Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Matt Chandik's Wisconsin Player to Watch

Wisconsin had a great year last season, winning what was a third of the Big 10 title and then became a half, beating Ohio State and clinching a berth in the Rose Bowl before falling to TCU. A big part of that was a strong defense led by All-America and Houston Texans first-round pick J.J. Watt. With Watt off to pursue NFL quarterbacks with a hefty chunk of change in his bank account, the Badgers will need someone to step up on the defensive line.

Enter Jordan Kohout. The 6-3, 285-pound defensive tackle played quite a bit as a redshirt freshman and racked up 22 tackles, 1.5 for loss and a sack. He’ll be asked to expand on his role as Bret Bielema searches for talent on the defensive line. He’ll be tasked with freeing things up for linebackers like Chris Borland and Mike Taylor.

Wisconsin rotates its defensive linemen quite a bit and Kohout is a defensive tackle, so I don’t expect him to put up eye-popping stats. With that being said, it’s hard to envision a scenario where he doesn’t have an impact for the Badgers’ defensive line. The UW defense is experienced, even with the loss of standouts like Watt, safety Jay Valai and linebackers Blake Sorensen and Culmer St. Jean, and that should help Kohout out immensely. He should be able to make an impact without having to worry about the pressure of being the lone standout on a poor defense. Instead, he gets to be a part of a strong defense that, coupled with UW’s potent running game and the addition of Russell Wilson, should have the Badgers contending for the Big 10 title yet again.

Ultimately, I’ll say Kohout ends up with 40 tackles, five of them for loss, 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble. He’s probably a year away from being an elite player in the Big 10, but he should be a consistent force this year.

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