DeBauche something special for Wisconsin

first_imgDEREK MONTGOMERY/Herald photoDuring the college football season, big-name Badgers like John Stocco, Brian Calhoun, Brandon Williams and others dominate the local headlines with their outstanding play.With Wisconsin starting out 3-0 and knocking on the AP Top-25 door, it’s fine to give these guys credit as they lead the team into conference play.Just don’t forget about Ken DeBauche.Sure, special teams players don’t receive nearly as much attention as the guys scoring or stopping the touchdowns. But DeBauche has certainly helped UW to a fast start, as he has developed into one of the strongest punters in the Big Ten.”I really just like the way he goes about his business. His confidence and just the results he’s given us, have been great,” head coach Barry Alvarez said.Last week, in the Badgers’ 14-5 win over North Carolina, DeBauche averaged 46.7 yards on seven punts, four of them landing inside the Tar Heel 20-yard-line. DeBauche was named Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week for the effort.”The recognition is nice, but the confidence I have comes from the way that I played in the game and not so much from the recognition,” DeBauche said.Wisconsin tried some different things against North Carolina with the punting game, which allowed DeBauche to have one of his stronger performances of the season.”We did a lot of directional punting this game, which is a little more difficult,” DeBauche said. “We were backed up, in all sorts of different situations. So overall, when it comes to punts inside the 20, this was my best overall game.”Alvarez, whose Badgers were locked in a field position battle against the Tar Heels, was pleased with how DeBauche dealt with some difficult situations.”I think he manages the ball very well inside our 20,” Alvarez said. “He is extremely confident and very composed. I like the way he competes … when we’re backed up [in our zone].”In the same respect, we’re punting from midfield and he drops four of them inside the 20, and a couple of them inside the 10. It’s very unlikely they’re going to take the ball 90 yards, so he is very valuable in a game like that.”Before the Badgers: When he was younger, DeBauche started out playing wide receiver. It wasn’t until his high school years that he began to focus on his current position.”Punting was just something that I was always good at, but I never really thought that this is what I would be doing,” DeBauche said. “Once I started playing the position in high school, I realized that this was something that I could bring to a higher level.”As DeBauche began to realize his potential, he started to look up to Kevin Stemke, the Badger punter from 1997 to 2000, who many believe to be one of the best ever at Wisconsin. Stemke won the prestigious Ray Guy Award, given to the best collegiate punter, in 2000, the award’s inaugural season.”Stemke was the closest thing I had to a punting idol when I was growing up, because I could relate to him,” DeBauche said. “He came from Green Bay, and he played for the Badgers, so I looked up to him.”Some people, including Alvarez, have spoken of comparisons between Stemke and DeBauche in the recent past.”It’s nice to hear … my name being mentioned with Stemke, it’s definitely humbling,” DeBauche said. “The coincidence is that I met him for the first time on the sideline at the North Carolina game. He complimented me on the game, and that was nice to hear.”Atop the league leaders: DeBauche currently leads all Big Ten punters, averaging 45.4 yards per attempt this season. While he hasn’t gotten arrogant over being at the top, DeBauche has drawn added confidence from the statistics.”It just means that I’m doing my job,” he said. “With punting, you really have to look at the stats, so if my stats are doing well, I guess I’m doing well for the team, and I hope I can stay on top.”With a nationally heralded Michigan team coming to Camp Randall this weekend, DeBauche hasn’t let UW’s past struggles against the Wolverines affect his belief in the Badger’s chances.”It’s a rivalry for us, it’s a big game no matter what the records of the two teams are,” DeBauche said. “I’m excited to be a part of it, to experience the atmosphere and see what it’s like.”Our past games against them don’t really matter to me, it just matters what we do this week, how we prepare, and what happens on Saturday.”last_img

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