Badgers "Thankful" for DC Jim Leonhard - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Badgers "Thankful" for DC Jim Leonhard

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MADISON (WKOW) -

The No.5 Wisconsin Badgers have a lot to be thankful for this year.

Just to name a few...

- Thankful to be 11-0.

- Thankful to be heading to the Big Ten Championship once again. 

- Thankful for defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard. 

Despite having three different DCs in three years, Leonhard has made sure his unit hasn't missed a beat. 

"I just think he has that mentality of - even though he's the one calling the plays - he's doing it for us," said senior linebacker Garrett Dooley.  "He knows that he doesn't have to get too fancy with stuff because he knows that we can go out there and execute.  That's just something where he has that trust factor in us and we have the trust in him."

A lot of that trust has to do with Leonhard's background.  The former Badger played for ten years in the NFL.  He joined Paul Chryst's almost two years ago as the defensive backs coach.  He was promoted to defensive coordinator in the offeseason.

"The type of knowledge that he brings from coaches is just different because he's been through it all," said junior linebacker T.J. Edwards.  "He's been in our shoes and he knows how we're feeling.  He knows how we would see things and stuff like that.  To have him on the sideline with us is huge."

It's all paid off.  So far this season Wisconsin leads the nation in rush defense.  They're second only to Alabama in total defense, and points allowed per game.  In addition, the Badgers have only allowed five touchdowns in their last six games.  The defense has only allowed 12 touchdowns over 11 games this year.

"When adversity happens, [Leonhard has] that sense of calmness," said Edwards.  "[Leonhard says] ,'We'll get our corrections, we got to keep moving.  [We got to] put it behind us. Otherwise, worse things are going to happen.'"

Leonhard remembers battling adversity against the Gophers. He was a part of the last Wisconsin team to give up Paul Bunyan's axe to Minnesota, back in 2003.

"You watch [Minnesota] rush across the field and come take it," said Jim Leonhard.  "That's a feeling you don't want to have. [This year's Gophers] would love to ruin our season - run across and take that axe and get into a bowl game.  So I don't think it should be hard for our guys to have that mentality."
 

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