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New Wisconsin coach maintains brute-force mentality

[ 0 ] October 29, 2013 |

IOWA CITY, Ia. – The attitude and approach of Wisconsin’s football program hasn’t changed much since the days of Barry Alvarez.

“There’s certain things you do that are fundamentally part of who you are and what you are,” Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Certainly, Barry did a great job of establishing that. I think (his) two successors have been both smart enough to say, ‘This has been a pretty good formula for quite a while.’

“You’re not going to get too far off that path.”

Oct 19, 2013: Wisconsin Badgers running back Corey Clement (6) and tight end Austin Traylor (46) celebrate a touchdown with teammates during the game against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Memorial Stadium. Wisconsin wins 56-32 over Illinois. (Trevor Ruszkowksi-USA TODAY Sports)

Oct 19, 2013: Wisconsin Badgers running back Corey Clement (6) and tight end Austin Traylor (46) celebrate a touchdown with teammates during the game against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Memorial Stadium. Wisconsin wins 56-32 over Illinois. (Trevor Ruszkowksi-USA TODAY Sports)

The Badgers’ next stop is an 11 a.m. showdown Saturday with the Hawkeyes, at Kinnick Stadium.

Alvarez, a former Mason City High School coach and Iowa assistant, reversed Wisconsin’s football fortunes, posting a 117-74-4 record from 1990 to 2005 and winning three Rose Bowls.

He was replaced by Bret Bielema, a former Hawkeye player and assistant, who went 68-24 over the next seven seasons, winning three straight Big Ten titles.

First-year coach Gary Andersen maintained the Badgers’ brute-force mentality, but did a little tweaking.

“Offensively they look very similar, not identical, but very similar to what they’ve been doing, and for a good reason,” Ferentz said. “Defensively, they did make a wholesale change.

“It’s a very different team, they’re a 3-4 (defensive-alignment) team, which is unusual in college football.”

So far, the three-lineman, four-linebacker scheme has been successful.

Wisconsin ranks fourth nationally in run defense, allowing 87.6 yards per game, and 16th in pass defense, allowing 197.4 yards.

Those are frightful numbers for an Iowa offense that has been hit and miss the past three games.

“We’ll definitely have our work cut out with that, trying to understand what they’re trying to do to us,” Hawkeye quarterback Jake Rudock said. “Sometimes, you’re just not sure who is going to come (on a blitz), what your protection is.

“For the offensive linemen, certain run blocks are different. It just makes a little extra thing to worry about.”

Andersen came to Wisconsin after guiding Utah State to an 11-2 record last fall. One of the losses was a 16-14 defeat by the Badgers.

“The bottom line is, both sides of the ball and their special teams are well coached,” Ferentz said. “They’re very disciplined as a football team. I think that’s been characteristic of (Wisconsin) teams for quite some time.

“If you go back and look at Utah State film, you see the same thing.”

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Andrew Logue: Andrew has been with the Des Moines Register for 19 years, covering everything from preps to Hawkeye and Cyclone sports, as well as the Drake Relays. View author profile.

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