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November 20, 2010ANN ARBOR - Wisconsin sophomore defensive end David Gilbert knows a thing or two about Denard Robinson.
"We went to school not too far from each other," Gilbert said. "I know what he's capable of. We're putting extra emphasis on that of course. He's just so fast.
"He's so fast."
Through 10 games, Robinson leads all Big Ten rushers with 1,417 yards on 205 attempts. That's more than 400 yards than the second best rusher in the league can tout.
And that's the type of challenge he'll present to the Badgers, who are in a must win situation if they hope to continue their march towards the Roses.
"He can run unbelievably," senior middle linebacker Culmer St. Jean said. "He can pass unbelievably. He almost has 1,500 yards in both. That's definitely a triple threat."
But in all actuality, it seems as though the Badgers would be best suited for success if Robinson were forced to throw. Though the sophomore athlete has nearly 2,000 yards passing, he also has nine interceptions and a proven propensity to force throws at given times throughout a game.
That's an area the Badgers, who have forced seven turnovers in the past two weeks, hope to exploit.
"I've seen that on film," St. Jean said. "He's been throwing a couple of interceptions in tight coverage or if somebody slides or shifts in the secondary. If he's under pressure he might make a few mistakes. I've seen that.
"Hopefully we can do the same thing and rattle him a little bit."
It's not as if the Badgers haven't played, and succeeded, against mobile quarterbacks this year. The Badgers contained Terrelle Pryor a few weeks ago and they performed well against duel threat quarterbacks in Adam Weber and Sean Robinson.
But though that prior success is a solid building block, it's fair to say UW will face an animal of a different nature today.
"I don't think we've seen anybody like him," senior linebacker Blake Sorensen said. "He's faster than Terrelle Pryor and he's quicker. He's explosive. I think this is going to be a big challenge for us."
In practice this week, freshman running back Jeff Lewis has been emulating Robinson. According to St. Jean, Lewis has done a nice job prepping the defense for the Big Ten's leading rusher.
"He's a fast guy and he's big," St. Jean said. "He likes to be physical. That definitely helps. But he doesn't have the throwing abilities like Robinson so that's one dimension that he can't do.
"We're going to have to do it on the run on Saturday."
In order to have success against such a dynamic threat like Robinson the Badgers will need to maintain contain and leverage, stay disciplined within the gaps and force a couple of turnovers.
Really, should the Badgers be able get a few defensive stops it would put the Badger offense in good shape to establish its game plan and open a margin of separation.
"It's important to give our offense the ball as many times as possible," Sorensen said. "We've got a great offense so we've just got to try and get off the field on defense.
"It's easier said than done."