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July 25, 2013Follow @JohnVeldhuis
CHICAGO - On the surface, Gary Andersen insists that he isn't going to change much about the Wisconsin Badgers. The Badgers may be shifting to a 3-4 defensive front, but their offense will likely look pretty similar to the versions Paul Chryst and Matt Canada drew up over the last few years. The Badgers are also recruiting their same traditional pipeline states, even if they're expanding into Utah and other states on the west coast.
But every head coach brings new ideas to their new school, even if the changes come on a smaller level. Under Andersen the Badgers started blasting music during their practices, and Andersen tries to keep practices shorter so that camp won't wear down his players. The players will also start singing the school fight song after every game and practice, and Andersen has also invited fans in to Camp Randall Stadium so they can watch his team scrimmage a few times during the fall.
The Badgers are also changing how they prepare for the season during the summer, when contact between the coaching staff and the team is limited. To work around that limitation Andersen and his staff gave the players videos and film clips with voice-overs that explain new offensive plays and the new 3-4 defense.
"We did that two years ago at Utah State, and it is a great teaching tool," Andersen said Thursday at the Big Ten media days. "You're watching the offense and the defense be put in, and it's a lot of time for the coaches and it's extensive for the film guys, but it's like a meeting."
Running back James White said he and other players learned a lot from the new video clips, which also included on-screen diagrams and allowed the coaches to draw images as if they were doing color commentary on a game.
"That helps out a lot, so you can hear what your coaches have to say as well as watch the film," White said Thursday. "It's a great help. It definitely does, especially for the young guys. They can get in there and learn the offense without having so much thrown at them during the first day of fall camp."
Linebacker Chris Borland said getting extra instruction from the coaches during the summer will pay off in the long run, especially on defense where the Badgers are making a bigger schematic shift. Borland said he thinks the team will be more prepared for the season when they open fall camp next month, and he expects the Badgers to master their new defense during camp.
White said the new videos should give incoming players like Corey Clement a boost, and that he wished the team used something like this when he came on to campus four years ago.
"[Young players] may not necessarily understand the offense, coming from an older player but a coach might explain it a little better," White said.
Andersen said the biggest drawback is that players can't ask the staff when they have a question about something on the tape, but he said the Badgers will really find out just how well the new videos worked when the Badgers open fall camp on Aug. 5.
"The key to that 'Is are the kids going to like it?'" Andersen said. "Are they going to buy in, and we'll see how well it worked when we take the field for the first time on August 5th. But it's a good tool and the coaches did a nice job with that."