Wisconsin football notebook: Gary Andersen talks offensive line, special teams and Tennessee Tech

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Gary Andersen spoke to the media for the first time since the victory over UMass Saturday. He spoke about the play of his offensive line, the areas of special teams that concern him moving forward and what to expect this weekend against Tennessee Tech.

After capturing his first victory as head coach of the Wisconsin Badgers, Gary Andersen sat down to reflect on the weekend that was, and give insight into what the future holds for his team.

Andersen mentioned in the press conference that true freshman running back Austin Ramesh will be activated for this week after Derek Watt went down with an injury in the UMass game.  Andersen said that Derek Straus "did some good things" in Watt's absence on Saturday.

Offensive line proves its strength

The running game got all of the attention this past weekend as the Badgers had three backs rush for over 100-yards for the second time in their past three games (Big Ten Championship Game last December), but a majority of the credit should be thrown in the direction of the offensive line, and in particular Ryan Groy.

"The big thing is that there was movement on the offensive line, and there was consistent blocking," Andersen said. "Ryan Groy did as good of a job as I've ever seen coming around the power play and hitting the next level; he was tremendous at it."

As for improvements with the line, Andersen is hoping that those five can get their pad levels down a little bit because then it will help move the line of scrimmage even more.

Andersen added that if the line blocks as well as it did, and the running backs run like they did last week, then the Badgers are going to be a pretty good team moving forward.

Special teams

"Our special teams needs to improve," Andersen said. Short, sweet, and to the point.

More specifically, Andersen believes that the Badgers need to improve on their kickoff coverage because while some may view UMass getting the ball at the 25- or 26-yard line nearly every time as a success, it does you no good when you just have one guy making a tackle.

"It means that they were just one broken tackle away from being a huge play, and that will hurt us and that will haunt us," Andersen said.

Punt coverage was also something that Andersen mentioned needs working on between now and Tennessee Tech. The Badgers cannot afford to put the ball on the ground three times on punt returns, like they did against UMass, because if they do not address it then, as Andersen put it, "we'll all be sitting in here with a loss one day."

The Badgers need to get their punt coverage figured out before Saturday because Ladarius Vanlier returned a punt 93-yards for a touchdown in the Golden Eagles' 63-7 win over Cumberland last week.

As for other areas that concerned the first-year Badgers head coach, "Our PAT field goal protection had some definite leakage in it," Andersen said. "It's our fault as coaches, and we need to coach it better, but our technique was not good enough and in some of those scenarios [UMass] did not take advantage of it, but it's on film and teams will take advantage of it now."

Tennessee Tech

Andersen says that the Golden Eagle's offense is wide open and that they, "have some kids that can run." As, what Andersen calls a "true spread offense," Tech gives opposing defenses all that they can handle.

What's important about playing the spread offense of Tennessee Tech is that it gives the Badgers some preparation for offenses like Arizona State, Northwestern, and Ohio State that they will see down the road. More specifically, Tech's quarterback, Darian Stone, could give the Badgers extra practice needed to stop Braxton Miller when they travel to Columbus on September 28.

"He is a dual-threat quarterback," Andersen said of Stone, "and they run the ball with the option threat and with the true quarterback run play. It's very difficult to defend, you have to be on guard, and it will be good preparation for us, but we're not worried about defending the future, we're worried about defending these guys."

Quick hits:

-- While Sam Arneson and Jacob Pedersen combined for 40 percent of the Badger's receptions on Saturday, Andersen said that he and offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig plan on utilizing the tight ends more in the passing game going forward.

"We're looking to get the tight ends more involved in the throw game as we move forward and we're excited about that opportunity," Andersen said, "so that's definitely worth noting."

-- Ryan Groy believes that the offensive line will be the best looking group come Saturday as the Badgers sport their new alternate red helmets.

"I think we'll look the best in the red helmets," Groy said. "We just have a great looking group with a couple of good mustaches."

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