motion to the right, caught a lateral from Blough, and then threw back to Blough on the left side for a 24-yard gain. All five linemen led Blough down the sideline.
“Every single call, you have to understand how to make adjustments,” Leonhard said. “You have to understand where your eyes need to be or that's where they kill you.”
Brohm designed several plays that appeared to surprise Minnesota's defense in a 31-17 victory last week.
He will try to do the same against UW Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium.
“All the different little looks you give, you hope that it just kind of creates a little confusion,” Brohm said, “and gives you an edge and finds a way to get somebody open without having to win one-on-one every single time at every position.
“So it's important to have a couple different wrinkles. We need to make sure we have them this week to just kind of create some type of confusion or something that they haven't seen before.”
Loudermilk on the mend
Reserve defensive end Isaiahh Loudermilk, a regular in UW's nickel package, played sparingly last week against Nebraska and did not record a tackle.
The reason? He was hampered by a minor right-knee injury suffered the previous week against Northwestern.
“I was just a step slow,” the redshirt freshman said Wednesday, wearing a small brace on his knee and a larger brace on his left elbow.
Loudermilk had played well in the absence of senior Chikwe Obasih, who is out indefinitely with a left-knee injury. Loudermilk, who has 1 ½ sacks and six total tackles, hopes he will be able to increase his workload against Purdue.
'I'll still be braced up but I'm feeling good now,” he said. “It's a lot better this week.”
Leonhard hasn't been shy about sharing the fact his decision to end retirement just one year removed from a 10-year career in the NFL was influenced heavily by the fact the job was at his alma mater.
Asked Wednesday to discuss his first season as UW's defensive coordinator, he reaffirmed the importance of working close to home.
“I knew if I coached it was going to be here,” he said. “Madison is home. Madison was going to be home.
“This is where I was going to settle down. If coaching was going to be in my future, it was going to be here.”