After securing the services of senior transfer QB Russell Wilson, the Badgers had very high hopes for this year. Wilson played himself into early Heisman conversation as they started 6-0. Unfortunately, it was back to back weeks at the end of October that would end Wisconsin’s hopes of a National Title run as Kirk Cousins and Braxton Miller broke the hearts of Badger fans with 40+ yard passes at the end of games. After those two losses, Wisconsin would win five straight games including a destruction of Penn State and a win over Michigan State in a re-match for the Big Ten Championship. Montee Ball was big down the stretch as he finished the year with six straight 100 yard games and got a trip to New York for the Heisman ceremony as a reward. Wisconsin lost a shoot-out to Oregon 45-38 in the Rose Bowl but finished with their third straight double-digit win season. We caught up with one of the newest Bloguin blogs Madtown Badgers to get their take on the 2011 season and get a quick glimpse into 2012.
CFBZ: Wisconsin got a lot of press for bringing in Russell Wilson to play QB this season. Now that his one year is up, who takes over at QB?
Andy: Wow, um…. ya, you’re guess is as good as mine at this point. Our two most known quantities are Curt Phillips and Jon Budmayr, however both are coming off of injuries and in both cases we don’t even know if they will be around for 2012.
Phillips is coming off of his 3rd ACL surgery as a Badger and Budmayr hasn’t been able to throw or grip a football since the start of training camp this past fall. The backup to Wilson was Joe Brennan and he really didn’t show much, nor did he really have to in mop up duty of blowout wins for us.
The most intriguing guy currently on the roster is Redshirt Freshman Joel Stave, who was a walk on last year but really popped in the Spring game. All indications are that he really did a great job as the scout team QB and could be poised to have a great Spring.
We do bring in one of the nations top QB recruits in Bart Houston and I have a feeling with the crop of players ahead of him he’ll be given every chance to win the starting job out of the gates. The question is can he pick up the offense of whoever is the OC and can he adjust to the speed of the game quick enough to allow him to become the starter from day one.
CFBZ: OC Paul Chryst has gone to Pitt to take on that challenge and has taken three assistants with him. How big of an impact do you see this having on the Badgers?
Andy: Losing Chryst will have a big impact just because of how good of a coach he is. However, Wisconsin is at the point right now where it’s really a “destination” spot for coaches. Who wouldn’t want to come somewhere knowing you’ve been to back to back Rose Bowls and the coaching staff’s have been known to help get you up the ladder so to speak?
Of course that all hinges on who comes in to replace Chryst and the guys that are gone. Anytime you have to replace all but one of your offensive assistants of course there will be some adjustment period, but that’s what Spring ball and training camp are all for. I have complete faith that we’ll be just fine as Bielema is the guy that hired the now departed coaches to begin with.
CFBZ: What is the lasting memory you will have of this season?
Andy: The lasting memory of this season is unfortunately a bad one, and it’s the 2 Hail Mary throws by Michigan State and Ohio State to beat us. It will always be a season of what could have been for Badgers fans. Realistically this was our best shot at a National Title game appearance and with how the season played out it’s frustrating knowing 2 plays made all the difference in playing against Oregon or vs. LSU.
CFBZ: Heading into the off-season what are the biggest concerns about this team for 2012?
Andy: The biggest concern about this team in 2012 is how they will adjust to all the changes around this program. We’ve lost our starting QB, 3 starting Offensive Lineman, 4 of 5 offensive assistants, and our linebackers coach.
Of those the one that may hinder us the most is the lack of a clear cut person to take over at the QB position. Thankfully whomever it is may not be counted on like Wilson was this year with Montee Ball coming back and the crop of guys behind him the running game should and will be the focal point of the 2012 Badgers offense regardless of the person that takes over as OC.
CFBZ: Wisconsin has won double digit games three years in a row and has gone to the Rose Bowl twice in a row. Is the expectation now that Wisconsin will be in the Rose Bowl every year?
Andy: I think that the Badgers faithful expect us to be competing to go to the Rose Bowl every year and that’s a fair expectation for where this program is at. We need to see a win in that game or another BCS game before we can say it’s an every year expectation though.
CFBZ: Bonus Question: What do you think of the Urban Meyer hire and what does it mean for Wisconsin?
Andy: The Urban Meyer hire at OSU certainly puts another twist on what’s quickly becoming one of the best rivalries in the Big Ten. The biggest impact it will have on Wisconsin is in recruiting. They’ve been able to pull some really great players from that state (Chris Borland comes to mind) and the recruiting war for Kyle Dodson in this offseason is a huge storyline, although I have a feeling with the changing coaching staff here we may end up losing him. But Meyer’s hiring had an immediate impact on Dodson who was a solid verbal to the Badgers before his hire and shortly after he opened things back up.
I think it’s a great hire for OSU and it should make for some very, very good matchups at the top of the Leaders division for years to come.
Thanks for the opportunity to answer these questions and if you want to check out more of what we have to offer please visit us at www.madtownbadgers.com or follow us on twitter @MTBadgers and as always… ON WISCONSIN!
Previous 2011 Exit Surveys
Pac-12- Oregon State Beavers