So I'm going to apologize to all of OTE. I should've written these pieces a week ago when I had time. Instead I figured "Oh I'll write them this weekend". Well I ended up bartending 29 hours in 3 days so that didn't happen. In classic Wisconsin college student form, I'm now left writing against a deadline while completely hammered. The worst part is that my dart team got absolutely crushed tonight (Monday). Anyway, now that I've gotten that apology out of the way, let's take a look at the 3 most important pieces of the 2015 Wisconsin Badgers...
Head Coach Paul Chryst
Everyone's favorite Badger is back finally as the boss. Many Wisconsin fans, myself included, wanted him to become coach after some guy named Bert left for some school in hillbilly land in 2012. Well Chryst had only been the head coach at Pitt for only a year, and being a man of high character (or just not a complete asshole), Chryst was never really in the mix. Well Gary Andersen got hired, and while doing some nice things in 2 years, he'll most likely be remembered for the 59-0 destruction by OSU that was his last game as coach. Ultimately, history will probably (hopefully) remember Andersen as kind of a weird, but successful period overall for Wisconsin.
So what about Paul Chryst? Well he played quarterback at Wisconsin in the late 80s which is not something to be taken lightly. Not that I think being a "Wisconsin Man" or anything is important, but it's nice to have a familiar face in Madison, especially one who has said that this is his dream job. Probably won't have to worry about him making a lateral at best move to replace a coach who got hired to replace a coach he helped get fired by curbstomping his team. Like that would ever happen... An interesting side note is that Chryst was actually the Offensive Coordinator for Mike Riley at Oregon State in 2003-2004. Wait, that actually did happen didn't it? Oh damn it Pelini, you knew you couldn't beat Wisconsin so you decided to make sure we'd have to change coaches when you got canned. Well played, Bo, well played.
After coaching at Oregon State, Chryst came back to Madison as OC and was the architect behind some of the best offenses in Wisconsin history. He also wasn't afraid to score 83 points on people so remember that if you think the days of /Wisconsin scored again are passed, think again. One of the main reasons for hope this season especially is Chryst's work with quarterbacks. With the exception of 2007, Wisconsin despite never being known as passing team, has always had good quarterback play with Chryst on the staff. That was no different when he was at Pitt. The overall record wasn't great (19-19), but it is after all Pitt. What he did at Pitt is irrelevant now, what is relevant, and of utmost importance to Badger fans, is what he does with one player...
Quarterback Joel Stave
So I'm going to break out a chart...
|QB||Comp. %||TD/INT Ratio||Yards/attempt||QB Rating|
Quarterback A is Christian Hackenberg during his freshman season. Quarterback B is Joel Stave during his freshman season. Now before PSU fans flood the universe crying that I just used a table that makes Hackenberg look positively Stavesque, I'm going to point out that the point of this exercise is not to hate on Hackenberg. Hackenberg has physical gifts that Stave doesn't and his NFL potential far outweighs Stave's. However, few people will argue that Hackenberg didn't have a good freshman season and is widely considered to be a good quarterback, and rightfully so. He also was not good last year. Stave has had plenty of bad moments, yet doesn't get the benefit of the doubt, and is the butt of way too many jokes for reasons that kind of mystify me. He's on his third head coach, he was a zero star recruit, and besides Jared Abbrederis he hasn't had anything resembling good wide receivers. Yet he's 21-7 as a starter.
So what is the point of defending Joel Stave? Well for the first time in his career he was named the undisputed starter in the spring, which is kind of a big deal for a quarterback who for lack of a better term had a tough time psychologically in fall camp last year. He's also coming into this season without having had his collarbone snapped in half the year before for the first time since 2012. It can only help that noted bonehead Andy Ludwig is no longer his position coach or calling the plays. Even more beneficial is that the man who turned a walk on into a serviceable Big Ten quarterback in the span of one redshirt season is now his head coach. Will Stave more into Peyton Manning? No, but he doesn't need to. He's proven that he can be an effective quarterback when his abilities are maximized. If he can Scott Tolzein Light the Badgers will be just fine and challenging for a conference title, mostly because the defense is led by genius...
Defensive Coordinator Dave Aranda
My biggest concern when Andersen came to Wisconsin wasn't the offense. It was going to be really hard to eff up on offense when you have James White and Melvin Gordon carrying the football. My biggest concern was that the defense was switching from a base 4-3 to a base 3-4. Also compounding that concern was that nobody had ever heard of Dave Aranda. Well those concerns were obviously unfounded, as there was a contingent of Wisconsin fans that wanted him promoted to head coach. Obviously this didn't end up happening, but Barry gave him a significant raise to stay on as defensive coordinator, keeping one of the top assistants in the nation at the helm of the defense. This kills two birds with one stone. For starters, Aranda is an ace recruiter and it gives the defense continuity. Secondly, it masks that Chryst is and always has been an offensive mind. His offenses at Pitt improved significantly over 3 years, but his defenses were the definition of mediocre. Wisconsin's defenses the last 2 years have been anything but. I'll ignore 59-0, because I'm reasonably sure that Andersen locked Aranda in a closet somewhere for about a week until he announced he was leaving. Aranda's defenses have ranked 7th (2013) and 4th (2014) in the nation in total defense. I may like to ignore that Wisconsin played Ohio State last year, but the statistics don't, and that was still the 4th best defense in the nation. For the sake of comparison, MSU was 7th and OSU was 15h. It didn't look like it in Indy, but that was a damn good defense. One with players in it that were recruited to play in a 4-3. The more of Aranda's guys he gets in, the more creative he can be. No more giving up 59 points.
-Rafael Gaglianone returns for his sophomore season of being overweight, dancing, and drilling kicks.
-Scout team superhero quarterback Connor Senger transferred to UW-Oshkosh and immediately became the best player in WIAC
-Tanner McEvoy is starting at safety, hopefully using his extensive knowledge of bad quarterbacking decisions to his advantage
-Corey Clement looks ready to be Wisconsin's next Heisman finalist running back/primary destroyer of Nebraska linebackers
-There's still two Watt brothers on the roster, automatically meaning Wisconsin works harder than your team in the off season
-The Wisconsin offensive line is bigger and better than the offensive line of whatever team you cheer for