Notebook: Biegel ‘an animal’ as Wisconsin defense overwhelms Purdue

Wisconsin linebacker Vince Biegel produced an eye-opening performance Saturday at Purdue, registering three sacks.

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Wisconsin linebacker Vince Biegel quite simply could not be stopped from wreaking havoc on Purdue’s backfield. In fact, the only player capable of slowing him, it seemed, was his own teammate.

Following one of his three sacks, the ever-exuberant Biegel began celebrating, when Badgers nose guard Arthur Goldberg — all 290 pounds of him — sidled up next to Biegel and landed on his foot. The force of the impact caused Biegel to limp, though only temporarily, much to the relief of fans, teammates and coaches.

"I’m fine," Biegel said following Wisconsin’s 34-16 victory at Ross-Ade Stadium. "No blown ACL there. We’ll be a little more careful next sack celebration."

Based on Saturday’s performance, there is every reason to believe more celebrations are on the way.

Biegel finished with seven tackles, including those three sacks and four tackles for loss. All three marks represented career highs for the redshirt sophomore, who leads the Badgers with 6.5 sacks this season. Biegel’s three sacks were the most by a Badgers player since Alex Lewis had five against Purdue on Oct. 18, 2003.

"Vinnie had a great game," Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen said. "Probably his best game, but I hope not his best game as a Badger as he continues to move forward in his career. He was highlighted and made some big plays for us today. We’ve got to slow him down on the celebrations a little bit. That makes me a little nervous. But he was physical, he was hard for them to deal with. He’s a tremendous athlete when he gets out there and rushes the passer."

Biegel arrived at Wisconsin as a highly touted linebacker from Lincoln High School in Wisconsin Rapids. His father, Rocky, played linebacker at BYU and his uncle and grandfather also were college football players. But Biegel has quickly formed an identity of his own as a passionate pursuer of the ball in Wisconsin’s 3-4 defense.

On Saturday, Biegel credited defensive coordinator Dave Aranda for drawing up blitz packages that would allow him to take advantage of his speed and strength in 1-on-1 situations. During a nine-play stretch in the second half, Biegel recorded all of his sacks. He dropped Purdue quarterback Austin Appleby for a four-yard loss on first-and-10 at the Boilermakers’ own 29 in the third quarter. Two series later, he sacked Appleby twice, for losses of five and 10 yards.

Badgers 34, Boilermakers 16

"For myself, it was kind of getting the confidence rolling," Biegel said. "Once I got that first sack, I kind of started rolling. Secondary was covering great, defensive line was getting penetration for myself. It just freed me up. Got to credit the whole defense for the three-sack performance by myself."

Biegel now ranks fifth on the team in total tackles (39) and is tied for first with linebacker Derek Landisch for tackles for a loss (12).

"Biegel’s an animal," Badgers nose guard Warren Herring said. "Like last year. He was coming on as a leader last year. Very vocal. Very passionate guy. Expect to see more of him. Most definitely."

Injury news: Wisconsin did not have the services on Saturday of fullback Derek Watt, who felt tightness in his quad. Derek Straus replaced him in the lineup. Andersen said he expected Watt to be ready to play next week against Nebraska. Watt missed five games earlier this season while recovering from a broken right foot.

The status of Badgers defensive end Konrad Zagzebski, meanwhile, is less certain. Zagzebski appeared to injure his left foot or ankle in the first quarter and did not return to the game. He left the locker room with a boot over his left foot, and Andersen did not have an update on his condition.

Tindal plays: Badgers freshman cornerback Derek Tindal’s mother died earlier this week, but he traveled with the team and played briefly against Purdue. Tindal normally is Wisconsin’s third cornerback, but Andersen used Devin Gaulden for the majority of those scenarios on Saturday.

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"I just worry about him a little bit," Andersen said of Tindal. "(I) want to be smart. He said he was fine. He looked fine. He appeared to play OK when he was in there at the end. But it’s good for him to get out there and move around a little bit. He came out of the locker room today. He seemed fine. We all know it’s going to be up and down.

"I expect him to come back next week and be ready to go. But he’s going to have to go back home next week and deal with a very tough situation."

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