MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Put on the pads. Lace up the shoes. Give an emotional pregame speech.
Simple yet oh-so effective, Chris Borland is No. 25 Wisconsin's old-school linebacker. He'll be a headache for Illinois offensive coordinator Bill Cubit when the Badgers visit Champaign on Saturday night.
"The Borland kid, I love watching him play," Cubit said. "I hate to say it because we're facing him, but that guy plays college football the way it should be played."
No showboating. Textbook tackling. And a polite, look-you-in-the-eye demeanor off the field that could remind someone of the boy next door.
But he's anything but on the field. The fifth-year senior has a team-high 56 tackles, good for third in the Big Ten, and two sacks. He's seemingly everywhere.
Senior running back James White has been watching this show in practice for four years now at Wisconsin (4-2, 2-1).
"He's very instinctive and he's going to find the ball," White said. "He does a great job of watching film, so he's that much faster out there when he's playing."
Borland followed up his 16-tackle game against Ohio State with a 10-tackle performance in the 35-6 dismantling last week of previously-ranked Northwestern.
He's also one forced fumble away of tying the career FBS record of 14 shared by five players including Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan. Asked about the secret to his success, Borland offered answers as if he was running a seminar on proper tackling.
"It's important, not only is it the right way to make plays, but it keeps you healthy and forces takeaways, too," Borland said.
As for the recent buzz in the pro and college level about the lack of "form tackling," Borland said it's in part due to how more teams are spreading the field. Getting put in space more may lend to fewer opportunities for tackling properly.