Musings from Maragos

Chris Maragos (Fleming)

One of the best times former Wisconsin safety Chris Maragos experienced at Wisconsin was wrapping up the nonconference schedule and start preparing for Big Ten play. No.7 Wisconsin gets to experience that fun this week. In his weekly segment with Badger Nation, Maragos talks about the nonconference season and the matchup with Nebraska.

MADISON - After two weeks of waiting in limbo, Chris Maragos has found a new NFL home, and it doesn't have to go far.

After being cut from the San Francisco 49ers and not signed to their practice squad, Maragos spent two weeks waiting for an opportunity that finally came after a successful workout with the Seattle Seahawks, getting signed to the team's practice squad.

In the meantime, Maragos got a great opportunity to spent time with the in-laws in Michigan and see his old friends at Soldier Field in Chicago.

In our weekly feature, Maragos talks about his impressions from the nonconference season and previewing the Cornhuskers.

BN: Offensively, Wisconsin has put up 600 yards in back-to-back weeks and since you got to see them for the first time, what are your impressions that stood out from having seen them live for the first time in person, both offensively and defensively?

Maragos: The first thing that jumps up on the offense is there are obviously so balanced. They have a great offensive line, they can run the ball, they can throw the ball with play action and they can spread the ball around. They can pick and chose whatever they want and can give the ball to whoever is hot. You have seen Nick Toon emerge, Jared Abbrederis, the tight ends and the running backs all emerge, so there is firepower everywhere on the offensive side of the ball.

Defensively, I see a lot of guys play hard and willing to play hard for each other in a pretty close knit group. It's fun to watch those guys play. Giving up what they have given up this year is very impressive from a playing standpoint up until this point. Really what they've been able to accomplish this year has been really fun to watch.

BN: When you watch them, who has made the most strides from week one to week two on both sides of the ball, especially after seeing them in person?

Maragos: On offense, obviously guys get a lot of attention like Jacob Pedersen. From where he was when I first came in to what he is doing now … when you watch him play, he looks so comfortable and looks so under control and confident with where he needs to be and what he needs to do. The way he catches the ball and the way his body language is, you can really see him settle into that role, and it's really fun to watch that happen.

Defensively, Shelton Johnson from where he was when he came in, being a young guy trying to figure it all out. He's a guy that knew he can run real well and wasn't afraid to hit you. To see him put everything together now and just make the strides he has and become a key component on the team has been very fun to watch.

BN: The safeties on Wisconsin's roster haven't made a lot of big plays other than Johnson's interception in the first quarter last week, but they haven't done a lot of things that would go under the negative category either. When you watch them, how is your assessment to how they have played through four games?

Maragos: I think they have done a pretty good job. A lot of times, you expect the safeties to be these ball hawks but in a lot of games, there aren't a lot of opportunities based on the calls and coverages you are running vs. different routes. The quarterback puts some throws in certain situations that you can make some plays on, but not many. My philosophy on the safeties is that teams aren't scoring points and racing up huge yardages, there is really nothing to be worried about. They are in a quarantine mode, waiting for those plays to come your way and getting ready to make those. It's a good thing to not be hearing a lot from your safeties if your defense isn't struggling.

BN: Game one against UNLV to game four against South Dakota, what position has made the positive strides and why?

Maragos: I would say cornerback, just because of the strides that good has made, answering the question from that aspect. Antonio Fenelus continues to rake steps and be a dominant corner. Devin Smith was playing well, had the injury and then Marcus Cromartie stepped up. To see the steps those guys are making to really be shut down guys has really been beneficial and has helped the defense tremendously.

BN: What's the biggest question mark you have on this team on any side of the ball?

Maragos: My biggest concern is are they taking care of the little details? Going into Big Ten play now and having been able to roll through everybody by out muscling and out talent everybody. Now comes the details and the grit of conference play that a team needs to dig down for. It'll be fun to watch and see these guys really evolve from that standpoint.

BN: In your experience, how much does the excitement and the fun of the preparation increase when you are preparing for a conference team compared to a nonconference one?

Maragos: It's a different deal. It's a different mindset. I think the guys this week are going to be locked in, not that they haven't been before. They really understand what it's going to take with a team like Nebraska coming into town. They are going to do everything they can to game plan to making it happen where they can have success on Saturday.

BN: When you watch Nebraska, what are some things that impress you and what are some things Wisconsin could take advantage of?

Maragos: The most impressive thing about Nebraska is its defensive line. They do a good job and it will be very fun to watch our offensive goes against their defensive line. I think their offense is a little bit of disarray. Their quarterback makes some decisions that don't seem to be the best. He does have some talent and he can run the ball. What Wisconsin can do is really have an advantage with our offense against their defense and with our defensive against their running game. Both units have been playing at a really high level so far.

BN: As a former college defensive back, how impressive is what Russell Wilson is doing for Wisconsin's offense, especially with his accuracy through the last four games?

Maragos: He's obviously very impressive as athlete and what makes him so special is that you don't find guys like him. He doesn't just have athleticism, but combine that with all the intangibles of great leadership, great mind, great head on his shoulders and really knowing what it takes to win, that's why this team has been so dominant up to this point. To watch him grow into the system has been really great to watch. Watching the offense with him at the helm, everything is just so calm and under control. He's in complete control of everybody and understands where he wants to go with the ball before it's snapped and he executes. He's putting guys in position to have success.

BN: What's the biggest key to a victory for Wisconsin in this game?

Maragos: I think the thing they need to do is out physical them. That's Nebraska's game and that's what they are about. If they can out physical them and really hit them in the mouth, they'll have a lot of success if they do that.

BN: How many times your senior year was Wisconsin not the physical team?

Maragos: Oh … I can't remember. I can't remember any, especially from both an offensive or defensive standpoint. Maybe the Iowa game we lost. That might have been one, but I can't think of any other than that.

BN: You, like a lot of other people, are a perfect 4-0 with your predictions this year. Wisconsin rarely loses night games at home, so I am thinking you are picking the home team?

Maragos: Definitely Wisconsin with the win. Nebraska's defense is good, but our offense is that much better. I think we are really going to do some things to exploit them. I really am not impressed with Nebraska's offense, and I think that will be a little bit more of a better matchup. I definitely think Wisconsin has the advantage and are going to 31-18, just like the Ohio State game last year.

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