Is Wisconsin’s Offense Going Rogue The Rest of the Season?



The Badger fanbase is used to seeing Wisconsin football played a certain way. We all know what it looks like – pound the football, use play action and throw an occasional deep ball. Well, that could all be changing with the confirmation of Curt Phillips being the starting QB by head coach Bret Bielema on Thursday. 

What's got Badger Nation all abuzz this morning? Well, it was a single comment by Bielema at his press conference following Thursday's practice. 

On Monday Bielema made it pretty clear things weren't going to change no matter who the quarterback was going to be, but yesterday he sang a completely different tune.

"May not be a traditional Wisconsin offense, (we'll) do some different things but it's obviously something we're excited to see," said Bielema. 

According to Bielema Phillips has had the full support of his teammates and it's becoming clear that hasn't been the case for Danny O'Brien, who it appears has really lost some confidence. 

“I kind of said that all week,” Bielema said Thursday. “For our players and our coaches it’s a rally week. It’s a chance to rally around your starting quarterback. Offense, defense, special teams have all got to be a part of it.”

He also gave us anecdotal evidence of that being the case, talking about how players on both sides of the ball like to needle each other when bad plays go down in practice. However, for Phillips this week that wasn't the case.

When working on 3rd down sets in practice on Tuesday there was a dropped pass that normally would've gotten the defense all over Phillips and the rest of the offense and that's exactly what Bielema started to do, but the team responded differently. 

"I kind of got a little animated with the offense, wanted some things cleared up," said Bielema. "I'm standing right in the middle of it, all of the sudden, everybody, on both sides of the ball, yelling for Curt, for the receivers who were in there, for the offense to really play well."

Having said all of that, the biggest point of speculation, worry, and conjuncture is exactly what Bielema meant by his "May not be a traditional Wisconsin offense…" comment. 

Frankly your guess is as good as mine, but knowing what evidence we have of Phillips and of Matt Canada I'm guessing we're going to see something different in terms of how the running attack is played for the Badgers. Think back to last season when we saw a lot more shotgun from Wisconsin to use the skill set of Russell Wilson. 

If you put a gun to my head and made me tell you what I think Bielema meant by that earlier statement I would tell you I think you'll see more shotgun and more zone-read plays from Wisconsin's offense. That's something we've never seen from the Badgers before, but what it does is allow the Badgers to put their best weapons on the field at the same time and put them in situations to be as successful as possible. 

I also think you'll see this offense use a little more spread-like formations and I have a suspicion or two that it means a bigger role for Kenzel Doe who really does fit that system well – a speedy, smaller and elusive wide receiver that can play over the middle and at the line of scrimmage.

Truthfully, it only makes sense to do so. Canada's background is in more of the spread systems and Phillips has the ability to play in more of that environment versus being a straight drop back passer at this point in his career. 

Whatever the offensive look on Saturday it wouldn't shock me to see Danny O'Brien get some time behind center as well. Bielema hinted as much. All we can hope for is that we avoid the dreaded two headed QB monster. 

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Andrew Coppens

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He is the Managing Editor of MadTownBadger and associate editor of Bloguin's World Cup site, as well as Publisher of Big Ten site