Tie strengthens secondary

first_imgCoupling corners Allen Langford and Jake Ikegwuonu with the senior leadership of safeties Roderick Rogers and Joe Stellmacher, Wisconsin’s secondary last year was among the strongest in the nation. With the departure of Rogers and Stellmacher this year, the uncertainty at the safety position has become a concern for some.But not for members of the UW football team. “I look at it as a huge opportunity to showcase my talent and help this defense be better and the team be better,” sophomore defensive back Shane Carter said. “I never really looked at it as a challenge; things are challenging. At the same time, you attack challenges and make the best of your opportunities. I’m just as ready as I can (be) to help the defense.”Carter and fellow sophomore defensive back Aubrey Pleasant have stepped into the starting positions and are making strides. The two of them are finally getting a chance to play — and not just because Stellmacher and Rogers are gone. Pleasant has twice battled back from a tear in his labrum that hindered him much of the past year. Oddly enough, Carter missed a portion of last year with a torn labrum as well. This string of connections has made the two close. “We went through a lot,” Pleasant said. “I mean it was different having surgery during spring ball because everybody is still a little loose and can catch up, but having it during the season is a little different. We spent a lot of time together. We talked a lot together. We figured that next year, if we handle our business, we could start. We have a really close connection.”Carter added, “We grew close over that time not only as friends, but obviously doing the things we had to do with the medical staff and all those things.”Beyond Carter and Pleasant, Wisconsin has quite a bit of depth at the defensive back position. And with a healthy Pleasant and Carter, the secondary could even be deeper than last season’s. “We have a lot of great players back there that are ready to play and [are] hungry,” Carter said. “I know Kim (Royston) and Quincy (Landingham) that just came in, he could still be in high school and they’re just going out hard and trying to make plays. So I think all of us are going out there are eager to play and fill the position that Stell and Rod left.”While Carter and Pleasant are trying to shake off the rust from nearly six months of not playing, greyshirt freshman Landingham is learning the system for the first time.Needless to say, it has been a process. “It has been a big adjustment coming in trying to learn all the plays, all the coverages so fast,” Landingham said. “But I think if I keep on working at it everyday I’ll get better at it.”Playing doesn’t even stop for the greyshirt when he’s on the sidelines. “I just try to take mental reps, think about if I was out there, what would I be doing in the motion, what would I do when they come with this kind of route, and then (I) apply what I was thinking about,” Landingham said.Restored health and a strong relationship between Carter and Pleasant, along with some new faces, makes Wisconsin’s secondary a bit safer than many would anticipate.Practice notesThe defense prevented the offense from completing many passes down the field in the 11-on-11 drill. The play of the secondary was particularly notable. Second-teamers Kim Royston and Ben Strickland picked off Allan Evridge’s and Jon Erickson’s passes and ran them back before the offense could touch them up. … Joining Strickland and Royston in the second team’s defensive backfield were Josh Nettles and Jay Valai. … Former running back Jamil Walker looked comfortable working with coach Randall McCray and the defensive line. … Brandon Kelly remains out for disciplinary reasons and defensive lineman Justin Ostrowski didn’t dress (reason undisclosed).last_img

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