One of the most interesting offensive wrinkles that has developed from the last two games of 2002 through spring football is the use of "cluster formations," which involves three wide receivers grouped together in one small space at the line of scrimmage. During the spring game, the Badgers used several different cluster variations, and there will be even more to come.
With many four and five wideout formations introduced during spring football, the Badgers are looking for new ways to capitalize on the deepest receiver corps in program history. The cluster formations, similar to the two-tailback formations featuring Anthony Davis, Dwayne Smith and Booker Stanley, are a great way to cause confusion for defenses.
Offensive Coordinator Brian White offered Badger Nation a thorough explanation of what the cluster formations are designed to accomplish:
"Just in talking with our defensive coaches, it creates a lot of confusion on defense," White said. "You have to make a decision. It's like 10 or 15 years ago, when everyone was going to the empty formations. You make a decision whether you're going to play out in space or you're going to stampede them with blitzes. So when you're in contracted formations or expansive formations, it forces a defense to really expose their philosophy to you. Either they're going to sit in there and keep everything in that box, or they are going to throw the kitchen sink at you.
"But what it does, from an offensive standpoint, you can get that declaration real fast, because you can't do both. You can either do one or the other. And there's a lot of passing off that you have to do. Your defensive players have to be real disciplined. There's a lot of opportunities to be able to pick players on defense and get two for one in terms of route running. So you have to be really disciplined. We've expanded it this spring and it's been pretty good."
Quarterback Jim Sorgi said the cluster formations were one of his favorite new wrinkles he practiced during spring football. He predicted it would become a "big part" of Wisconsin's offense in 2003.
The new formations, which even involved fullback Matt Bernstein spread out wide at times, gave Sorgi a multitude of options in the passing game.
"It lets us get an option down the field, an intermediate option, and an option down low, along with the backs," Sorgi said. "So it gives us a lot of options, where we can get a quick read off of it. You're going to see a lot of three wide receiver bunches."
New Formations a Major Weapon
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