September 24, 2010

Rouse set to step up play in light of injuries

MADISON - Kevin Rouse has seen his playing time increase early in this season. Obviously, it's never a good thing to have playing time established because one of his teammates has gone down with an injury, but that's part of the game.

With Chris Borland set to miss the remainder of the season with a recurring shoulder issue, Rouse is one of a handful of players that is going to need to step up for the position to function at its highest level.

Following a recent practice, caught up with the junior linebacker. The following is a question and answer with Rouse.

Obviously you never want to see a guy like Chris go down, but with that comes opportunity for guys like yourself or some other guys. It's just next man in, isn't it?

Rouse: Yeah definitely. That's how we all see it and we know Chris or no Chris we've got to step up and we've got to play. The ultimate goal is to win and that's what Chris wants too. That's what we all want so it doesn't matter who it is, we've just got to be in there and be ready to step up.

Are you playing at a level you're happy with?

Rouse: I feel like you can never be satisfied. I want to keep getting better everyday. Once you're satisfied and once you're complacent that's when you don't improve. I feel everybody feels the same way.

From your perspective, and from your point of view, has the defense played at a level that you'd (label) satisfactory, great, below average…what would you say it is?

Rouse: We've definitely got things to work on just like every year. Every week we've just got to improve on our weaknesses and every week we've got to pick something out and fix it. That's on an individual level and a team level. If we keep doing that we'll be alright.

Say you do something in week one and then week two you try to correct that only to slack on something else. Is there any concern that you're trying to overcorrect too much?

Rouse: Not necessarily. That's just a matter of focus. That's remembering what you did the first week wrong and correcting it and moving on and correcting new things. All it is is just pure focus, 100 percent. You've got to be on everyday in practice.

Maybe for some of the people that haven't seen you play as much, what do you bring to the table?

Rouse: I feel like speed is something I bring to the table. I'm trying to be more versatile and I just want to help the team win. That's the ultimate goal.

That's a pretty modest answer.

Rouse: Yeah (laughing).

How's Mike Taylor looked from your perspective now that he's back in the lineup.

Rouse: He looks good. I don't know if I would be able to come back from something like that, that fast. That was a pretty devastating injury. It's admirable. He's done a great job and it's impressive that he can go in there and play at the level he's playing at. He's going to keep improving and getting better. He's only going to go up.

I know you're not Mike Taylor, but when you look at his point of view and he sees the depth that you guys have with yourself, a guy like A.J. Fenton and you guys just being generally deep at the position. Do you think that maybe pushes him back a little quicker?

Rouse: I would think so. If it was me all you'd want to do is be out there with your teammates and like I said, help the team win. I'm sure that was a motivating factor for him.

Do they have you in the Badger package now?

Rouse: I am, yeah.

Are you kind of in Chris's role?

Rouse: Actually I'm not in Chris's role right now. I'm playing at the will (weak side) linebacker, kind of like our boundary linebacker in our base.

Do they send you on blitzes a lot? I know you've been getting into the backfield quite a bit.

Rouse: So far, yeah. We've got a nice package and we change every week what we do. It's just a matter of being on and focused each week.

Is that what you live for as a linebacker? A chance to hear your number called and get a go right after the quarterback.

Rouse: I'll tell you what, it's a long time coming. It's cool when it happens. But you want to win, I've said it before and that's the goal. Individual stuff is cool like getting a sack once in a while but anything that help.

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