Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Will Badgers, Gary Andersen Improve in Coach's Second Year?

Badgers head coach Gary Andersen isn’t about grabbing headlines for himself.

Much like the Wisconsin way, he’d much rather go about his business, put a few trophies on the wall and keep the attention of his football team where it belongs – with the players.

The fact of the matter is, Gary Andersen is a highly sought after product already.

Rumors last season of him interviewing for the vacant Cleveland Browns position came to be true, but in the end he’s back at Wisconsin for his second season, trying to improve on a New Year’s Day bowl appearance, runner-up in the Big Ten and an overall record of 9-4.

Anything less than a spot in the Big Ten Title Game would be a disappointment for not only UW, but Andersen, personally.

Looking at what Wisconsin, and Andersen, were able to do in 2013, there’s a very short list of things that would lead to a more successful sophomore campaign for the head man in MadTown.

3rd Down Efficiency

Wisconsin’s offense found themselves against the sticks 177 times on third down in 2013.

The Badgers moved the chains just 74 of those times (42%) which ranked them right in the middle of the pack in the Big Ten.

Pass the Football

The Badgers were in front of just Minnesota (148.1) and Nebraska (196.7) in yards passing per game at 197.6.

Another year under center should help Joel Stave in that category, though the decision between he and Tanner McEvoy still hasn’t been made.

No doubt that with the loss of Doug Pedersen, James White and Jared Abbrederis from the pass catching schemes, it won’t be an easy task to remain a two-dimensional offensive machine.

Ball Hawk on Defense

Wisconsin’s defense has always prided itself in stopping the run. Problem was in 2013, when teams were forced to throw the football, the Badgers defensive backfield was only able to pick-off nine total passes from their opponent – only Illinois (3) and Indiana (7) mustered fewer in the Big Ten conference.

The Badgers were also one of five teams in the league who didn’t record a defensive score throughout the 2013 season.

Come Out Of The Locker Room Hungry

Granted this statistic could be skewed by large first half leads, but Wisconsin’s offense was putrid in the third quarter, scoring-wise.

UW scored 453 points total in their 13 games, and just 95 of those came in the third quarter. The first quarter wasn’t much better as the Badgers scored just eight more points, 103.

On average, Wisconsin scored one more time each game, in the second and fourth quarters than they did the first and third. Not something that bodes well for an offensive that won’t want to be coming from behind.

BEAT URBAN MEYER

If and when Wisconsin and Andersen get the opportunity to meet Ohio State, it will happen in the Big Ten Championship game in Indianapolis in early December.

Andersen, who coached under Meyer during his years in Utah, was close to upsetting the Buckeyes inside the Horseshoe last season, but an attempt to tie the game late fell short when a last minute drive, down seven, didn’t even net a first down.

Without quarterback Braxton Miller for the year, lost after a shoulder injury in practice this week, writers are picking either Ohio State or Michigan State to be the ones coming out of the other side of the Big Ten, to potentially play the Badgers for a College Playoff berth or Rose Bowl appearance.

 

Tags: Big Ten Football Gary Andersen Urban Meyer

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