The Wisconsin Badgers are facing off against the Buffalo Bulls in four days, marking the true start of head coach Luke Fickell’s era in Madison, which has been prefaced with significant buzz ahead of Week 1.
How is the team handling the excitement around the program ahead of the first week of the season?
Speaking with the media as a part of his weekly pressers, head coach Luke Fickell shared the unique nature behind Week 1 in college football, given there’s no true preseason or any live action to help the team prepare.
“I mean, game one is so unique in college football with the time that you spend, you know, preparing for one game and never having a scrimmage of any sorts or anything where you do anything with anybody else,” Fickell said. “So, Week 1 is always incredibly intriguing. I think obviously, in Year 1, it’s even more so.”
Fickell compared the Badgers’ situation with a Christmas morning, given the anxiety and excitement around the situation.
“For me, for all of our players, I kind of said this morning, it’s almost like Christmas morning. You’re preparing for a lot of things,” Fickell said. “There’s a lot of anxieties, you’re excited about it, but yet there’s a lot of things that you just don’t know from each other. So for all of us involved, it’s an exciting time. I’m kind of excited, too, to actually get to Saturday, we’re not ready.”
However, in looking to get on the field and actually play, Fickell doesn't want to take the week’s preparation for granted, although there is an inherent desire to finally experience that Week 1 feeling.
“That not saying we’re trying to push the whole week by, but just to feel the buzz, to be in the stadium to all the things that you think you remember from the times of playing here until the first time, of really playing here and recognizing some of those things,” Fickell said. “I know for me, that’s one of those things that’s on my list.”
The focus will absolutely be on the Buffalo Bulls for Fickell, but it’ll be a new experience for the head coach, who will get to see the Badgers’ fans at Camp Randall Stadium for the first time on this side after facing Wisconsin as a member of the Ohio State Buckeyes, both as a player and when on the staff.
“I won’t take much time to probably look around and enjoy it by any means,” Fickell said. “But the excitement, the buzz, the feeling curious to see how our students show up, if we can try to find a way, I heard, to get them in a little bit earlier and start this thing off the right way. It is a 230 kick, so it shouldn’t be that early for him. So hoping that maybe there’s some newness to getting some things maybe adjusted up a little bit, that’s a suggestion from our players.”
“But I think, all in all, it’s just that ability to really be excited about it.”
What is Fickell looking for from his squad in Week 1? Clean football, identifying well pre and post-snap, and tackling.
“In my mind, for you guys, what does Saturday look like again? For us, it’s about being able to play clean in Week One. That’s the things you kind of study, right? The ability to play clean,” Fickell said. “Those pre and post-snap situations to take care of the football offensively and defensively if you have an opportunity to have it.”
“And then your ability to tackle with things that you don’t get a chance to do nearly as much in all of fall camp, never having a scrimmage of any sorts in college football that first week, those are the things that kind of will leave me in particular laying awake a little bit on Friday night. Just that picture of being clean, that picture of taking care of the football, that picture of tackling really well in Week One.”
The Badgers are currently a 27.5-point favorite against Buffalo, according to DraftKings Sportsbook, and will finally step back on the field on Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium.