Badgers’ Edwards helps defense rebound after disappointing loss
MADISON, Wis. — Some football players like to get as far away as possible from the game during a bye week.
No break necessary for Wisconsin’s T.J. Edwards. The senior linebacker spent this past Saturday on the couch watching games while the 16th-ranked Badgers had the weekend off.
The college football junkie has seen enough games to know that Wisconsin’s next opponent, winless Nebraska, cannot be taken lightly this weekend.
“It’s really easy to fall in that trap, but when you look at this team on film, it’s a really good football team,” Edwards said. “And we’re for sure going to get their best shot.”
A team captain, Edwards knows not to give an opponent any bulletin board material. The Badgers (3-1, 1-0 Big Ten) can also draw from the experience of having lost to then-underdog BYU a few weeks ago at home.
By the records alone, Wisconsin should be a big favorite playing Nebraska on Saturday night at Camp Randall Stadium.
But the road environment did not intimidate the Cougars, who dented Wisconsin’s run defense.
Edwards and fellow inside linebacker Ryan Connelly, who are part of the defense’s strength up the middle, took part of the blame with disappointing afternoons. The loss is a blemish on the Badgers’ resume to make the College Football Playoffs.
Coach Paul Chryst would rather focus on how players respond, rather than dwelling on mistakes. Wisconsin bounced back nicely in a 28-17 win at Iowa on Sept. 22, sending the team into the bye week on a high note.
Edwards’ interception on a tipped ball with 38 seconds left and Iowa down four helped seal the game.
“I’m going to go luck on that one. I’ll take it,” Edwards said on Monday.
A bit of athleticism goes into it, too, as well as smarts. It part of a skill set that made Edwards a preseason All-American.
“As a team, I was proud of their response, the lessons that are learned every week. It’s how you move forward,” Chyrst said. Connelly and Edwards “have played a lot of football and played a lot of really good football.
“So when things don’t go the way you’ve liked, they’re going to take it personally, and what you appreciate as a coach is that they’re going to put that into action,” Chryst added.
Cornhuskers coach Scott Frost said the Badgers might have the best set of linebackers that his team will face this season.
“The best attribute of this team we’re playing is they don’t beat themselves. They are where they’re supposed to be,” Frost said. “We have our work cut out.”