Originally written on The B1g Time  |  Last updated 11/17/14
Wisconsin-michigan

 

For a variety of reasons, the Wisconsin Badgers may be the least heralded three-time Big Ten Football Champions ever.

Sure, they were not technically division champions last year, but you can’t blame the Badgers for the lack of institutional discipline at Ohio State and Penn State.

No, their brand of play isn’t sexy. They grind it out on the offensive side of the ball in hopes of winning the time of possession, an approach that is made effective by a consistent core of talent at running back and some of the largest offensive linemen found in captivity.

Their defense, generally speaking, is very stout particularly against the run. Combine these two factors and you have a lot of low-scoring bouts, a hard sell to the average fan in a world of college football where defense may still win championships, but offense is generally predicated on the high-flying spread attack.

The 2013 season took an unexpected turn before the 2012 season was even over. Shortly after Wisconsin’s stomping of Nebraska in the Big Ten Championship game, then-head coach Bret Bielema announced that he was leaving the school for, what he felt were, greener pastures at Arkansas.

UW eventually tabbed former Utah State head coach Gary Andersen as their new head man. Andersen can count himself as one of the few coaches to ever inherit a program that was arguably at its peak. But, with that luxury come high expectations.

2012 Record: 8-6 (4-4 B1G, Third in Leaders Division)

Bowl Game: Rose Bowl- Lost to Stanford 20-14

Head Coach: Gary Andersen, 1st year

First Practice: March 9

Spring Game: April 20

 

The More Things Change.....Change will be the name of the game in Madison this year as Andersen and his staff take over. The question is: how much will the new regime stray from the traditional school of thought at Wisconsin, both offensively and defensively? No doubt that Andersen would like to work at least some components of the spread into the offensive attack. Fans are understandably hesitant in that regard, but a small dose of change may not be the end of the world. One of the downfalls of a run-heavy offense is the inability to overcome medium-to-large deficits in a timely fashion. Perhaps some spread could remedy that.

 Andersen has also shown a willingness to adjust his defensive schemes based upon where the talent lies. That may not be the worst thing for a Badgers’ squad that boasts some talented linebackers and skilled end in David Gilbert whose athleticism could possibly be minimized by such a shift.

The More They Stay the Same.....Even if (and it’s a huge “if”) Andersen wants to become more spread-oriented, the transition would be gradual. The pro-style offense will probably never be fully disassembled at Wisconsin and even if it is, it won’t happen in one offseason .

Let’s Get Ready to Rumble: Linebackers

Wisconsin may have lost linebacker Mike Taylor to graduation, but the Badgers return standout Chris Borland and a host of other LB’s with good playing experience. Ethan Armstrong was a fixture in the lineup a year ago and could be poised to have a breakout season during his redshirt senior campaign.

Nothing to See Here: Running Back

There’s no replacing a Montee Ball but, per usual, UW looks to have a few qualified candidates waiting in the wings. Used primarily as a change of pace back on end-arounds, then-redshirt freshman, Melvin Gordon showcased his explosiveness and playmaking ability. A few doubts remain about his ability to be the workhorse, but no one can deny that he will make an impact in 2013.  Senior James White will also be back for his final season. After he was named a consensus Big Ten Freshmen of the Year in 2010, White was thought to be the heir apparent to John Clay, but was eventually overshadowed by Montee Ball. White played more of utility role last season, but is a more than capable primary back.

Name to Watch: Tanner McEvoy, Quarterback

The 6- foot-6, 215 pound junior college transfer was a sought after commodity in the offseason. He opted for Wisconsin over the likes of Florida, Oregon, and West Virginia.

He has been billed as an Andersen-type quarterback who possesses the dual threat capabilities necessary to run the spread offense.

The UW depth-chart is unbelievably clogged at the quarterback position. They essentially return every quarterback on the roster from a year ago in a season that saw three different men take snaps under center. Andersen has declared an open competition throughout the spring, and while a starter will probably not be named in April, the cream will undoubtedly rise to the top during these practices.

Spring is a Success If....The learning process begins.

With a change at the top of the totem pole and several positions seeing more than one position coach in the past few seasons, the transition will not be easy. The key is that it begins now. It may not be possible to learn everything in a few weeks of practice, but some concepts have to stick before spring camp breaks, 

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

WATCH: Cormier tells Jones to get his s-- together

Fans holding 'Free Tom Brady Rally' at Gillette Stadium

Josh Hamilton to be activated by Rangers

WATCH: Top CB recruit makes insane catch doing backflip

Biggest surprises of the MLB season

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Marcus Mariota leads NFL in jersey sales for May

Report: Scott Skiles frontrunner for Magic coaching job

Shanahan: injuries are not why Robert Griffin III struggles

Kyle Korver ruled out for remainder of playoffs

Randy Moss attends cancer survivor's graduation

Roger Staubach shares thoughts on Greg Hardy

Warriors crush Rockets in Houston to take 3-0 series lead

WATCH: D'Angelo Russell whiffs on horrible golf swing

Brian Matusz ejected for having foreign substance on arm

PHOTO: Don Cherry wears wild suit even for his taste

PHOTOS: Gigantic sinkhole at Jack Nicklaus golf course

WATCH: Memphis player catches defense sleeping, scores

WATCH: Astros turn around-the-horn triple play

French Open Women's preview: Who will make the quarters?

WATCH: Bryan Price gets ejected before game starts

WATCH: Vin Scully narrates fan's marriage proposal

WATCH: Harper, Matt Williams have special handshake

The Yankees are succeeding despite the numbers

College Football News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
THE B1G TIME

Eight biggest surprises of the MLB season

Bryan Price ejected before first pitch

Vin Scully narrates marriage proposal

Pats fan's obituary defends Brady

Marlins players skip own charity event

John Wall tells All-NBA Team voters to ‘keep sleeping’

Jim Kelly: No doubt Tom Brady cheated

Post-combine NBA Draft big board: Top 30

Ex-players sue NFL for conspiring to push painkillers

Astros surprising, but can get better with Correa

Here come the Giants

Aaron Hernandez got new tattoo in prison

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.