Earlier this week we began to ask our full staff here at MadTownBadgers to look into the future and predict some of the biggest questions surrounding Wisconsin football as they head into the opening of camp next week. We began by asking about the chances for a four-peat for the Badgers this coming season.
Today we tackle the tacklers… That is we look at the new look 3-4 defense Wisconsin will be playing. Can it be a success in year one or will the transition take some time? What about the fact that UW is the only school in the Big Ten playing that formation as their base defense?
Let's let the staff have it, shall we?
Andy Coppens: If you look at who made up the defensive end positions at Wisconsin over the past few seasons they were undersized and pass rushing specialists for the most part. Brendan Kelly has played a stand up role in the past, so he should be very comfortable in that role in the new scheme. The only question for me is just how athletic the defensive backfield is. Their ability to play in tighter man-to-man coverage is going to hold a big key to the success of this group and from what little we saw of the base D in the spring I'd say they'll be just fine back there. Personally, I think that Wisconsin being the only 3-4 defense in the Big Ten is a massive advantage and it's something I've written about in the past while previewing the Big Ten for Crystal Ball Run earlier this summer. Forcing opposing offenses to look at something they haven't seen all season long is a massive advantage and it puts them in reaction mode instead of the defense for a change.
Paul Kilgas: The 3-4 defense will work in year one because it will require opposing teams to spend time during the week game-planning for the multiple fronts and angles that the defense is built upon, instead of allowing teams to prepare for the normal 4-3 that most teams run. It always seems to give linebackers a head start on attacking ball-carriers, since at least one linebacker is blitzing each play.
I also think that it matches up well with the teams that Wisconsin is facing. ASU, Ohio State, and Northwestern are likely to be the three best offenses that Wisconsin faces, and they’re all spread schemes. The 3-4 spreads the linebackers out more to begin with, and linebackers are almost always faster and more versatile than the extra DT that would be on the field. The 3-4 should also work well against lesser offenses because it creates more confusion than a 4-3 does, and bad offenses are usually bad because they are unable to recognize and adapt to what the defense is doing in the first place.
Arman Belding: I think it does work, largely because the necessary personnel are already there. Beau Allen is perfectly built to be a nose tackle, and there are enough speedy playmakers to hold the outside linebacker positions. Furthermore, there's a tremendous amount of veterans and leadership on the D this year, which tells me that the players will be smart enough to adapt to the new techniques. As far as other Big Ten teams playing against Wisconsin, I'm confident it will keep them on their toes. DC Dave Aranda is an aggressive play-caller who keeps things interesting by regularly changing his blitz packages. Opposing offenses won't know where to look for pass rushers, and hopefully, will be kept off balance enough to result in frequent TFL's for the Badger D.