Henry turns corner at free safety

first_imgOne of the best plays from UW’s blowout win over Austin Peay Saturday is buried on the stat sheet.It goes down as just an ordinary incomplete pass in the books.But Aaron Henry’s bone-jarring hit on Ashlon Adams in the second quarter of Saturday’s game is much more than that. It’s a memorable play that sticks out on a day where the Badgers had highlight after highlight after highlight to choose from.“That play sparked the defense,” senior captain Culmer St. Jean said.It’s also a play that makes one thing very clear about Henry: His days as a cornerback are behind him and he has now officially completed the transition to safety.Switching positions at this level isn’t as simple as making a quick change on the depth chart – it takes time and unfortunately it doesn’t always work.Bret Bielema and the UW coaching staff knew they had something special in Henry when he debuted as a freshman in 2007. It was a major steal in the recruiting process to get Henry out of Florida – his home state – and he excelled as a cornerback from the start.But in 2008 Henry was forced to redshirt due to a knee injury. As a result, the promising corner’s progress was halted.Now, at a position where there’s constant stopping and starting and a need for instant change of direction, knee injuries can limit corners long-term.That’s exactly what happened to Henry. His confidence was shot with the knee injury stuck in the back of his mind and it was clearer he had taken a few steps back. Henry needed a fresh start and thanks to his good size – 6 feet, 204 lbs. – a move to free safety made perfect sense.So after seeing limited action as a nickel back in 2009, Henry entered 2010 as the starting safety alongside senior Jay Valai.He brought his coverage skills as a former corner to the position and we knew he had the raw talent to make a name for himself but Henry needed to find a new level of physicality and recapture his confident mindset to succeed.Last week against Arizona State, Henry delivered a blow in the endzone that turned heads. Saturday against Austin Peay his hit sent shockwaves through the stadium.Adams came free across the middle, Henry lowered his shoulder, and in an instant the APSU tight end was sprawled out on the turf with UW’s junior safety standing over him. Incomplete.Ladies and gentlemen, that is how you play safety.“It put the patent on my safety position, especially making that transition from cornerback,” Henry said of the hit after the game. “Everybody wants that killer shot.”Physicality and confidence were the two things Henry needed to develop and they were in full force on that defining play.“Pretty much my whole life I was always not known as a great tackler or the guy who’s going to knock somebody out,” Henry said. “But hopefully I can change people’s opinion of me.”Well Aaron you’ve changed this columnist’s opinion.Say what you want about the Austin Peay governors and the fact that they were severely overmatched (big time programs playing FCS opponents is commonplace in college football whether you like it or not) but for those that diminish the hit due to that lackluster opponent, think again. Adams is a 6-foot-4″, 225 lb. tight end – no undersized slouch coming across the middle (thanks Revis), and to de-cleat an opposing receiver with that kind of size, no matter his route-running or catching ability, entails a high degree of difficulty.It’s hard to teach a player to execute a play like that in a game situation and Saturday showed us that Henry has the natural instincts necessary to keep those hits coming.Now, Henry needs more than one devastating hit to establish himself as an impact safety but consider this:Through four games the Badgers have been lined up correctly on just about every down so far this season – that’s thanks to Henry who has replaced Chris Maragos as the signal caller from the back end (if you think that job’s a given, just ask the Badgers of ’08 who lost to Ohio State on a late touchdown when the defense had no idea where to line up).Arizona State, UW’s toughest opponent thus far, who hung right with the 4th ranked Oregon Ducks, had no completion longer than 18 yards at Camp Randall. That’s also thanks to Henry who serves as the Badgers’ last line of defense and the man tasked with limiting big plays.And the Badgers’ lone defensive touchdown of the year? You guessed it, Aaron Henry is once again the man to thank as the free safety scooped up a fumble and found the endzone to blow the UNLV game open.You see, Henry isn’t worrying about his once-injured knee, he’s no longer unsure of himself and his abilities at his new position.In 2010, he’s playing fast and he’s making plays.With one playmaker out for the year in linebacker Chris Borland, UW needs the remaining pieces of its defense to raise their games in his absence.Fortunately, it looks like there is a budding star at free safety.Max is a senior majoring in journalism. How pumped were you after Henry’s huge hit Saturday? Let him know at mhenson@badgerherald.com.last_img read more

McClimon Soccer Complex kind to UW once again in win over Drake

first_imgHome field advantage is important in every sport. In soccer it is an incredibly important factor. Just ask head coach John Trask and his Wisconsin Men’s Soccer team that has dominated its opponents in Madison the last few years.To find the last time Wisconsin lost at home you have to go back nearly a year to Oct. 10, 2012 when the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee beat the Badgers 1-0.After starting off the year 3-0 at home, the Badgers notched their fourth home win of the season Tuesday against the Drake Bulldogs. The 3-2 victory not only leaves them undefeated at home, but provided them with crucial momentum as they reach the half-way point in their four game home stand.The Badgers started out strong taking a 2-0 lead, but after a late Drake goal brought the lead within one point the game tensed up. A penalty kick after a hand ball once again extended the Badgers lead to two at 3-1. However, the Bulldogs were not done. They notched one more bringing them within striking distance off of a set play with just five minutes to play. Despite some good chances, the Badgers rallied to hold them off and claim a win.“Were 4-0 [at home] this year,” Trask said. “You really want to make your home field a bastion, and I felt it was tonight.”Luckily for Wisconsin, at home they are no stranger to nail biters, and  in each of those close home games, the Badgers always seem to come out on top. On Sept. 8, the Badgers were able to rally with a last-second goal from redshirt senior midfielder Tomislav Zadro to take DePaul into overtime where they later won.The Badgers credit a lot of those events to playing on their home turf, in front of their home fans.“Home field advantage in every sport is worth something,” Trask said. “I know our guys love to play here in front of their friends and family, and the other students. Our field is absolutely gorgeous and I know our guys love to play here in this stadium.”Wisconsin has developed a reputation for being a hard-driven defensive team that can occasionally capitalize on offensive opportunities. This season at home, however, Trask’s men have been electric offensively. The Badgers are averaging 2.5 goals a game at home. That includes three 3-goal games, a mark that took previous Wisconsin teams five years to achieve.Wisconsin’s only losses this year were both on the road, at the end of a five game road series that had the Badgers traveling between Wisconsin, Florida, Illinois and Pennsylvania.“One of our goals this season was to stay undefeated at home,” junior forward Jacob Brindle said. “That is what we are working for right now. It is always good to defend your turf. That is what we set out to do whenever we play at home.”However, staying undefeated at home is going to be a tall order for the Badgers. With Big Ten games against Indiana, Michigan State and Ohio State still on the schedule at home, it is going to require some impressive performances and a bit of luck to leave the McClimon Complex unscathed.“Coach likes to emphasis this is our place,” senior forward Nick Janus said. “Our opponents are going to have to come here and take it from us. We want to make this our fort and hold it down. So far this season we have been able to do that. We have a pretty big test later this week against Indiana but I feel that we are prepared.”The last time Indiana came to Madison two years ago the Badgers dealt the top ranked Hoosiers their first loss of the season in a 2-0 decision. When Indiana comes into town for its Friday matchup with the Badgers, it will not only be looking for revenge but also its first win in Madison since 2009. However, the Badgers will be relying on their skill home field advantage as they try to extend their home winning streak to five and take their first Big Ten win of the season.last_img read more