MADISON - As Wisconsin fans left Camp Randall two weeks ago, many were left wondering why did the run game struggled so much against FCS foe Western Illinois. With the Leathernecks consistently stacking the box, it made life difficult for the usually lethal duo of Melvin Gordon and Corey Clement.
It would have been an easy guess for fans then that the Wisconsin offense has worked hard over the past two weeks to get its run game back on track, looking to improve on a 167-yard day on 39 carries that has lingered for nearly the past two weeks.
“A lot of good hard physical practices,” Andersen said. “I think we had more crossover this week, especially with good on good, one’s on one’s, one’s on two’s for some times up to 20 minutes a practice. I think that it’s good for this team. They handled it well, they practiced well against each other and it’s good for them to see the physical nature of the travel team against the travel team. Other then that we worked extremely hard and worked on getting better on our core plays.”
Andersen and his staff expect for the run game to get back on track this week against Bowling Green (2-1) and expect to return to what the Wisconsin running game has become known for.
“We expect to be a physical run team and that’s where we sit with it,” Andersen said. “We’re not putting any numbers on it or where we want to go. We want to run an effective offense, effective defense, effective special teams. All of us involved in this football program to run the ball better then we did a couple weeks ago.”
For the offense to take form and become what it is capable of doing, the Badgers need depth at tailback. With tailbacks Taiwan Deal and Caleb Kinlaw and fullbacks Derek Watt and Derek Straus all on the shelf, the Badgers utilized D.J. Spurling against Western Illinois and will use Austin Ramesh in such a situation Saturday.
“Austin proved himself throughout spring where he took a bunch of reps to be a very adequate young man to put the ball in his hands and run this offense,” Andersen said. “I don’t think you’d put it out there and have him run a bunch of tosses, but you get him between the tackles and do some things. He’s a physical powerful kid.”
If Ramesh is in as the third tailback, Andersen said a tight end could move to the fullback role or Wisconsin would play a two tight end run game.
Defense Prepared to Handle Tempo
It is no secret that Bowling Green will be running the no-huddle offense this week, and the Badgers have used the bye week to get adjusted to the fast-paced attack.“It’s nice to have time,” Andersen said about Bowling Green’s offense. “I kind of look at like if you were going to play the option. Back in the day when you use to get ready to play Air Force you kind of felt like you had a good plan, but you really never knew until the first drive. But I feel good about it.”
“The first drive is so important because in games like this to feel the tempo, the pace to understand because you can’t duplicate it,” Andersen added. “We’ve played pretty good against pace teams before, and we’ll have to handle the pace plays this week mentally through the communication and will also have to understand that will have to handle them physically.”
If Wisconsin won the coin toss, Andersen would elect to kick so he could get a better feel of what Bowling Green wants to do on offense.
With Wisconsin being thin at the fullback and tailback role, Andersen updated the status of Straus and Deal.
“To my knowledge Straus is still 10 days to two weeks probably,” Andersen said. “Taiwan is a extended period of time; weeks depending on how he heals. There’s a lot of things that have to go on.”
What teaching moments are available to Andersen from the NFL domestic cases and Jameis Winston incident?
“We will never point fingers if you will. If there is an opportunity to learn from others in good and in bad we definitely take that opportunity. I prefer to do that in a team setting when given the opportunity. I emphasize a lot of times a lot of good things that are going on in the world. Obviously if there’s kids that make a mistake we try and educate our kids in the best way, and the best way to educate is through examples.”
Extra Points: The Wisconsin players have decided that they want to play wearing the red helmets this week. This will be the first time since the Illinois game of last year where Wisconsin wore the red helmets … Andersen has been impressed by freshman cornerback Derrick Tindal and his adjustment to the college game. He sees Tindal continuing to play a big role for Wisconsin as the season progresses.