Badger Of Honor answers questions about Pinstripe Bowl

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With some help from my cousin Marc who is an avid Wisconsin Badgers fan and alum we posed questions to FanSided’s Wisconsin site Badger of Honor and their Expert Sam Land ahead of Thursday’s Pinstripe Bowl game with the Miami Hurricanes.

(Wisconsin’s) Defense is young, inexperienced and bad heading into the Pinstripe Bowl
I’m not sure I would describe the overall performance of Wisconsin’s defense this season as bad. In fact, given the cards the unit was dealt, I was actually somewhat encouraged by its play, particularly in the secondary. However, you are absolutely right in regards to the youth and inexperience on this side of the ball.

Let’s start with the defensive line. This is the level of the defense that I feel has played the worst this year. Going into the season, the Badgers were already going to be hard-pressed to replace the production of three rock-solid defensive ends who graduated and played a ton of snaps over their careers.

Then, to make matters worse, Wisconsin suffered a litany of injuries on the line. Garrett Rand, who was a projected starter at one of the defensive end spots, suffered a season-ending injury in the spring. The other projected starter, Isaiahh Loudermilk, missed the first couple of games and has not been at full strength all season.

Lastly, nose tackle Olive Sagapolu, arguably the most important piece of the entire defense, saw his season ended after suffering an injury in the loss to Northwestern back in October. Considering all of this, it was not a surprise to see the line struggle this year.

Nonetheless, not having a strong defensive line played a huge role in the regression of the entire defense from last season to this one. Wisconsin has gotten great play from the linebackers, but like the line, the secondary had to replace a lot of production from last season, and there were growing pains.