Wisconsin is coming off a third straight Big Ten football championship but faces a number of questions heading in to the 2013 season. The Badgers are in the midst of a coaching transition after Bret Bielema skipped town prior to the Rose Bowl in favor of a shot at turning around an Arkansas football program recovering from a motorcycle wreck of a season. In comes Gary Andersen, who demonstrated some solid potential by making Utah State a winning team, but the new coach loses a record-breaking running back and must figure out who the heck is going to lead the offense on the field.
Still, Wisconsin figures to be a bit of a pest in the Big Ten Leaders Division and may be the biggest threat to Ohio State's potential run to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship Game. With spring football in the books in Madison, we welcome the opinions of Andy Coppens, managing editor of Madtown Badgers, and Richard Branch, co-founder of Buck Around, to get a sense of what is expected at Wisconsin in 2013.
1. Wisconsin is undergoing a coaching change, hiring Gary Andersen away from Utah State after Bret Bielema packed his bags for Arkansas. We will certainly get a better feel in the fall, but how has the coaching transition gone now that the spring is wrapped up?
Gary Andersen (left) takes over in Madison for Bret Bielema.
Photo: US Presswire
Andy Coppens: Honestly, I don't know if this transition could've gone better. Players readily admit to being a bit resistant to the change that happened last year around this time. With Andersen and the new staff everyone has talked about being completely on board & it's shown in how this team practices and how willing players have been to make transitions to new roles without whining. That didn't happen last year and Andersen has also done a good job of embracing the traditions at UW while also putting his own stamp - which was important after a pretty bitter breakup with Bielema.
Richard Branch: By all reports Gary Andersen has hit a home run with his players, athletic administrators, and the fanbase thus far. There were concerns when hired he was a "spread guy" who would radically reshape the team's identity but if the spring game was any indication the offense will look very familiar to those who've watched Badger games in the past. The Badgers will build their offense around the running game and besides a wrinkle here and there should little changed from the Bielema era. I think it was critical that Andersen brought with him a large contingent of his staff from Utah State hoping to limit the transition. Most of the coaching staff already knows how Andersen operates and what he expects, they can focus on managing the transition for the players rather than amongst themselves.
For the players, change is on defense. Schematically they shift from a 4-3 to a 3-4 which requires personnel to learn new schemes, but the bigger adjustment will be in defensive philosophy. Under the old regime the Badgers played conservative, bend but don't break defense designed to keep the offense in front of them and minimize the chances of the big play. Under new defensive coordinator Dave Aranda the Badgers will be blitzing a whole lot more and bringing pressure from all over the field. The question will be if defensive backs recruited to play in Bielema's more conservative scheme will be able to adjust to press coverages and playing man to man with little help from safeties. This team as a rule tends to be more athletic on defense than offense so they have a shot but as you alluded to we won't know anything until the season starts and they execute at game speed.no comments