Varsity - The Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics

Varsity - September 12, 2013

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A LUCAS AT LARGE BY MIKE LUCAS // UWBADGERS.COM Southward seeks big-play replay in ASU encore 14 ntonio Fenelus and Aaron Henry always insisted that if it wasn't for Dez Southward's hustle play against Arizona State, the entire 2010 season might have had a different ending. "They used to say I was the reason we went to the Rose Bowl," said Southward, "which definitely wasn't true because there were a million other plays that had to be made to get there." Still, he will think about the play sometimes. "That was definitely a memorable moment for me," said Southward, then a redshirt freshman. "What's weird about it is that I didn't make the play. It was the most famous missed tackle I ever had." It was not just any play; it was the final play of the first half, a touchdown-saving ― maybe gamesaving ― play against Arizona State on Sept. 18, 2010 at Camp Randall Stadium. The Sun Devils took a 7-3 first quarter lead on Omar Bolden's 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. The Badgers rallied and pulled ahead, 13-10, on Scott Tolzien's TD pass to Lance Kendricks. With 10 seconds left in the half, Philip Welch kicked off to Kyle Middlebrooks, who broke into the open field and raced down the east sideline ― seemingly destined to take it all the way to the house. Southward and Shelton Johnson never gave up on the play. Southward wasn't able to bring Middlebrooks down at the UW 20, but he slowed him down and Johnson // VARSITY September 12, 2013 ended up tackling him on the 1. It was a big play when it happened and it loomed even bigger near the end of the game when Jay Valai blocked an extra point with 4:09 remaining to preserve a 20-19 win over Arizona State. "It was something I was able to build on ― small wins," said Southward, now a fifth-year senior from Sunrise, Fla. "Now I'm starting to do bigger and bigger things and hopefully I will keep building. "If I can characterize our team with one play, it would be that one. We won't quit no matter the score; we're going to keep fighting and always play with a ton of hustle, and we do it for each other." That would appear to capture the spirit of the 2013 Wisconsin defense that has blanked its first two opponents. Not that anyone would mistake UMass for The U, or Tennessee Tech for Virginia Tech. "It was a starting point," Southward said. For one thing, it allowed the new coaches to get a game day feel for the players, and vice versa. "Every coach is different and each staff is different in the way they handle things," Southward said. The first two games also offered a sneak preview of the 3-4 defense, but only to a small degree. "There are some things we haven't done yet," Southward said. "Everyone in the nation can say that." This is not to imply that the Badgers have been saving something for Arizona State; something to attack quarterback Taylor Kelly. Nor is it to imply they don't have something planned for Kelly. "There are no magic plays," Southward cautioned. "Anytime you have two good teams going against each other, it's not always who's the most talented but who executes the best on Saturday. "There's going to be some adversity ― any time you play a good team there will be. That's just how it works and it's going to come down to fighting through it." Southward has asked himself the same question others are asking. "What does it mean to win some games that you're expected to win?" he said, providing an answer. "You want to go out and show you can play on the biggest stage against the best talent." Southward is pretty sure Arizona State is saying the same thing. So is it fair or foul to characterize this matchup as the Big Ten's muscle versus the Pac-12's speed? "It's fair," Southward said, "because this is the Big Ten and we're going to run the ball. We're good at that and our linemen are some of the biggest in the nation. "But it's a little foul because we have some guys who can run and you'll see it at all positions. It's also foul because they have guys who are tough and strong and big as well; they're not all speed." Like it did in 2010, it might come down to making a play, even a hustle play, when it matters the most. "Whoever executes the best," Southward predicted, "will come out with the W."

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