Big Ten: Robert Turbin
December, 21, 2012
By Adam Rittenberg | ESPN.com
MADISON, Wis. -- Like his predecessors at Wisconsin, Gary Andersen's coaching background is rooted in defense, but he knows a good offense when he sees one.
Despite Wisconsin's early season struggles on offense, Andersen recalled Friday how he spent "all summer long" trying to prepare Utah State's defense for the Badger behemoths in a Sept. 15 game at Camp Randall Stadium. The first question he received at his introductory news conference concerned his vision for Wisconsin's offense, and he made it clear there will be no overhaul.
"This is the University of Wisconsin," Andersen said. "I've seen the young men walking around the hallways. I had an opportunity to sit down with a couple of the offensive linemen. I've seen the tight ends, I know the tradition of the running backs. ... We will be a power run team, we will use tight ends, we will use multiple sets and multiple formations.
"We'll be a football team that will be run-first. Our goal and our mind-set will be to wear you down."
That's all Wisconsin players and fans need to hear. There's little desire to change the pro-style, power-oriented system that set records the past two seasons -- Wisconsin ranked fifth and sixth nationally in scoring -- before enduring some transition this fall.
Andersen had used some spread elements at Utah State but pointed out that he has coached some standout running backs, among them Robert Turbin, the 2011 WAC Offensive Player of the Year who now plays for the Seattle Seahawks.
"I have been around three NFL backs the last two years at Utah State," Andersen said, "and that's because we run the football. I expect to be able to do the exact same thing here."
Andersen's vision for the offense resonates with players like Wisconsin sophomore right tackle Rob Havenstein, who, at 6-foot-8 and 342 pounds, certainly fits the current system.
"It definitely means a lot to me," Havenstein told ESPN.com. "I'm not the prototypical spread offensive lineman. I'm very glad to hear that, to keep what Wisconsin's doing well for the past couple years and just try to help him build off of that."
Havenstein notes that every coach has a different philosophy, and Andersen and his staff will put their own imprint on the offense. Andersen noted in his news conference how "a touch of option" will be part of the scheme as the option adds to a defense's challenge.
A source tells ESPN.com that Andersen will retain Wisconsin running backs coach Thomas Hammock, who has molded stars such as Montee Ball and John Clay. It's unlikely Andersen brings back offensive coordinator Matt Canada, who already accepted the same job at NC State and reportedly has a $500,000 buyout with the Wolf Pack. Could Hammock be in the mix for the coordinator job? We'll see.
"I will say this about the offensive coordinator," Andersen said. "When you're at the University of Wisconsin, it's a great job, it's not a good job, it's a great job. ... They'll line up a thousand deep, if you want them to. The key is to find the right guy to run this offense."
This much is known: It'll be a guy tasked to not mess with success.
BIG TEN SCOREBOARD
Final Penn State 14 Illinois 16 Final Indiana 27 6 Ohio State 42 Final 25 Minnesota 28 23 Nebraska 24 Final Northwestern 38 Purdue 14 Final Rutgers 3 11 Michigan State 45 Final 16 Wisconsin 26 Iowa 24 Final Maryland 23 Michigan 16