September 19, 2009

Borland wreaking havoc on special teams

MADISON, Wis. - When it comes to special teams play, there is no one on the Wisconsin roster playing at a higher level than Chris Borland.

In week one, he made several bone crushing hits that helped teammates get in to make a tackle. Last week, he pinned a Brad Nortman punt inside the one yard line. Most recently, against Wofford, the true freshman blocked a punt that directly resulted in a touchdown early in the second quarter.

"He's a freak," fellow freshman David Gilbert, who actually recovered the blocked punt in the end zone for the score said after the game. "He definitely caused that play and I give him a lot of credit for that."

That play came at a somewhat critical time for the Badgers. Up only 10-0, the big special teams play jumpstarted the offense that began the game on a slow note.

"Amazing effort by him," UW head coach Bret Bielema said. "We have actually been practicing that block for three weeks and their shield kind of comes together and gets small so we talked about scaling off the edge.

"Chris just realized he was going to be able to go airborne, I believe he came scot-free, and then to be able to extend on it."

His impression has been so strong through fall camp and into the early portion of the season that Bielema is utilizing him in as many ways as possible. After Philip Welch missed an extra point in the third quarter, Bielema told Borland that he was going to get to kick the next one.

"I walked up to Borland and said, 'Hey, if we score another touchdown, you're kicking the PAT,'" Bielema said. "I said, 'Can you do it,' and he said 'Absolutely.' That's just the kind of kid he is."

Borland kind of went under the radar as a recruit while in high school, but through three games, he is surely playing like a man on a mission. Since his arrival on campus, the Ohio native has been nothing but impressive. The way he shaped his body and his knack for making plays has not gone unnoticed and it is something Bielema is excited to build upon in the future.

"That's the kind of kid you can build something around," Bielema said. "He's very special. Our kids recognize it. I like the awareness with where he's at."

On the season, Borland has five tackles, most of which have come via special teams. But his impact goes far beyond the tackles he has been able to record. He is a physical specimen that is always wreaking havoc on opponents and seems to be a big time player in the making.

"I try to just take advantage and be a playmaker," Borland said. "I may not be the fastest or the biggest, but I think I have a knack for making plays and that's how I contribute to this team."

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