The Wisconsin Badgers are going through plenty of transition this offseason as they welcome in a new head coach in Gary Andersen and begin to assimilate his philosophy into Madison. There will be changes all over the field next season, but the biggest transition may take place in the defensive secondary where the Badgers will not only have to break in some new faces, but will have to play a whole new style of defense.
Wisconsin already had to replace both of its starting cornerbacks from last season in Devin Smith and Marcus Cromartie due to graduation but the competition looks like it will be even more wide open than anticipated. Andersen and new defensive coordinator Dave Aranda will begin to transition the Badgers’ defense away from their previous 4-3 base into a 3-4 base for next season. While most of that transition will take place in the defensive front seven, the secondary will be in a for big changes as well.
That’s because under Andersen, the Badgers’ cornerbacks will have to play more man-to-man coverage than they have in the past. In their 4-3 defense, the corners had more flexibility to back off of a receiver, but in Anderson’s 3-4, those corners will have to play on an island and lock up receivers one-on-one.
Andersen understands the challenges this presents. He will be taking a long hard look at his team this spring to see just how much his secondary can handle and will have to adjust his defensive scheme’s accordingly. Sophomore Peniel Jean and freshman Reggie Mitchell will likely start the spring as the top options at corner, but there are a number of young corners right behind them looking for an opportunity to shine.
Which of them can prove they’re the lock-down corner that Gary Andersen is looking for? We’ll have to watch this spring to find out.