Wisconsin saw the departure of Coach Brett Bielema after the 2012 season. Bielema moved on and accepted the head coaching position at Arkansas. Bielema built on the tradition that legendary coach Barry Alvarez had established of a big physical running team in Wisconsin. Fans were sorry to see the end of the Bielema era as head coach of the Badgers but with Coach Alvarez assisting in the transition to a new regime there was some continuity in the program. Alvarez was already in the role of athletic director much like Tom Osborne was at Nebraska when they made the transition from Bill Callahan to Bo Pelini.
Alvarez and the University of Wisconsin selected Gary Anderson to fill the role of head coach for the badgers. Coach Anderson’s coaching career has been one that has been mostly concentrated on the defensive side of the ball. Anderson has only had one season of coaching as an offensive coordinator and that was 25 years ago at Southeastern Louisiana. Since then he has filled many roles as a defensive line coach and defensive coordinator. Anderson served as the head football coach for Utah State from 2009 – 2012.
Anderson is known for being a hands-on coach. He will likely follow Bielema well as he will be personally involved with all aspects of his team. He also has a track record for being a coach who goes out of his way to forge close relationships with his players much like Bielema was known for.
Coach Anderson will not be changing everything that Wisconsin is known for. On the Offensive side of the ball, we can expect to see mammoth-sized lineman who blow opposing defenses off the ball and open running lanes large enough for a truck to run through. When those holes open, fans can continue to expect to see versatile tough running backs relentlessly barreling through them. Finding these large imposing offensive linemen has not been difficult for Wyoming in recent history.
Coach Anderson will be attempting to take some of this size and power and apply it to the defensive side of the ball. Under Anderson’s tutelage along with Dave Aranda the Badgers will play a 3-4 defensive scheme this season.
The 3-4 scheme has reemerged in the NFL as an effective way to disguise a rush on the opposing teams quarterback. The concept is that instead of the offensive line knowing that four down linemen rushing the quarterback there will be three linemen that the offensive line has to account for. A fourth or more rushers can come from anyplace on the field. This concept can be confusing for an offense to recognize where the rush is coming from. Anderson’s hope this will lead to more pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
Why will this scheme work at Wisconsin? The success of the 3-4 will mostly rely on the ability of the 3 down linemen to absorb blocks in the running game. If the three players on the line of scrimmage can occupy blockers successfully it will allow the four linebackers to stuff the running lanes. The key to a dominant 3-4 defense will be the nose tackle. Beau Allen is the nose tackle for the Badgers this season with Warren Herring backing him up.
Allen is a 6-foot-3, 335-pound senior. If this mountain of a man can absorb two blockers every play for the Badgers, we should see some success in their new defensive scheme.