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"That's so sorry," adds Jefferson.
The four are in a darkened room on the eighth floor of the Wisconsin football complex, watching tape of the Minnesota offense in preparation for their game with the Golden Gophers. They gather here most early afternoons, helping each other identify an upcoming opponent's tendencies, trying to anticipate where the double teams will come from and which tackles are most likely to chop block.
Minnesota, averaging 220 rushing yards per game, would pose quite a few challenges. Welsh reminds the crew that the Gophers like to run misdirection plays, pulling linemen and then blocking low against the pursuit. Watching video with the front four is a little like watching a comedy in a foreign language: You don't quite get the jokes. A play that strikes the casual observer as banal--four yards between the tackles--will elicit thigh-slapping mirth. When asked why, Welsh explains, "The tackle got turned the wrong way--"
James cuts him off, "He ended up on his ass."
A Minnesota off-tackle counter against Michigan that goes for a touchdown is rerun a dozen times from three different angles. Hawthorne points out that the Wolverines' defensive tackle was in the right place. "It's not on him. Linebacker's supposed to be there."
"In our scheme," Jefferson assures them, "we'd have a linebacker in the gap."
"Look at Kyle Orton. Before playing us, he was on Cold Pizza,he was on Best Damn Sports Show, he was on every Heisman list," Raz says. "Now he's on my highlight tape."
Welsh busts out laughing. "Oh, shizzle."
James would add to his highlight tape in the Badgers' 38--14 victory over the Golden Gophers last Saturday, earning two quarterback hurries while playing only passing downs on his still-tender ankle. His linemates had a pretty good day too. The first defensive series was typical of the season: On first down Jefferson held Barber to a three-yard gain; on second, Hawthorne and Jefferson stuffed the middle, forcing Barber to cut outside, where defensive back Robert Brooks stopped him cold; on third, James stunted to the inside, knocking down the pass and the passer, Bryan Cupito. Wisconsin ran up a 31--7 halftime lead behind Stocco and Davis while holding Minnesota to just 21 rushing yards on 10 carries. Hawthorne sat out the second half. "That defensive front is stout," said Gophers coach Glen Mason afterward. "You win championships with defense, and that's got to be one of the best in the country." As for James's ankle, it seemed fine as he charged across the field to take possession of Paul Bunyan's ax, awarded to the winner of the annual rivalry.