4. Wisconsin Badgers College Football Preview 2021: Defense
– The 2020 Wisconsin season might have been a dud by the program’s standards, but 1) the defense was among the best in the nation against the run, 2) it led the Big Ten and was fifth in the nation overall allowing just under 300 yards per game, 3) it led the Big Ten and was fifth in the nation overall in third down stops, and 4) it gets back eight starters – and more depending on the alignment – including somehow not losing defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard.
– Somewhat quietly, Wisconsin is bringing back a loaded linebacking corps. Jack Sanborn and Leo Chenal are big tacklers on the inside, and Nick Herbig and Noah Burks are about to become bigger pass rushers on the outside.
The line loses Isaiahh Loudermik and Garrett Rand off of the front three, but 6-4, 313-pound junior Keeanu Benton is a big veteran on the nose and landing Oregon transfer Isaac Townsend for one end is a big deal.
– The secondary didn’t have as many problems as the receiving corps, but the issues gave a slew of young players time to emerge. Top corner Rachad Wildgoose got hurt early and now he’s a Buffalo Bill. Losing safety Eric Burrell hurts, but all the other main defensive backs return.
Scott Nelson is a good all-around safety who can pop, and the corners have the experience now – seniors Faion Hicks and Caesar Williams each earned All-Big Ten honors.