Landisch leading UW defense
MADISON, Wis. - Playmakers on defense continue to emerge for No. 17 Wisconsin in early season games. Senior inside linebacker Derek Landisch has flexed his muscles on leadership through four games for the Badgers, and recorded his first career interception in the first quarter on Saturday against South Florida.
Coach Gary Andersen said the veteran's presence has been valuable and is gaining momentum. In the past two victories, Landisch has three sacks and 5.5 tackles-for-loss.
"It becomes stronger and stronger; his presence is felt on the field, his presence is felt in the locker room more every single day and every single week," Andersen said. "And you can see it on Tuesday just as well as you can see it on Saturday.
"He's a huge part of that defense, and there's some of those kids that are out there playing right now that need to continually learn how to prepare consistently, and they should follow Derek Landisch."
Despite collecting three straight wins, Wisconsin's defense gave up big plays in wins against Bowling Green and South Florida. It's a trend that concerns Andersen. "We do not want to be known as a defense that gives up big plays," he said.
Along those same lines, Landisch wants to see the Badgers defense becoming a big-play team with regard to creating turnovers.
Landisch said he's embraced being a mentor to younger players, particularly safety Lubern Figaro, who forced his first career fumble in Badgers' 27-10 win over South Florida.
"Lubern had a lot on his plate to start the season, I can only imagine how overwhelming it was," Landisch said. "I didn't redshirt either, and I know what that's like. Everything coming at you, big crowds that we play in front of; and I'm really proud of Lubern and how he's developed throughout the season. You can see his improvement from week-to-week."
While Andersen and many players feel the Badgers need to start out faster on the offensive end, linebacker Marcus Trotter said beginning quick is critical across the board, especially with the Big Ten Conference season kicking off next weekend at Northwestern.
The Badgers forced a pair of turnovers in their win against South Florida, and through four games this season have forced seven turnovers, and converted five into touchdowns. Defense is performing well, but Trotter said there's always room for improvement.
"That's the bottom line, we have to start faster in all three phases of the game," Trotter said. "We have a group of guys that can accomplish a lot here, but we have little time doing that. I think the biggest thing is keep on getting better and not being complacent."
Trotter also has taken notice of Landisch's leadership surge this season. Landisch missed three games last season due to injury and only started twice. Though he was hampered in fall camp with a hamstring injury the week heading into the season opener against LSU, he's rebounded to play extremely well.
"He's a really quiet guy but when he puts on those pads and helmet, he's a pretty crazy dude," Trotter said.