Bret Bielema: Bold or cautious?

Football coaches everywhere would tell you that they never want to see penalties and they always want to win the turnover battle.

Still, some coaches place more of an emphasis on limiting mistakes than others and the amount of mistakes a team makes is often a direct reflection of their coach's coaching philosophy.

Are they aggressive? Are they cautious? How many chances will a coach take in a game?

Some coaches are very conservative. Others are downright reckless.

So where does Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema fall under all this?

I wouldn't say Bielema has ever been aggressive, but early on in his career he seemed to take more chances. As a result, he often committed mistakes as a coach, especially when it came down to time management.

Since 2008, however, Bielema has learned a lot and has placed a greater emphasis on limiting mistakes. As a result, he has made less mistakes and his players have made less mistakes.

That's not to say he doesn't make some bold calls every once in a while. His decision to fake a punt deep inside his own territory at Iowa may have saved the Badgers' Rose Bowl dreams last season. But that was a calculated risk and not a desperate decision.

Bielema and his staff discovered a gaping hole in Iowa's punt return unit on tape and pretty much knew Brad Nortman was going to have at least 15 free yards to run with the football as soon as he tucked it.

This again happened in the Rose Bowl against TCU. While it certainly wasn't as smooth, Nortman was once again able to tuck the football and gain the first down.

While these calls by Bielema may have been well thought out and planned, they were still extremely bold, gutsy calls. If the fake punt at Iowa had not worked out, the Hawkeyes would have had the ball already in field goal range with a six point lead. Game over.

And while the fake punt in the Rose Bowl occurred in the second quarter, TCU was moving the ball relatively well at that point in the game and already had a 14-10 lead. They would have had good field position if the fake punt failed and could have opened up a two-score lead.

The bottom-line is that Wisconsin has a careful coach who is not afraid to take chances when they are necessary, but he has also shown recently that he won't take those chances unless they are well thought out and planned ahead of time.

It's hard to complain about that coaching mentality. 

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