MADISON, Wis. - After the University of Wisconsin football team's upset victory over Auburn, 24-10, in the Capital One Bowl last season, the coaches applauded the defense for putting together their best effort of the season.
During that game, Jonathan Casillas and Deandre Levy, then true freshmen, took advantage of their time on the field in a scenario that has become a possible preview of the 2006 season.
Casillas had two tackles, including a half tackle for loss, in the Capital One Bowl while Levy finished the game with one tackle.
Through six practices this spring, Casillas (at will) and Levy (at sam) have played on opposite sides of senior middle linebacker Mark Zalewski on the Badgers' first-team defense and are expected to hold down those duties heading into fall camp.
Now sophomores, Casillas, who is listed at 6-foot-2 and 208 pounds, and Levy (6-3, 220) are a year older in the Badgers' system. But the duo is still in the learning process, especially with their former linebackers coach Bret Bielema now the head coach and Dave Doeren the new LB coach and assisting new defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz in forming the Badges' scheme for the upcoming season.
Last week, BadgerBlitz.com caught up Casillas, who is considered the most athletic of the linebackers, to talk about his experience in spring practice thus far and what he expects of himself this fall.
How is the spring going so far?
Casillas: "It's great. We got a whole good bunch of guys out there. Our defense is fast. And I feel very confident in what I'm doing. I think I'm learning at a good pace, you know, the defense they are putting in. It just feels good to be out there. It feels good to hit and to compete."
What's it been like having a new linebackers coach in Dave Doeren?
"Coach B., he's a great guy. I think he brought in a bunch of great coordinators and coaches, position coaches. And I think Coach Doeren is a little bit more stern that (Bielema) is. I think that's because everything is kind of new to us and we're just learning stuff right now. And I like the coaches. I like all of them. I like Coach B. as the head coach. I think he's a cool guy. And I think Coach Doeren is a great guy. Coach Hankwitz is a good guy. And they all know there stuff so that's a benefit."
What is your goal heading out of the spring and into the fall?
Casillas: "I mean basically to make plays. If I don't start or if I get my limited reps, every time I'm in just trying to make the play. If I'm not making a tackle at least try to force a tackle or force a play or get off my block or make sure the other person is the hole they are supposed to be in. So it's just basically to make plays and make everyone better that's around me."
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