Wisconsin linebacker Jack Sanborn knows when the defensive line is playing well. It doesn’t need to be as obvious as linemen making a tackle in the backfield, either. Sanborn knows the defensive line is doing its job in Wisconsin’s scheme when he’s not being blocked and can make plays without interference from the offensive line.

“You can just tell by if that line is moving, if they’re getting into your lap a little bit,” Sanborn said on Nov. 17. “And (I) haven’t really seen much of that so far this year…From what I’ve seen so far the D-line has been dominating the run game and it’s not a bad thing at all.”

In Wisconsin’s 3-4 defense, a key objective for the Badgers defensive linemen is to occupy offensive linemen and allow for linebackers to run wild behind them. But after returning nine of 11 starters from 2019, defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard has challenged his defense to do more than normal assignments. The defensive line has been a big piece of that challenge as the Badgers front three have been heavily involved in Wisconsin’s which defense ranks first in the nation with 229.2 yards allowed per game. If the No. 25 Badgers (2-2) were to keep that number through the end of the season, it’d be the program’s lowest yards allowed per game average since 1951.

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