September 24, 2009

Henry focused on playing at high level

MADISON, Wis. - The road back to health has been well documented for Wisconsin redshirt sophomore Aaron Henry. After tearing his ACL during bowl prep following the 2007 regular season, the cornerback was forced to sit out all of 2008 following a setback early in fall camp of that season.

Now, in 2009, Henry's health has led him back to the field. However, through three games, he is not particularly pleased with the way he has played.

"Not at all," Henry said following Wednesday's practice. "I expect more of myself. It's just, I don't want to say getting back into the feel of things, but just going out there and playing my style of football.

"My style of football is in your face, physical."

Overall, that physicality has been a thorn in the side of the Florida native, at least through three games. In those tilts, he only has six tackles to coincide with zero pass break ups, a pass interference penalty and at least one touchdown given up.

And that is not counting what could have been had Henry not sat out the majority of the Fresno State game with an illness.

Following UW's most recent 44-14 win over Wofford, UW head coach Bret Bielema made a reference to Henry regaining his confidence. On Monday at his press conference, the fourth-year head coach was asked to elaborate on those comments.

"I tore an ACL twice, and I've had seven knee surgeries," Bielema said. "When you first come back from those things, you're not exactly ready to go out there and, you know, run through an obstacle course and have people leaning on you and people throwing at you. So he has to work himself through that. And as coaches, we can encourage it, but we can't brainwash him.

"He's got to be able to come through that on his own. I think Aaron made some steps on Saturday, and my guess is as the competition rises, so will Aaron Henry."

Well, that chance begins Saturday when the Badgers play host to Michigan State to kick off the Big Ten portion of the schedule. In 2008, the Michigan State game was one of the toughest losses to swallow for the Badgers.

After having an 11-point lead with less than 10 minutes to play, it looked as though the Badgers were going to leave East Lansing with a victory. However, a late rally from the Spartans thwarted that idea.

One of the major reasons MSU was able to fight back and overtake the Badgers on a late Brett Swenson field goal was the play of wide receiver Blair White. In the game, the Spartan receiver had seven receptions for 164 yards. On Saturday, Henry will likely get a chance to match skills with the Spartans receiver.

But most importantly, Henry just wants to get back to playing on a level he knows he is capable of.

"I'm looking forward to playing," Henry said. "I don't know if I'm going to match up with him or what not, but I'm looking forward to going out there and competing. Whether it's against Blair White, B.J. Cunningham or Mark Dell. I really don't care who the wide receiver is.

"I'm just looking forward to going out there and show them what I can do and what I'm capable of."

Those are words coming from what sounds like a confident player. Not cocky or arrogant, but simply words from a player confident in his abilities. Though it has been a relatively slow start for the sophomore corner, he insists that confidence has stayed in tact.

And in doing so, he is prepared for a Big Ten slate and an opportunity to lead that his teammates in the secondary will surely rely on.

"Confidence has never left," Henry said. "The confidence has always been there. Confidence has never been an issue for me. I'm just ready to go out and play football on Saturday."

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