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Today's game will go a long way in determining if the Boilers are here to stay. The Wisconsin team is much tougher than their #22 ranking suggest - they have been allowing only 251 yards of TOTAL defense so far this year. Just a typical Badger team - Alvarez has them in good hands now.
Below are some excerpts from the 10-year Boilermaker boss' weekly teleconference on the 19th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers.
Q: Wisconsin's defensive coaches think they match up better against spread teams now because of their speed at linebacker and their improved secondary. Have you seen a lot of changes now under Badger defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz?
Tiller: "I would agree. All their linebackers, but particularly their outside linebackers are faster guys than what we've seen Wisconsin playing on the field. And their secondary likewise. Although I don't know because we've seen some pretty good corners playing for the Badgers over the years.
"(Defensive lineman Matthew) Shaughnessy is a guy that we tried to recruit hard here and didn't get. We liked him because of his athleticism and foot speed. Here he is playing early in his career (he's a sophomore) and doing a great job. He kind of embellishes their defensive approach to the game.
"They're a much, much quicker and faster defense than they were three years ago, for instance."
Q: When you look at Wisconsin is it another typical Badger offense with a clone of Ron Dayne at running back?
Tiller: "Well, it's a typical Badger offense in the sense that it's the biggest line in captivity … certainly the tallest. I don't think there's any line in the NFL that goes 6-foot-7, 6-8, 6-6, 6-6, 6-6. We'll go against lines that weigh 300 pounds, and have, and our own line has a couple of guys that fit in that category and on our line everybody is three bills or bigger, but we're not 6-8 and 6-7. Our guard (Jordan) Grimes is 6-2 versus 6-6 (at Wisconsin).
"The reason I bring that up is because that type of a player in the front tends to engulf the defensive people that they are blocking. You can't see up over the top of them whereas a shorter lineman, you can see over the top of his shoulder pad or its easier to see around him and locate the ball and locate it quicker. This front certainly presents a huge challenge because of the height advantage they have over everyone they play.
"I think their tailback, Hill, is similar to Dayne, and yet he's different. He's a physical back and he's a patient back like Ron Dayne was. He's not quite as big as Dayne was, but from a leg strength point of view he may be more explosive than Dayne was. He's a guy you can not bring down with an arm tackle. He's been a huge, huge addition to their offense. But I always come back to the guys behind center and John Stocco is another one of those senior quarterbacks in this league this year. He's the difference because watching them on tape teams have loaded up to stop the run and he's had three or four touchdown passes in a game this year. He has the ability to throw the football with great accuracy and he has tremendous moxie.
"You're seeing a team that is functioning extremely well offensively and there are many pieces of the puzzle that are in place, but the most critical one is behind the center. And he's performing at a peak level."
Q: How would Wisconsin's offensive line compare to Iowa's? Will it be critical for your defensive front seven to get off of blocks?
Tiller: "They're very, very similar. Hopefully we'll do a better job at it (getting off of blocks) this time around than we did a couple of week ago."
Q: What have you seen from Stocco the last couple of years?
Tiller: "He's become more accurate as a passer. I think early in his career he was a guy who would misfire on a wide-open guy. Now, he's putting the ball on the guy. I think the game has slowed down for him. He's playing with great confidence and has complete command of their offense. He's playing like a senior should play.
"There isn't any part of his game that has not improved over the years."