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A new regime wants to create a new identity for Badgers

BY RYAN PROBASCO | AUGUST 29, 2013 5:00 AM

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The college football-coaching carousel, as the sport’s followers know can be, at times, nauseating.

By Feb. 1, less than a month after 2012-13 season had concluded, 31 Football Bowl Subdivision  teams had changed head coaches.

Mass overhaul of the coaching landscape has become the norm in the sport. But when there are coaching changes, it usually occurs in a program that hasn’t had much success. Gary Andersen, the new face of Wisconsin football, will face with a unique challenge, seeing as his squad has earned at least a share of the Big Ten title in three-straight seasons.

But despite Bret Bielema and the former regime’s success with the Badgers, Andersen can’t wait to implement his own identity on the program.

“We walked into a program that is absolutely — was not broke,” Andersen said during Big Ten media day in Chicago on July 24. “It’s been very successful and there’s great young men that have been recruited there, and the prior staff did a great job in that area.

“… There’s going to be differences when you take over a program. It’s important to put your own stamp on it.”

Along with the coaching staff, the roster itself underwent a massive change as well. Eight starters have moved on, leaving holes in several key areas for the Badgers.

James White will take over as the featured halfback for Wisconsin. Although he’s amassed 32 career touchdowns in three seasons, White has yet to lead his team in carries. The senior feels he still has a lot left to accomplish as a Badger.

“I think I fly under the radar sometimes, but I kind of like it that way,” White said during Big Ten media day on July 25. “It gives you some more added motivation and allows you to push yourself during the season.”

Wisconsin has yet to announce who will start at quarterback when it opens against Massachusetts on Aug. 31. The Badgers were ranked 115th nationally in passing last season. So whoever takes over behind center, whether it is Joel Stave or Curt Phillips, will be expected to perform at a higher level than the stable of quarterbacks Wisconsin used a year ago.

Jared Abbrederis, the Badgers’ leading receiver a year ago, will return as a fifth-year senior in 2013. He sees the receiving corps taking a huge leap in the upcoming campaign, which should help whoever is throwing the ball.

“Last year, some guys got in and were able to make some plays,” Abbrederis said during Big Ten media day on July 25. “There’s a lot of talent. I think this year everybody will see that. Last year was more a rebuilding year, getting people involved and getting those first year jitters out of the way.”

Several pundits have pegged Ohio State as the odds on favorite to represent the Leaders division in the Big Ten championship, and some have even gone as far as to predict the Buckeyes will play in the BCS National Championship.

The Badgers are used to being omitted from large-scale predictions, so they have no issue entering this season just like any other.

“You can’t really pay attention to all the media,” White said. “We’ll just go out there and work hard. We’re overlooked pretty much every season, so we still approach it the same way. We know the goal we have for the end of the season.”


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