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Clinic Talk: Wisconsin Badgers Offense Preview

The Badgers are known for running the football

Big Ten Championship - Ohio State v Wisconsin Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Miami Hurricanes will face the Wisconsin Badgers on December 30th in the Orange Bowl. The Badgers run-oriented offense is ranked 44th in the S&P+ rankings from Bill C. Offensive Coordinator Joe Rudolph has a history with the Badgers, having served both as a player and assistant coach at Wisconsin-Madison. Rudolph’s experience has come in pro style offenses at Ohio State, Nebraska, Pitt, and Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin roster has three fullbacks and seven tight ends. In comparison, the Miami roster has four fullbacks and five tight ends. Now the difference in the percentage of time the ‘Canes line up with multiple tight ends or even a fullback at all pales in comparison to the Badgers.

Alex Hornibrook is the quarterback for the Badgers. He’s thrown for 2100 passing yards with 21 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He has thrown for 8.4 yards per attempt but he’s also turnover prone. The star is freshman tailback Jonathan Taylor. He’s ran for 1800 yards on 6.5 yards per carry adding 13 touchdowns. Taylor is a 5’11 215lbs rookie back from Salem, NJ. Senior tight end Troy Fumagalli leads the team in receptions with 43. He adds 516 yards and 4 touchdowns to the offensive output.

Here are a few formations and personnel groups the Badgers like to use.


Fullback and Nasty Splits

This is the kind of formation we’ve come to know Wisconsin for. They use a fullback type player, employ nasty splits or tight splits for the wide receiver to the offensive line. This forces teams to either tighten up and stack the box, or stay wide in case WR’s wheel this leaving running lanes.


Spread Looks

At times, the Badgers would use spread looks. Here, they have a tight end with his hand down but also three receivers out to the other side and one back. The Badgers will try to spread out defenses and let the Hornibrook, a southpaw, sling the ball around but he’s been turnover prone. I can see the Badgers looking to wide out their splits (the space between the offensive linemen) and add gaps by using tight ends and winged h-backs against Miami forcing the Hurricanes to play a Big 10 type of football game.


Nasty Splits and Wings

The Badgers love the nasty splits but also here they use two “tight ends” lined up in an H-Back type role as a wing. This gives Wisconsin a 12 personnel look for Jonathan Taylor and creates more gaps for the Iowa defense. The H-Backs being hidden behind the receivers also makes them deadly in the play-action passing game. They’re harder to see and if the safeties are keying on the H-Backs they can slip behind the offensive line and become short gain receivers.


12 Personnel Nasty and Wings

Another great look at what 12 personnel can do to a defense. This is the Michigan defense and we know how well they’re coached. There’s a giant bubble for the Badgers to run through (orange) and you can see just how many gaps this type of scheme creates. That causes the defense to not only have to play more men in the box, but what alignments will the defense use? Do you play your defensive tackles head up on the guards like Michigan did here? Or do you keep a defensive tackle over the center to disrupt his snap and make him snap and block?


Wrap

How will Miami line-up? That’s yet to be seen as every time I make that assumption I seem wrong. I can see Miami running with five defensive lineman because Trent Harris has the speed to stand up and the strength to play in the run game. The typical looks with multiple cornerbacks won’t be necessary against Wisconsin. The linebackers will have to step up big and can’t over run plays or stall on their reads.