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Better Know a Badger: Joe Schobert

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After graduating from Waukesha West High School, Joe Schobert was set to walk on to the North Dakota football team. That was before a breakout performance in a Wisconsin state all-star game that drew the attention of UW coaches, however. Now, the sophomore linebacker is coming off the first start of his career after making a rapid rise up the depth chart at Wisconsin.

What's it been like to go from walk-on at North Dakota to starter at UW?
"It means a lot to me to be playing for my home state team. Playing for the Badgers is what every Wisconsin kid dreams about growing up watching games every Saturday. It's crazy to think about where I could be if the opportunity to play for UW didn't present itself, and to have the chance to start last Saturday was a great feeling."

How did it feel to get the call from the Badgers saying they were interested?
"It was a little hectic at the time, as I was set to head to North Dakota, but it all worked out once everything settled down. It was a great feeling and was a big relief that I would be closer to my family and they'd be able to come watch games, even if I wasn't playing." 

You were a four-sport athlete in high school. Why did you settle on football?
"After my junior season of football, we did really well and won a state championship and I had a good year, so coaches started calling and sending letters. That was the first time I realized I could play Division I football and could achieve that if I worked hard and put time into it."

What led to your rise up the depth chart beginning in the spring?
"Unfortunately we had a number of guys get hurt during camp, and while that was unfortunate for them, it provided me with an opportunity to step up and make plays. All you have to do is make a couple of plays and the coaches will take notice and stick you in more situations. You have to keep coming in every day and working like you don't have another day and try to take advantage of every opportunity they give you."

What's it like playing in a 3-4 defense? What adjustments have you made?
"The best thing for me is the new defense since everyone is on the same level playing field, in terms of learning. Last season I came in a receiver, then a safety and eventually moved to linebacker at the start of the season, so I was always in catch-up mode. I didn't know exactly what I was doing all the time and was always trying to catch up in the playbook. This year, everyone started out on the same page and everyone was learning at the same pace. I think that really helped me."

What makes you suited to play the field-side linebacker in the 3-4 scheme?
"It's more of a hybrid safety-linebacker position. I have prior experience as a safety covering tight ends and playing in space. I'm fast enough to take the offensive tackles by surprise sometimes on speed rushes and blitzes. I also have leverage on the outside against the run. We have one read and we know what we're doing and we get to make plays off of that."


Facebook or Twitter?

Favorite Meal?
Victory meal of lobster, crab or filet mignon

Favorite Athlete?
Clay Matthews

Favorite Quote?
"I've failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed." - Michael Jordan 

Favorite Spot on Campus?
Memorial Union Terrace

Secret Talents?
Playing video games

- Ryan Evans

The Voice: Reaction reveals Badgers' true character

Before I started writing this column, I thought maybe I should move on to another topic. The old line "The horse is dead. Get off of it," comes to mind.

Then again, as an observer I have a luxury that a coach or a player does not have -- I can hang on to a topic a bit longer.

In the aftermath of last Saturday's baffling ending in Tempe, it has been amazing to see how UW head coach Gary Andersen and his players have dealt with it. Of course fans are upset. I was ticked off. Still am. 

Yet try to imagine how they feel. The players and coaches who worked all week, and all night, at Sun Devil Stadium only to have a bungled piece of officiating deny them a chance to win the game fair and square.

Leaving the stadium that night, one could not help but be impressed by how the head coach and the players handled the media session.

I was thinking about that, and about how the officiating crew simply ran off the field, with no worries about facing questions from reporters.

What is wrong with that picture?

Look, when talking about officials, a team's radio announcer is walking a tight rope. We are all homers, right? So I'll stop there and focus on other matters.

Such as the postgame interviews. On our radio broadcast, we always interview the head coach and when possible, a player. Last Saturday night we did our usual interview with Andersen, which included a few questions about the final play. He answered the questions on point, and was a complete professional.

After thanking him, I stalled for a few moments, not sure whether we would be able to talk to a player. I then went into a rather lengthy commercial break. Just as I went into the break, our sideline reporter, Patrick Herb, informed me that Chris Borland would be available. I told Patrick to relay the message that the break would last a few minutes, and with the team wanting to get home, we would understand if Chris just wanted to move on.

Nope. Borland waited out the long break, and we had our interview. 

It may be a minor thing, but to me it is just another example of what Chris Borland is about, and what this program is about. Credibility and accountability.

Every Monday, Andersen meets with the media. As you would expect, this week's session was very well attended, and everyone was eager to hear more from the coach regarding Saturday's bizarre ending.

Perhaps he was still steaming on the inside, but on the outside, he was cool, calm and collected. He made it clear that, while the outcome of the game will not change, he wants accountability. Just as he expects from himself and his players.

