Sunday Morning Hangover: Armstrong’s Emergence Is Huge

I'm guessing everyone is talking this morning about how awesome that fourth quarter was to watch. I mean we saw the return of what we're used to seeing from Montee Ball, the offensive line finally showed up, and of course we saw what's becoming common place - a long TD from Joel Stave to Jared Abbrederis.

All of that is amazing and hopefully a positive sign of things to come, but after rewatching the game I came away most impressed with how good our linebacking Corp is as a unit. 

Yes, I know Borland overran and looked completely stupid on the Scheelhaase TD run, but that's just one play out of 64 and totally not an indication of how this unit played as a whole.

Just check out the tackling numbers from this group: Mike Taylor had 12, Chris Borland 11, and Ethan Armstrong had 10. 

As good as Taylor and Borland have been, it's truly been the emergence of Ethan Armstrong that's made this group as scary as any in the Big Ten and the biggest reason for this defense being effective at all.

Armstrong has 41 tackles for the season already, ranking just behind his linebacking Corp teammates Chris Borland (53) and Mike Taylor (63). He's averaging 6.8 tackles a game and with the play of his LB counterparts that's way more than adequate.

What's been even more impressive than that tackle numbers is the fact that Armstrong has 4 pass break up's and 4 passes defensed. 

All of those numbers equate to opposing teams not being able to key on one side of the field or the other against the Badgers defense.

His play also means more freedom for middle linebacker Chris Borland who's been a blitzing machine. Armstrong has proven his worth and it will be interesting to see how he grows even more from here. Let's remember he's only started 8 games out of 31 appearances he's made in his career.

Having Armstrong find his own way has really helped Wisconsin turn into a pretty solid defensive unit. Just consider this stat from UW - the Badgers have given up only 42 yards to opponents on their opening drives ALL SEASON, and 15 of them came on a penalty by the Badgers. 

As good as this linebacking unit has been with the emergence of Armstrong it's even more intriguing to think of where this unit could be next season with Armstrong, Borland and most likely Derek Landish. Wisconsin will even have a huge prospect in Vince Biegel getting significant playing time as well. 

Thanks to Armstrong this defense is able to do so much more and things are only going to get better with more experience for him. For Badger fans and teammates that's a very good thing, for opposing offenses that's got to be a scary proposition.

Andrew Coppens

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He is the Managing Editor of MadTownBadger and associate editor of Bloguin's World Cup site, as well as Publisher of Big Ten site