What Excites Josh Metellus About Playing Wisconsin

josh metellus michigan safety

What Excites Josh Metellus About Playing Wisconsin

Football

What Excites Josh Metellus About Playing Wisconsin

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — We won’t know for certain until the end of the season whether or not this Wisconsin game is Michigan’s stiffest yet, but one thing is for certain — considering that the Wolverines lost to the Badgers a year ago, and this Wisconsin team is on pace to challenge, once again, for the Big Ten West, it’s one of the biggest games of the season regardless.

Michigan has a one in the loss column so far this year, having lost the season opener to Notre Dame, a team that’s currently ranked No. 5 in the country. But after rattling off five straight wins in the aftermath, considering the way the Wolverines have played, it feels like a different season, in many ways.

And that’s because, in some ways, it is.

Now the maize and blue are getting into the heart of its Big Ten schedule. Its previous non-conference opponents outside of the Irish were considered of the weaker variety. The three Big Ten teams Michigan has faced thus far? About the same, though Maryland — who the Wolverines just beat 42-21 — did take down No. 9 Texas to open the season — the Longhorns’ sole loss of the season.

But with Wisconsin coming to town, it’s different. Third-year safety Josh Metellus can tell you why it’s different and he can do so quite succinctly: it’s the Big Ten.

And Wisconsin embodies just about every stereotype of what a Big Ten team is and what it wants to be. That is, big bodied linemen, tough, hard-nosed trench play, with a dynamic running game and anemic passing game.

But, that’s also what Michigan is trying to be as well. Considering the similarities, the style of play and such, Metellus is excited to face something of a mirror image in the Badgers, saying this is the type of game he looks forward to most.

“We play in the Big Ten – most teams in the Big Ten like running the ball, primarily,” Metellus said. “It’s just a good thing to get back to our roots. Counter run, kind of that pro-style offense. Our offense: counter, pro-style, so we’re used to seeing a fullback, 21 personnel (2 running backs, 1 tight end), so it’s just good to go back to that run style, pro-style offense.”

Wisconsin isn’t exactly known for passing the ball, and Metellus’ primary job is to limit those types of plays should the ball go up into the air.

Ranked 102nd in the nation, the Badgers’ passing offense won’t try to do too much, but junior QB Alex Hornibrook can make plays — as Michigan fans saw a year ago in Madison.

Junior receiver A.J. Taylor is the primary threat, while freshman tight end  Jake Ferguson is the other, as the two have combined for 34 receptions for 567 yards and 4 touchdowns.

But, while those might be the primary culprits, Metellus knows to not get bored in the defensive backfield, given the Badgers’ danger-man: sophomore running back Jonathan Taylor.

That Taylor is another story entirely, having racked up 849 yards on 126 carries — in just five games.

So Metellus is on high alert for whatever Wisconsin plans to throw at Michigan’s defense on Saturday night, because there are a few things the Badgers can do well offensively.

“Just the way they play – they go with what works,” Metellus said. “They get a lot of inside routes. It’s just stuff like running the ball – they keep pounding the ball, pounding the ball, trying to wear teams out, so that way they’ve got their big backs – the O-line opens up the holes and the big backs just run through.”

But, it’s not in Metellus’ mind that Michigan has to beat Wisconsin. Actually — it’s vice versa.

In the renewal of the series between the two Big Ten programs — after their short hiatus — Michigan and Wisconsin are 1-1, with each team taking the home victory. Regardless of how good — or not — Wisconsin may be, Metellus says that the onus is on the Badgers to beat Michigan.

Because if the Wolverines do their job, they feel they can’t be beat.

“First of all, it’s our house – it’s not, ‘Alright we’re going out there and we have to make sure we beat Wisconsin,’” Metellus said. “We’re focused on ourselves first. We’re focused on Michigan first. We do what we have to do, everybody does their job, now they’ve got to be our job. Now they’ve got beat us one-on-one, now they’ve got to beat us man-on-man. They’ve gotta beat us. It’s not ‘we’ve got to go out there and beat them.’ We do what we do and they gotta beat that.”

Likewise, despite the challenges of facing Jonathan Taylor — the nation’s leading yards-per-game rusher — Metellus says his Wolverines are intent on stopping the run.

If the Badgers want to beat the Wolverines, and they plan on doing it in the way they want to most — by running the ball — think again, Metellus says.

“As a defense, that’s something we pride ourselves on,” Metellus said. “You can’t run the ball – you’ve got to beat us passing. And once we get them to third down, that’s where we want to live at – defense limit as many third downs as possible. We just make sure a team can’t run the ball. Get them to third and long and let our ends and D-tackles do the work.”

And that’s pretty much how the Badgers took the lead for good a year ago. Hornibrook made a solid pass up the middle, splitting two Michigan defenders in the end zone for a touchdown in the third quarter. Wisconsin never looked back after that.

Metellus remembers that feeling and is intent, still, to make Hornibrook pass against his defense.

“We went into the game being like, ‘Alright, they’re more of a run team, not a passing team,’” Metellus said. “But he made all the throws to beat us last year. Going into the game this year, just play how we play – don’t expect anything, don’t expect to just run the ball. Don’t expect them to just get under center. Expect them to play – don’t expect too much, don’t expect too less.”

But should the challenge of Jonathan Taylor reach him and his defensive backfield, Metellus is ready to step up.

Of course, it will be the defensive line and linebackers’ job primarily, but Taylor’s patience and vision means that he very well could end up in the third-level.

Should that happen, Metellus says he and his teammates are prepared.

“Just get him to the ground,” Metellus said. “Save us, make us play another play, help the defense get out there and try to make a stop.

“He has good vision and patience. He waits for the hole, he doesn’t try to force it in there. He waits for the creases so he can hit them full-speed.”

The Wolverines and Badgers will kick off on Saturday night at 7:30PM from The Big House.

Contact/Follow @WolverinesWire@isaiahhole

Latest

More WolverinesWire
Home