As he was answering question after question, I just kept thinking to myself "This guy is good."

By the nature of our jobs, Gary Andersen and I spend a fair amount of time together. We conduct various radio interviews as well as a couple of segments on his weekly TV show. Still, I can't say we really know each other that well yet. 

However, with each passing day, I am more and more convinced the Badgers football program is not in good hands. It is in great hands.

So to the fans, go ahead and be upset about how the game ended. But I would hope you are proud of how your team, led by its coach, responded after a game ended by circumstances beyond its control.

Matt Lepay is the Voice of fhe Badgers and provides play-by-play coverage of Wisconsin football and men's basketball on the Badger Sports Network. Read "The Voice" each Thursday in Varsity, the official digital magazine of Wisconsin Athletics.

Better Know a Badger: Sam Arneson

Thumbnail image for arneson_blog.jpg

The tight end tradition at Wisconsin is well-documented as the Badgers have sent numerous players at that position to the NFL. UW again boasts a promising crop of tight ends this season, including junior Sam Arneson, who hopes to put his name among Wisconsin's historic list of standouts at his position. Arneson, a Merrill, Wis., native, has two catches for 17 yards this season.

Your dad, Dave Arneson, played football at Wisconsin in the 1980s. What does it mean to you to be able to follow in his footsteps and wear the Cardinal and White?
"It means a lot. Like every other kid in Wisconsin I grew up as a huge Badgers fan. With my dad being a former player and my mom having gone to school here, I grew up coming to Madison all the time. I have been going to games since I was 4 years old. I've always had the dream of being a Badger and I worked hard and was fortunate and lucky and be able to come here and follow in my father's footsteps."

What has been the highlight of your Badgers career so far?

"There have been so many cool moments that I've been fortunate to have. I've been able to be a part of two straight Big Ten championship teams. Obviously scoring a touchdown in last year's Big Ten championship game was pretty darn cool. The Rose Bowl is always a special event. Not many guys get a chance to play in a game like that, so going out there twice was very special."

Offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig has said he feels like his has four tight ends that he is confident in. How does that level of depth at your position help the offense?
"You've seen us use three tight ends on the field at a time this season, which has been awesome. You've seen us be able to rotate guys in and out if someone is tired or nicked up or something. We have so much depth at tight end that we're all ready to step up and not miss a beat. That is great to have. We also have so much experience at the position with three fifth-year seniors and myself, a junior. Tight ends have really been a strength for our offense so far and we're going to continue to try and get better and keep building that."

Wisconsin has produced a number of NFL tight ends in recent years. It's had both blocking-type players, like Jake Byrne, and noted pass-catchers, like Owen Daniels and Lance Kendricks, latch on with NFL teams. What type of tight end do you see yourself as?
"I see myself as a mix. I wouldn't say one or the other. Somebody who was here recently and did both, like me, is Garrett Graham. That's somewhat the style that I play. They'll line me up as the Y, but they can also split me out wide. That's the key, to be versatile, that way they can use me at any time. One of my first coaches always said, 'don't limit yourself, be able to do both.' So I've really worked on being able to both block and catch passes and I think that has helped me see the field as much as I could."

What has the new coaching staff brought to the offense this season?
"The offense hasn't changed too much. We're back to, even more, stressing the details again. There is more of an emphasis on all the little things, all the time. That's what's going to make us a good team. When you're tired, focusing on the little things and making them happen is what will make us a successful team."

The defense has gotten off to a strong start this season. What challenges to they pose to the offense in practice?
"You can't get much stronger than back-to-back shutouts. We went against them all spring all fall and that defense is a son of a gun to go against. That 3-4 (formation) presents some things that you don't see that often. Most of the Big Ten teams are 4-3 teams, so you're not used to seeing it and also, we have some good players on our defense. They play hard and are well-coached, so I can see why they've been successful so far and I expect them to keep it up."

- Ryan Evans

Infographic: Badgers blast Tennessee Tech

A graphical look at the Badgers' 48-0 win over Tennessee Tech to improve to 2-0 on the season and become the first Big Ten team to record consecutive shutouts to open a season since 1963.


Which teams are Badgers' NFL favorites?

Varsity_130905_Cover_Image.jpgWith the NFL season kicking off Thursday, this week's edition of Varsity magazine posed the question to a number of UW student-athletes: Which NFL team is your favorite?

You can read the responses in Varsity, but here are a couple from members of the UW football team that didn't make the magazine. Also be sure to check out our Badgers in the NFL page for updates on all 30 former UW players that made NFL rosters.

Bart Houston - Redshirt Freshman QB (Dublin, Calif.)
"Even though I'm from California, I'm a Green Bay Packers fan. My dad is a lifelong Packers fan and actually named me after Bryan Bartlett 'Bart' Starr. My full name is Bartlett, but I've always chosen to go by Bart."

