As the saying goes—players make plays. However, coaches are the ones responsible for putting players in position to make those plays and on Saturday what Andy Ludwig and Dave Aranda did was as impressive as anything the players did on the field.
Things didn't go as scripted in the first few series' of action for the Badgers offense and it was clear Northwestern had the game plan down. Luckily the defense showed up—at least that was the feeling around most of Badger Nation.
But, instead of panicking, Ludwig flipped the script on its head and what happened after that was an offensive explosion.
Dialing up the play-action pass on the Badgers first play from scrimmage in their fourth series was exactly what needed to happen and Ludwig had the guts to call that play.
Sure, it took Stave and Abbrederis to be in sync to complete the 63-yard touchdown pass too, but unless Ludwig got out of his shell it wouldn't have happened in the first place.
However impressive that change in play-calling was, it was what happened when Jared Abbrederis went down that most impressed me. Ludwig didn't clam up the offense, instead it actually became more open.
The Badgers hit nine different receivers in the game and the variety of players and ways it happened showed an offensive coordinator understanding the moment and calling a great game.
Stave threw for 241 yards and completed over 60 percent of his passes, something that didn't look possible from the start he had.
Ludwig's willingness to stick to the pass game also helped open up the run game too and it showed as the Badgers ran for 286 yards as a team. Both James White and Melvin Gordon III eclipsed the 100 yard mark and Gordon topped 170 yards.
He also had a 71-yard touchdown run, his fifth of over 25 yards this season, and that wouldn't have happened without a Badger passing game opening things up earlier in the game.
Credit Ludwig for making a quick adjustment and trusting that Stave would get it right.
On the flip side, Aranda deserves a ton of credit for putting the players in a great scheme—putting Michael Caputo closer to the line of scrimmage and starting Tanner McEvoy at safety.
That was a gutsy call, considering the limited playing time McEvoy has back at safety, but it worked.
Wisconsin allowed just 44 yards rushing and 197 yards through the air to a team that averages 435 yards a game this season.
They also worked on and dialed up some great blitz packages (something we haven't see a lot of this season) and it worked to perfection as well. UW had seven sacks in a game for the first time since 2003 and that wasn't by accident.
That, my friends, was all on Dave Aranda and his game plan coming into the game.
Credit Chris Borland, Ethan Armstrong and Caputo for executing to perfection, but once again—without Aranda figuring out how to attack and having that great game plan it wouldn't have mattered what those guys did.
So, as you heap praise on Borland, Gordon and Co. don't forget the guys that made it possible too.
Perhaps the saying should be—coaches call great games, players execute those great game plans? Or something like that…