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Badger Bits: Wisconsin's Offense Won't Repeat the Mistakes of Yesteryear

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Wisconsin players say they won't repeat their mistakes after failing to mesh with last year's offensive coaching staff. Do we believe them?

Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

It's funny what a bad coaching fit looks like in print during that coach's tenure, and after. In fall camp of last year, Tom Mulhern wrote an article that, in hindsight, was a pretty masterful tiptoe around the mesh issues Mike Markuson was having. Still, it's pretty clear that problems existed from the start. Quote:

"Any time you have change on the staff, particularly a guy who these guys had been around a while, it's difficult," Markuson said. "A new personality, a new way of saying things. It takes time."

Markuson went through similar situations in his first year at previous stops. But the roots here run so deep, with so much success, it's only natural to expect some resistance.

"You go home and you wonder if you're reaching them or not," he said of the spring. "Are they listening, are they really buying into what you're telling them?"

Just under eight months later, what Mulhern wrote then as "some resistance" is now recognized as a "near mutiny" that led to Markuson's firing just after the Oregon State game. Matt Canada also reportedly dealt with pushback, despite the improvement of his offense late in the the season. Players may not have helped matters by being reluctant to adapt to new concepts. They say (those who were asked, anyway) that they learned valuable lessons to make this year's transition much smoother.

When Groy was asked if he noticed a resistance to change last season, he nodded his head emphatically.

"Absolutely, no doubt," Groy said. "That's what's helping this year. Last year was hard coming in, once you know something so well, to be told something else is better. It's tough to believe.

"This year, we know we have to accept whatever they bring at us, no matter what it is. If coach A said, ‘We're going to run the spread,' we've got to lose some weight (in the line) and get with the spread."

If you read between the lines during the spring and summer last year, you might have been able to foresee the debacle that was coming. So far under Gary Andersen, there hasn't been any indication that the current crop of players lack any cohesiveness with the coaching staff. Whether that's a result of better diplomacy or if the transition really has been incredibly smooth is unclear. Curt Phillips said that Andy Ludwig's offense is very similar to Paul Chryst's, so perhaps that helps. After last season, however, Wisconsin fans are understandably skeptical of what they read.

But so far so good. Or at least, I think.

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