After having a respectable season in 2009, junior defensive end J.J Watt is already expected to do more great things and anchor the Badger defense.
Watt, who has been named a first-team preseason All-Big Ten by Phil Steele, and second-team by Athlon sports, finished second on the team in tackles for loss, pass breakups, and fumble recoveries in 2010.
He finished third in sacks with 4.5, for a total loss of 19 yards.
This kind of impact from a defensive player is just what Wisconsin will need this season, after losing DE O'Brien Schofield and stand-out safety Chris Maragos.
Stepping in for Schofield won't be easy after he was named first-team All-Big Ten and recording 12 sacks and 24.5 tackles for loss, and eventually being drafted by the St.Louis Cardinals.
But that was last year, and now Watt will have to forget about the expectations and just step up.
Watt will have to lead the outside pass rush for the Badgers, since Louis Nzegwu will most likely be the new starter to take over the other defensive end spot.
Nzegwu has already had ample experience at the position after playing in 10 games in 2009, tallying three tackles for losses and 3.5 sacks.
If the Badgers can have strong defensive ends, the defense should have a pretty strong season with safety Jay Valai and linebackers Chris Borland and Mike Taylor farther in the defensive backfield.
The Badgers have many returning starters on offense, so an effective defense may be just what the team needs to stay strong late in the season; which is usually where the Badgers come up short.
If the defense can do that, don't be surprised if Watt comes through on his preseason nominations and has another successful year for the Badgers.
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