A big topic of discussion with the Wisconsin Badgers (besides Melvin Gordon, of course) at Big Ten media days on Monday, was the youth movement that has hit the team this year. Wide receiver Jared Abbrederis has moved on to greener pastures with the Green Bay Packers. Numerous playmakers on the defensive side-Chris Borland and Dezmen Southward are just two-have landed on NFL teams, meaning younger guys will have to step up for this team to have a chance to be successful.
Head coach Gary Andersen was obviously asked about the young team on Monday, and offered some insight as to how the coaching staff will address those issues. One very interesting way is holding two-a-days for the start of fall practice with the team split in half to help out the younger guys.
For the youth, one thing we’re doing in camp is we will start out with two practices. And we have the teams split basically in half. It’s not split by youth. It’s not split any other way than simply what’s the best ability for us to practice. We’re still in school for the first week in practice. So we’ll have a morning practice, afternoon practice, and then we’ll go through our meetings in the afternoon. It will allow youth to get reps. It’s one thing to sit in meeting rooms to see it and another thing to be on the field watching a player taking reps. But all of our players are going to get reps.
Andersen went on to say how there will be an A practice and a B practice so everyone gets a chance to get reps. And Andersen knows that the mental aspect of this game is very important as well, and is hoping that many of the freshmen can grasp playing at a high level. “But it’s the mental part of this game at this level that you have to be prepared to handle,” Andersen said, “from week one to week 10, 11, 12 and everything in between. That’s the toughest part for a young kid to handle.”
The wide receiver position was addressed right away, with Andersen noting that both Jazz Peavy and Robert Wheelwright were in the program last year and that this is the year for them to step up to the plate for this team to be successful. Andersen also talked about the three freshmen receivers-Natrell Jamerson, George Rushing and Krenwick Sanders-needing to learn the offense and learn it quick.
And we have some young men that came in, three young men that are with us, feel good about all three of them. Two of the three need to get on the airplane and fly to the LSU game for us. So we’ll see how all that boils down.
It’s a very interesting offseason for the coaching staff of the Badgers. In his first year at Wisconsin last year, Andersen came into a somewhat smooth transition as he had numerous veterans on the team. This year is a whole different ball of wax. It will say a lot about this coaching staff if Wisconsin is able to get off on the right foot.