Who Are Wisconsin's Three Key Defensive Players vs. Miami?

Who Are Wisconsin's Three Key Defensive Players vs. Miami?

Football

Who Are Wisconsin's Three Key Defensive Players vs. Miami?

Neither season went as expected for either Wisconsin or Miami as both schools went from preseason top-10 to finishing 7-5. The only bit of motivation for the Badgers is that UW has a chance to win its fifth straight bowl game.

For Wisconsin to go into the offseason with a little momentum, here are the three key players to watch on UW’s defense against Miami’s offense for the 2018 Pinstripe Bowl on Dec.27.

3, Cornerback Rachad Wildgoose

Having a team-leading seven pass breakups, the true freshman will likely draw the defensive assignment of defending Lawrence Cager, who becomes Miami’s top receiving target now that Jeff Thomas transferred from the program (he committed to Illinois on Dec.21). Wildgoose will need to be sound in his technique in order to make sure he doesn’t get flagged for either pass interference or defensive holding, putting himself in a good position of making a play on the ball to shut his side of the field down.

2, Outside Linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel

Van Ginkel’s interception against Miami in last year’s Orange Bowl helped Wisconsin turn the momentum to their side. The senior hasn’t had many of those plays this year as he’s battled through injuries, but he enters his final game with 46 tackles, seven tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks, which led the team. Miami has only allowed 2.1 sacks per game this season so being able to consistently create pressure will be a challenge at times.

N’Kosi Perry has started the last four games for the Hurricanes but has been wildly erratic. While he completed 60 percent of his passes in two of those games, Perry completed a combined 11 passes on 40 attempts (27.5 completion percentage) against Duke and Pittsburgh. In total, Perry has two touchdowns to no interceptions over the four games.

Even if Van Ginkel can’t take Perry down, making him get rid of the football before he’s ready is equally as important considering the quarterback has registered 158 yards rushing this season.

1, Inside Linebacker T.J. Edwards

For the first time in his Wisconsin career, Edwards went over the century mark for tackles with 104 (68 solos). Finishing his career leading the team in tackles for the third time, Edwards’ steady tackling will need to come into play in order to help slow down Miami’s rushing attack. Miami is averaging 197.3 rushing yards per game on an average of 5.2 yards per carry. The Hurricanes have two players in Travis Homer (969 rushing yards) and DeeJay Dallas (609) who have combined for 10 rushing touchdowns. With both backs averaging better than five yards per carry, it will be important that Edwards meets them at the line of scrimmage to make sure neither can get past the second level of Wisconsin’s defense. Containing Homer and Dallas will force Miami to beat Wisconsin with its passing attack, which has been suspect.

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