Rob Havenstein - Junior RT (Mount Airy, Md.)
"The NFL was never really my thing. My brother really liked the Baltimore Ravens, so I cheered for anyone who was playing the Ravens. Then I came to UW and didn't have anyone to root for, so I started cheering for the Ravens again because they were winning. But don't tell anyone that. I've been telling everyone I'm a lifelong, diehard Ravens fan."

Corey Clement - Freshman RB (Glassboro, N.J.)
"It was the Philadelphia Eagles, but once my man Terrell Owens left I went with the Dallas Cowboys. But then they fell off and T.O. left, and after that my NFL fandom fell off. So, I really don't have a favorite NFL team right now."

Better Know a Badger: Tyler Marz

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Sophomore OL Tyler Marz (61) found a home at left tackle in the Badgers' season-opening 45-0 win over UMass last Saturday. The 6-foot-5, 321-pound Marz got his first career start when he lined up at left tackle against the Minutemen after bouncing around a number of positions during fall camp.
Your last name is pronounced (MARE-its) nothing like its spelled. Does anyone ever get it right on the first try?
"I don't think so. No one did through high school and no one has during college. It's become a first day of school tradition of sorts. It's a 100 percent German name, or at least that's what my parents told me."
You've had the opportunity to sit behind some NFL-caliber offensive linemen in your career at Wisconsin. What have you been able to learn from them?
"A lot of technique stuff like hand and foot placement, as well as learning to dive into the playbook. They always gave me pointer here and there, such as what defenses are going to do against you -- they were all very smart that way. It has been a positive to have those guys in front of me and leading me on."
What is it like to block for the high-caliber running backs at Wisconsin?
"Having those three guys (James White, Melvin Gordon, Corey Clement) back there, and knowing that they are hard runners, is awesome and it's great to block for them. It is our job to do that, so we come in here every day, work hard and do that. Hopefully the outcome is that they all do get 100 yards every time out. That's our duty and that's the goal we have for them every day."
What has it been like to work with new offensive line coach T.J. Woods?
"He's been great. He's really good at teaching the defensive looks, a lot like what the upper classmen linemen will do. He's really good at teaching technique, even if it's the slightest thing like working your feet, or balance. Overall he's just a great coach."
You had a rapid ascent up the depth chart during fall camp. What's it like now to have the opportunity to be a starter?
"It's a great feeling. All of my hard work up until now is paying off. Now I have to keep adding on to that and keep building. I got my first start out of the way on Saturday and got some of the nerves out. Now I can keep building on that because there is a lot that I need to keep working on. I'd like to improve my technique, speed, physicality and dive into the playbook even more and overall become a better player."
You were a three-sport star in high school (baseball, basketball, football). What was your favorite sport?
"I did a lot of basketball growing up, I was in AAU stuff and I played spring and summer baseball. Football was actually the sport I took up last, but I started to focus on it more as I started getting some looks from colleges."

- Ryan Evans

Archived Gameday Blog: Football vs. UMass

The UWBadgers.com Gameday Blog had all the coverage of Wisconsin's 45-0 season-opening win over UMass on Saturday, Aug. 31.

Recap the action as it happened here: Gameday Blog: Wisconsin Football vs. UMass

Gary Andersen's day in Bristol for #ESPNB1G


Wisconsin football head coach Gary Andersen spent Wednesday in Bristol, Conn., spreading the word about the Badgers across a number of ESPN platforms. Re-live the sights and sounds of Andersen's day at the Worldwide Leader in Sports:

- Transcript: Andersen Press Conference  |  Photo Gallery

CHICAGO -- When the ACC's coordinator of officials, Doug Rhoads, suggested that South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney's resounding hit on Michigan tailback Vincent Smith might have led to Clowney being ejected from the game under the new "targeting'' rules, it sent shockwaves through college football.

Some washed ashore here Wednesday at the Big Ten Media Days.

"I was shocked by that (Rhoads' interpretation),'' said Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland. "If that warrants an ejection maybe they should put flags in the running back's belt and we'll pull them out instead of playing tackle football. That was a perfect tackle.''

Others felt the same way, including Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner, who handed the ball to Smith on the play in question. "It was a good football play,'' he said of Clowney's memorable tackle in the Outback Bowl. "I don't think he could have been ejected at all.

"They're trying to make football kind of a soft game if that's the case.''

Offering the running back's perspective, UW senior James White joined the chorus. "I thought it was a clean hit,'' he said. "It looked like a pretty good form tackle to me. But they're trying to look out for player safety. You just hope they're consistent with it.''

