Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Defensive system changes are coming

I read a bunch of quotes from UW defensive coordinator Dave Aranda in this WSJ article today entitled Badgers football: Goal of defense is to be smaller, faster

I have shared my concerns about the changes in the UW coaching staff and their plans for the team, and this article did little to alleviate those concerns. According to the article Anderson and Aranda played to the teams talent last year (big and strong guys), but plan to play smaller and faster this year. I had hoped after having success on offense and defense last season the coaches would refrain from the drastic changes they hinted at when they took over at UW. This does not appear to be the case, at least on defense.

My concern is not that a scheme with small fast guys can't beat a team with bigger and stronger guys. There are many ways to play good defense. With the emergence of spread offenses the need for more mobile players has become wide spread. The days of the badgers playing 250lbs inside linebackers who can barely run hash to hash, let alone sideline to sideline is long gone. Every year Alvarez and Beilema teams seemed to get faster at linebacker, but stayed big in the defensive line.

There is a good reason UW has had a system that plays 4 big linemen, rarely blitzes, and plays a lot of bend don't break zone over the last 2 coaching regimes. That reason is recruiting. While UW has improved it's recruiting vastly, home state recruiting in WI is still the base. Of the players on the spring roster, 45 of the 86 are from WI. In order to play man to man and blitz you need fast corners who can cover. WI doesn't produce many of those guys. Of the 17 DBs on the spring roster only 6 are from WI. WI is good at producing big strong physical linemen on both sides of the ball, not so great at producing athletes.

This change only works if UW can recruit enough athletes to run the system. If it fails we will have to watch several years of teams doing to UW what UW has done to others for years, stuffing the ball up the middle and knowing it can't be stopped. Winning football starts with running the ball and stopping the run.

While I am not a fan of the Anderson system, I am a fan of Anderson, so I hope this change works out. I just have an eerie feeling I will be able to gloat about being right 4 years from now, but won't enjoy it because I've had to watch UW get run over yet again.

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