Head Coach — Gary Andersen (First year)
2012 Record: 8-6 (4-4)
The Wisconsin Badgers are coming off an interesting 2012 season for sure, but the Badgers ended things very well, ending up Big Ten Champs with a win over the Nebraska Cornhuskers. The Badgers really struggled to start things off, going 3-1 in their first four games, with all four in doubt at some point. The Badgers are known for having road-plows up front for an offensive line, but this group really struggled last year, especially early on which caused some coaching changes.
Speaking of coaching changes for the Badgers last season, at the end of the year the Badgers Brett Bielema left suddenly for Arkansas. Former coach and now the Athletic director for the Badgers Barry Alvarez took over the coaching duties for the Rose Bowl, falling to the Stanford Cardinal 20-14.
This season the Badgers have brought in Gary Anderson, formerly of Utah State. Anderson is known for having teams with a solid running game, and if the Badgers can figure out their quarterback situation, the Badgers should once again compete in the Big Ten Leaders division.
With coaching changes abound for the Badgers, Wisconsin has a new offensive coordinator as well with Andy Ludwig. Ludwig has talent around him, but the quarterback situation is still a major issue for the Badgers, and having question marks at that position does not bode well in what should be a much more competitive Big Ten this season.
James White returns in the backfield and even though White has played second fiddle to Montee Ball in the past, now it’s White’s time to shine for the Badgers. I really like this kid, he is a very explosive runner who has homerun potential every time he touches the ball.
The wideouts are raw for the Badgers despite, Jared Abbrederis returning from last season. Jordan Frederick should be the number two guy on the outside, but time will tell just how well this group gels together. The Badgers do have both Tight ends returning from last year in Jacob Pederson and Brian Wozniak, which will be much-needed experience for the group as a whole.
The Badgers are famous for their outstanding offensive line, but depth is a definite issue this season. The Badgers do have three returning starters from last season, but young talent is an issue, and after last year’s struggles, this unit needs to gel fast.
The Badgers return a total of five starters from last season’s defensive unit. The Badger defense was solid last year, but compared to year’s past, there was a bit left to be desired.
The Badgers brought in a new defensive coordinator as well, hiring Dave Aranda. Aranda stated that he plans to attack offenses with changing fronts and different blitz packages, so this unit understanding the system and knowing their assignments will be key to their success.
The Badgers return Chris Borland at the linebacking spot, and despite being a bit undersized, in my opinion, Borland is very solid and will provide veteran leadership in the middle. The Badger defensive front is solid once again, returning both tackles in the middle, and providing further veteran leadership outside.
The Secondary has just one returning starter from a season ago and if there is a weakness defensively, this is it. More and more teams are going to the spread offense in the Big Ten, and having a solid secondary is a key to success against these offenses. Dezmem Southward returns for the Badgers, but the Badger safety is the only returning starter for Wisconsin at this position.
The Badgers should once again compete in the Big Ten as the talent is definitely there for Wisconsin. The main problem for the Badgers is finding a quarterback. The Badger have qualified candidates, but until someone distinguishes themselves at camp, it’s tough to understand just how well this team will do.
Defensively expect the Badgers to be one of the better teams in the Big Ten, as I really like what Aranda is doing with his squad.
I don’t think the Badgers will be able to overtake the Buckeyes in the Legends division, but the Badgers will be a solid team this year and should the Buckeyes struggle for whatever reason, look for the Badgers to jump into the number one spot and once again compete for the Big Ten title.