That was also Gardner's take on how games might be officiated. "I was watching a roundtable with (South Carolina's) Steve Spurrier,'' he noted.  "He was saying it would be hard to implement it if not everyone was calling it the same way. I just hope it's fair.''

The objective is to penalize those players who launch (or leave their feet) to deliver a hit above the shoulders, especially when they use the crown of their helmet to strike an opponent. Purdue defensive tackle Bruce Gaston didn't see Clowney's hit in that light.

"From a defensive point of view, it was a good hit,'' Gaston said. "It was a hard hit, it was a hit that every D-lineman, I can safely say, would love to get. As far as the rules, I can't comment because at the end of the day I don't have anything to do with them.

"I always think there's the need for greater safety. But the sport we play is football. It's a very physical sport and everyone knows that once they put the pads on in the Big Ten.''

Obviously, the intent is to protect defenseless players. Such as Smith? "He's getting the ball so he may be defenseless,'' Gardner said. "But the goal for the defense is to get the ball (Smith fumbled on the play). He (Clowney) did what he had to do to get the football.''

Although ejections would be reviewable by the replay official in the press box, the new guidelines on targeting -- or high hits -- has stirred much discussion and debate, particularly because it's so subjective in nature, maybe too much so.

"It puts a huge amount of pressure on the officials and there's such a very fine line to be drawn,'' said Wisconsin Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez. "I understand the intent of the rule. But, boy, you can't take the aggressiveness out of the game.

"You're trying to eliminate someone going for the head, the kill shots. But an ejection for just a clean hit, a hard hit, I would really question that. You have to send a message some way. I just don't know if this is the right way. But it's sure going to send a strong message.''

Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini, a defensive architect, voiced his concerns Wednesday.  "The scary thing for me is the application part of it,'' he said. "I don't think it's an easy thing to call. In my opinion, it's going a little bit overboard right now.

"I understand where it's coming from,'' he continued. "It's about the safety of the players and we're all for that. We just have to make sure that we're not messing with the integrity of the game or the sport and how it's supposed to be played.''

Borland echoed that sentiment. "You can't change the game too much,'' he said. Yet, he recognized the need for change given the severity of the penalty. "Ejection is a strong word. You can't afford that, especially if you're a starter and key player.''

Does a defensive player have to condition himself to tackle differently? "I don't think you can afford to do that,'' Borland said. "A fundamentally sound tackle isn't going to warrant an ejection, so you have to focus on being fundamentally sound.''

Borland is well aware of the increased sensitivity to head injuries, concussions.

"Our athletic training staff does a great job with it,'' he said. "We appreciate them taking care of the players and caring about safety. Obviously it's an issue (nationally) with some of the things that have been going on with former NFL players (i.e. lawsuits).

"That said, it's a risk that you take on when you play football. It's up to you to be responsible if you sustain a concussion to take yourself out of the game or let someone know. The issues arise when guys try to tough it out.

"You can't play around with your brain.''

You can't play tentative or hold back on defense, either. "You've heard all of your life as an athlete, if you're trying not to get hurt, you're likely to get hurt,'' Borland said. "You have to play hard. And if you play sound, you should avoid most injuries.''

Sporting a shiner, the result of a broken nose that he sustained during a 7-0n-7 passing drill Monday night on campus, UW wide receiver Jared Abbrederis pointed out, "You want to make sure you keep the players safe. But it is football and we signed up.''

Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen doesn't want to get anyone hurt nor does he want to "take a game away from a kid if we don't have to.'' He cited the need to educate players on big hit opportunities and called the targeting rules a work in progress.

"It absolutely puts more emphasis on judgment by officials,'' he said. "That's the hard part for me as a coach. Those decisions are going to be made in a bang-bang emotional time. And you just have to hope that they are made right.''

Ball's big day named 'Most Dominating Performance' in Big Ten


- Video: Ball earns 'Most Dominating Performance' award

Montee Ball dominated plenty of defenses in his three seasons as a running back for the Wisconsin football team, but his effort in the Badgers' win at Purdue last season has earned special attention.

The career-high 247 yards and three touchdowns Ball racked up against the Boilermakers earned him the "Most Dominating Performance" award as part of the sixth-annual BTN Awards Show on Wednesday.

Ball's 247 yards were a career high on the ground, and his third touchdown of the day marked the 72nd of his career. That made him the Big Ten's all-time leader in TDs, surpassing Badgers great Ron Dayne's career total of 71 scores. According to NCAA statistics (which did not include bowl games until 2002), Ball became just the third player in FBS history to score 70 or more touchdowns in a career.

The individual effort was part of an overall domination by the Badgers' offense, which gained 645 total yards, the second-highest tally in school history.

Ball finished his Badgers career as the NCAA's all-time leader in touchdowns, with 83, and career record-holder for rushing touchdowns, with 77.