With a new coach comes new everything: new expectations, new worries, new curiosities, etc.
After Bret Bielema left his position as head coach of the Wisconsin Badgers for the same job with the Arkansas Razorbacks, and former coach Barry Alvarez came out of retirement for one game to coach the Rose Bowl, that time of change officially began for the Badgers.
Gary Andersen, formerly coach of the Utah St. Aggies, was the man eventually hired as the new head coach of the Badgers. With that in mind, I have a couple of specific things that I as a Badger supporter would like to see out of Andersen as he ushers in this new era in Madison.
Expanding the passing game:
One of the main reasons for Andersen’s hiring had to be the fact that he was able to recruit someone like Chuckie Keeton to be the quarterback for his team. Being able to recruit a versatile, athletic quarterback is something the Badgers have rarely done.
They did it recently with Russell Wilson, and his performance gave people in Madison a craving for that kind of play and those kind of results out of their quarterback. If Andersen can consistently recruit quarterbacks that play like Keeton and Wilson play, those desired results for of the Badgers’ quarterback and in their passing game will improve greatly.
With Andersen will likely come a move to a more modern kind of offense for the Badgers. In other words, more air time with the football and less on the ground. With plenty of teams, this is no problem. And considering how much the ratio of passing to running plays becomes, it may not end up being a problem for the Badgers. However, there’s a chance that it could.
Don’t eliminate the rushing attack:
The Badgers are a different case as their reputation, both on the field and in recruiting, has been built on their running game and the offensive line that helps make it produce the way it’s been able to.
Considering the amount of the Badgers’ success that has been built on the running game over the last 25 years or so, it’s something that can’t be eliminated completely from the offense. If that happens, it would probably end up backfiring on Andersen in both recruiting and on the field.
This would end up killing his chance to have any notable success at the university. A more modern offense is perfectly fine, but not at the expense of what has made this team a winner over the last two decades.
Strengthen the defense:
One thing that changed drastically for the better for the Aggies during Andersen’s years coaching them was their defense. The 2012 season was by far the best season defensively for the Aggies with Andersen as coach, and the same kind of positive change would be very welcome in Madison.
The Badgers have had defensive troubles during Bielema’s time as coach that have gotten out of hand over the last few seasons. It’s not so much a statistical problem so much as it is a problem where the Badgers can’t put together consecutive complete games of good defense.
Either it’s a last-minute or last-quarter problem with their defense, a whole game problem (ie. a lot of points and/or yards given up), or they have a good game on defense and can’t follow it up with a second straight one. This defensive problem has cost the Badgers numerous games, including bowl games, during Bielema’s seven seasons as Badgers head coach.