Five things to watch on Wisconsin’s defense as spring football starts

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The University of Wisconsin football team’s defense already recorded perhaps its most important stop of the year.

Keeping coordinator Jim Leonhard in Madison — a decision he says was him choosing UW more than turning down the Green Bay Packers’ offer of the same job — means one of the most promising young coaches in football will lead the Badgers’ defense once again.

For the second consecutive year, UW will have eight starters defensive starters returning and that continuity helped the unit rank in the top 10 nationally in key metrics like scoring defense (17.4 points allowed per game, ninth), total defense (299.9 yards allowed per game, fifth), rushing defense (96.1, fifth), third-down percentage allowed (28.7%, fifth) and red-zone scores allowed (72.2, 10th).

Still, when the Badgers open spring practices Tuesday, there are areas in which the defense can take a step forward and begin leading UW to its goal of reclaiming the top spot in the Big Ten Conference’s West Division.

Here are five defensive storylines to watch this spring: