(photo courtesy UWBadgers.com)
We heard the first words from new Badgers football head coach Gary Andersen today as he sat down for his 1st interview exclusively with UWBadgers.com correspondent and radio color commentator Mike Lucas. In those words Andersen gave a clear sense that he knows what Wisconsin is all about and is looking to build on that foundation as well as adding his own twists to how things are done at the UW.
In my book, that's a mark of any good coach - knowing what you have to work with and finding ways to make our philosophies mirror your personnel. As the saying goes, you can't fit a square peg into a round hole.
However, that doesn't mean that what we've seen at Wisconsin over the past 21 years is going to always be the same. Coach Andersen more than hinted that that would be the case. He told Lucas the following in the video:
“The first thing we want to be able to do is run the football. We want to run the ball, but you have to be explosive and you have to be able to take shots down the field consistently, whether through play-action or your route combinations.
“That’s important because here you can recruit big, strong, physical offensive linemen because they’re here (the Midwest). They’re going to be a part of the program and have been forever.
“If we have the right quarterback, I think it’s a very vicious weapon to be able to have a phase of the option in your game. It just depends on the pieces of the puzzle that are there.’’
Now before the collective freak out begins, Andersen isn't saying Wisconsin is going to the spread offense. What I believe he is saying is that part of being explosive is keeping the defense honest in that the quarterback is capable from time to time of taking off and running with the football.
Think of Wisconsin's offense under Russell Wilson if you will, that's more along the lines of what we are likely to see at Wisconsin. The question is does Wisconsin have the quarterback on it's roster capable of doing that?
Simply put, YES. In fact they may actually have two of those quarterbacks available to them next year. One would be redshirt freshman Bart Houston who ran an offense at De LaSalle High School in California that clearly ran a form of the option offense. Don't believe me, check out this video (games 1-6 from senior year) or this one (games 7-14 of senior year) for all the proof you need.
The other may be Curt Phillips who could get a sixth year of eligibility. Of course Wisconsin could also be looking into getting a QB in this 2013 class that fits what Andersen is looking for since they don't have one already, but that's going a bit too far down the rabbit hole right now.
Let's make this much abundantly clear - Wisconsin is never going to a full spread offense.
It just isn't in the DNA of what kind of player Wisconsin attracts and produces in it's in state kids, you know, just the foundation of the program and all. However, you're also fooling yourself if you think Wisconsin hasn't run parts of the spread offense over the past three years or so.
Again, just watch what Russell Wilson did in 2011 and again, watch what Wisconsin did in the B1G Championship game against Nebraska. Clearly, being able to have that option available makes it much easier to score points.
I don't know about you, but I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt to a man who's team ranked 8th in scoring offense this past season.
Of course this is all speculation as we haven't seen a single down of a practice or anything of that nature and we won't until late March or early April, but we can have at least an educated guess based on results of the past at Wisconsin and Utah State, no?