September 18, 2008

Goins continues to grow at corner

MADISON, Wis. - Mario Goins has never played in the Big House. He has no idea how the 100,000 plus maize and blue clad fans attempt to get into the minds of opposing teams coming in.

He does not know what makes it so difficult for the Badgers to go into Ann Arbor hoping to win and never seemingly returning to Madison satisfied. He is still a redshirt freshman and has only one true road test under his belt.

"I couldn't tell you how Michigan is, how that stadium is" he said following Wednesday night's practice. "But Fresno State was an adventure and it was exciting. It got us hyped so going to Michigan, if it's the same thing, it's just the same thing."

Three games into his still young career, Goins is still adjusting to life as a cornerback at the division one level. Following the departure of former badger Jack Ikegwuonu last spring and the injury to Allen Langford, Goins was thrust into the role of starting cornerback during spring practice, a role that has followed him into the season.

"This season isn't going as well as I expected it to," he said. "But at the same time, I wasn't expecting to be perfect. I'm starting off a little slower than what everybody else was expecting too, but I'm catching on every game, every practice. I'm getting better and eventually I'll be here."

Starting games, albeit against bottom feeders Akron and Marshall, is tough enough for any freshman. Playing at a position where you can easily be exposed, such as corner, makes it even more difficult. Team's do notice young corners and therefore throw at them more because they lack experience.

Against Marshall, Goins was beaten by Thundering Herd wide receiver Darius Passmore for a 36 yard gain down to the Badger one yard line. Three plays later, Marshall would punch it into the end zone for an early 7-0 lead.

"It's exactly what they do," Goins said. "They even tell us when we're out there, the receivers, they talk to us.

"They say, 'We're coming at you all day.' They talk to us and let us know that. (The) coaches remind us that everyday too in practice."

Last weekend, at Fresno State, the Badger defense played well. In total, UW gave up 343 yards of offense. However, 165 of them came on only three plays, none involving Goins as the main defender. His first true test of the 2008 season went rather well and he sits tied for third on the team with 11 tackles.

"It's more feeling comfortable out there than anything," he said. "I know the playbook, I know all the calls, it's just more of over thinking or under thinking and staying focused each play.

"If you notice playmakers, their confidence is amazing and making plays. That's one thing, that I have (to help) my confidence get up. I'm working hard to get that big play."

When Goins finally steps onto the natural grass at Michigan Stadium, you can believe himself and his developing confidence will be ready.

"I know it will be cause it has to be to hold my position down and help the team out," he said.

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