From the Far Hash: Wisconsin Badgers Edition
This week, the Packers are on bye and the Wisconsin Badgers have a very exciting match up in Columbus, Ohio, against The Ohio State Buckeyes.
So, I decided to break down some new wrinkles that new Wisconsin offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig has installed in this year’s offensive machine. After watching the Badgers beat down Purdue last week, as well as the loss to the PAC 12 refs two weeks ago, I have a good idea for some neat packaged plays the Badgers are running.
This year, the Badgers have made it a point of emphasis to keep both of their most dynamic play makers, James White and Melvin Gordon, on the field at the same time.
Last year, James White was not the featured back because of this one dude named Montee Ball. Melvin Gordon was an excellent change up back who was known for his jet sweeps. Just ask Nebraska if they are still having nightmares of Gordon’s sweeps during the Big 10 Championship Game.
Things are a little different this year. For starters, Montee Ball is now running in Denver. But, some of the staples are back.
First, one of their favorite run plays in the inside zone.
Second, they still use Gordon in a jet-sweep-like play, but it’s not a pure jet sweep. A jet sweep is when the slot receiver or wing back comes in motion pre-snap and then intersects the quarterback and takes the ball around the edge. This was Gordon’t bread and butter last year. So, teams are looking for it. This year, they are disguising that play concept.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the Badgers packaged plays when White and Gordon are on the field together. In the pictures below, #2 is Rico Stave, #20 is James White, and #25 is Melvin Gordon.
One of their base formations is to have James White as the lone back and Melvin Gordon as a wing back. He’s not a true slot receiver because he’s tighter to the formation. See below.
Out of this formation, the Badgers have two play tendencies. The first is their bread and butter inside zone run. The offensive line blocks down, opening up lanes for White to run through. White will read the lanes, put his foot down, and cut through the best opening. See below.
The next play tendency is to utilize Gordon as the wing back. It has the functional equivalency of his famous jet sweep from last year, but maintains the other running concept the Badgers love — the stretch play. The offensive line blocks down, White secures the edge, and Gordon runs parallel to the line of scrimmage behind his offensive line. Once he reaches the edge, he plays his leverage and picks the best available angle and lane to turn it up field. See below.
During the off season, we heard all the doubters say that Gordon can’t run between the tackles. This inanity was probably based off the fact of his jet sweep success. Utter foolishness. Gordon has shown this season is very accomplished between the tackles.
In another formation, Gordon lines up as the lone running back and White lines up as a true slot. See below.
In this formation, The Badgers utilize Gordon in their bread and butter — the inside zone run. The concepts are all the same as when White runs it. Pick your poison, defenses. See below.
This formation with White in the slot is also an excellent passing formation. White is a very accomplished receiver, and they specifically try to isolate him in space and let him do his thing — make tacklers miss.
The Badgers like to give White a short option route out of the slot. Depending on the coverage, he can run a short vertical or a quick slant. See below.
The next play is to throw a screen pass to White out of the slot. The play side guard and tackle will cheat out into space, forming a wall for White to run behind. White will run his pattern behind this line. See below.
These are just a few of the concepts the Badgers are using to keep both White and Gordon on the field at the same time. This is certainly an exciting time for the Badgers because this dynamic duo has shown time and time again that they are capable of ripping off yardage and taking the ball to the house on any given play.
It’s kind of like those new Ford commercials you see. You don’t have to pick sweet or sour pork. You get sweet and sour pork. And is better. In the case of the Badgers, the personnel groupings don’t have to choose between White or Gordon. They get both.
And is better.
And, it’s fun to watch.