After becoming the first head coach since 1949 to win via shutout in his first game with a new team, Gary Andersen hopes to build on the success of last week's 45-0 dismissal of UMass as the Badgers play host to the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles 11 a.m. Saturday at Camp Randall.
As for Tech, it will be starting its seventh campaign under head coach Watson Brown, the older brother of Texas head football coach Mack Brown. Tech has experienced considerable success under Brown; the Golden Eagles have won two of the past three Ohio Valley Conference titles and have their sights set on three of four after a disappointing 3-8 (1-7) 2012 season.
While the Badgers prepare for their second foe of the season, here are three tidbits of information that Badgers fans ought to keep in mind about the opposition.
Mirror images of each other?
Tech finds itself in a similar situation as the Badgers after all but obliterating their opening week opponent, Cumberland, 63-7 and chalking the largest margin of victory for a season-opener in program history in the process.
The parallels between these two programs do not stop there, however, as both Wisconsin and Tennessee Tech have similar offensive philosophies: Pound The Rock.
Consider these statistics from last week's game: 505 total yards of offense -- 323 rushing; only 179 total yards allowed; six receivers caught at least one pass; and nine players ran the ball at least once. Looks like bullet notes after a Badgers game? Yes. Are they? No. That was all Golden Eagles.
Tech ran the ball 46 times compared to just 12 passing attempts, racked up 26 first downs and didn't turn the ball over once last week. Now sure, some of that could be because they were up 63-0 with 10 minutes to go in the game, but the Golden Eagles still believe in running the ball first and moving down the field by picking up first downs and not just letting it fly.
Oh, and who is the Golden Eagles' do-it-all player, you ask? Why, household name Ladarius Vanlier, of course. The 5-foot-7, 165-pound running back scampered for a 52-yard touchdown and, just four minutes later, returned a punt 93-yards for his second score of the day. If you're wondering why I mention Vanlier, it's because the Golden Eagles' No. 3 is a lot like the Badgers' No. 3, Kenzel Doe. The 5-foot-8, 171-pound punt-returner/wide receiver will no doubt be seeing his lookalike when Vanlier takes the field Saturday.
It's fair to say that the Badgers will be going up against their Ohio Valley Conference equivalent on Saturday.
Sharing the wealth
Where Tennessee Tech differs from Wisconsin is in the fact that it doesn't have a Jared Abbrederis. The Golden Eagles don't have one key guy that opposing defenses can try to zone in on with hopes of destroying the offense.
After their victory over Cumberland on Thursday night, head coach Watson Brown told the media:
"If we're going to beat you, we're going to beat you as a team. You don't see a star that just sticks out that has to be our guy. That goes through number five (QB Darian Stone) here through the whole offense. Anybody can touch it and make a play. We've got to beat you that way. We're not going to beat you with just one guy."
As stated earlier, the Golden Eagles had nine players rush the ball, six players catch the balls and eight different players combine on scoring plays. That's no coincidence, either. Last season, Tech had six players record 45 or more carries and six record 10 or more receptions. To put that into perspective, not only did no Big Ten team have that type of balance last year, but only Minnesota, Purdue and Illinois had four players or more carry the rock 45 or more times.
The Badgers' new 3-4 defense will without question have a tougher time Saturday in keeping the Golden Eagles' offense out of the end zone than it did in the shutout of UMass.
A sign of things to come
When the Badgers head to Columbus at the end of this month to take on Ohio State, they may owe Tennessee Tech a thank you note if they are able to contain Braxton Miller.
Golden Eagles junior quarterback Darian Stone is no Braxton Miller. Don't get me wrong. What he is, however, is a dual-threat quarterback who is more comfortable using his legs than he is his arm. In the win over Cumberland, Stone was 8-of-11 with two touchdowns through the air, and he also picked up 31 yards on eight carries with two additional touchdowns.
Stone, who only played in nine games last season, led the team in rushing attempts (89), rushing yards (533), rushing yards per game (61.4) and average yards per rush (6.2). While he only scored one rushing touchdown last season, Stone's two scores on the ground in last week's dismantling of Cumberland could be a sign that he is finding a nose for the end zone in his second year as starter.
In last year's meeting at Camp Randall, the Badgers held Miller to just 48 yards on 23 carries, and although they have since changed defensive philosophies, Chris Borland and the experience of the Badgers' front seven have seen their fair share of dual-threat quarterbacks and have had much success for the most part in dealing with them.
Gary Andersen and defensive coordinator Dave Aranda are sure to use this game as a blueprint for how they are going to try and contain Miller Sept. 28.
As was the case last week, it is extremely unlikely that the Badgers will have any trouble getting by Tennessee Tech. What is key for the Badgers this week is to lay the groundwork for the rest of the season, which continues with a tough road test against Arizona State in Week 3.