Barry Alvarez: Start of season exciting for all of us

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bsnTo be outstanding, Lou Holtz used to say, you don't need a whole team full of great players. If you have five great ones and nobody below average, you'd have a chance to be a great team.

The supporting guys just had to be solid players that didn't hurt you.

As a coach, I've gone through a year and didn't realize a guy was a great player until the season was over. That was the case with Mark Tauscher, an offensive tackle on the 1999 Big Ten champs.

That's why I tried not to judge until the end of the year. I haven't put a number on this year's team. Our tight end Troy Fumagalli is exceptional and cornerback Nick Nelson could be exceptional.

Yes, Jack Cichy would be one of the five because of what he brings to the table. He was a very productive player. But it was his charisma, energy and leadership that made him a great player.

We'll miss him. He brought excitement and personality to the defense with his vocal leadership. He was also an explosive player who could give you big plays like Vince Biegel and T.J. Watt.

But Jack missed the last seven games last season and those other guys at inside linebacker held up pretty well without him and without Chris Orr, who was injured in last year's opener.

I think Chris is similar in some ways to Jack. He likes football. He's smart. He's very vocal. T.J. Edwards has made a lot of plays the last two years and Ryan Connelly has stepped up big when needed.

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