Wisconsin Badgers Coaches Deserve Credit for 2nd Half Performances

Andrew CoppensContributor INovember 1, 2013

Oct 19, 2013; Champaign, IL, USA;  Wisconsin Badgers head coach Gary Andersen congratulates his team after a touchdown against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Memorial Stadium. Wisconsin wins 56-32 over Illinois. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowksi-USA TODAY Sports
Trevor Ruszkowksi-USA TODAY Spor

When the Wisconsin Badgers are winning football games, they are winning them big, and a lot of the credit for that goes to how they come out of halftime. 

In Wisconsin's seven games this season, they've scored on six of its opening possessions of the second half. 

That's a good way to put yourself on the path to victory—especially when you consider that the Badgers lone game where they didn't score to open the second half was in the loss to Ohio State. 

Once or twice may be a coincidence, but doing it time and again is no accident. 

The performance of the defense may be even more impressive, as they haven't given up a single point to an opposing team on its opening possession of the half. 

So what is the "magic" for the Badgers? 

It is all in the ability to prepare well during the week and make the smart adjustments off that game plan. 

Oct 19, 2013; Champaign, IL, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Joel Stave (2) passes the ball in the third quarter of the game against the Illinois Fighting Illini  at Memorial Stadium. Wisconsin wins 56-32 over Illinois. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkow
Trevor Ruszkowksi-USA TODAY Spor

Shocking revelation, right?

A lot of the credit needs to go to the coaching staff, and coordinators Andy Ludwig (offense) and Dave Aranda (defense) specifically, for the adjustments and attitude they bring to the locker room at the half. 

Yet what they do isn't some magical formula after all. Instead, they just keep it simple and let the players execute their instructions. 

When you have 26 seniors like the Badgers have, it shouldn't be surprising that adjustments are easier to make.

Those players have responded very well out of the half, not just in scoring but in pure numbers, too. 

According to Tom Mulhern of the Wisconsin State Journal, quarterback Joel Stave has gone 9-of-11 for 172 yards and three touchdowns in first drives of the second half so far this season. 

He isn't the only one with great efficiency, either, as running back Melvin Gordon has an 80-yard touchdown run and 17 carries for 182 yards (10.7 average) on those first drives of the half as well. 

Yes, it's about players executing on the field, but it's also about coaches poking and prodding the opposition to figure out what is working/could work the rest of the game. 

That's where the veteran leadership of Ludwig and Aranda come in to play. 

Both have managed to keep the opposition guessing and stopping what was going wrong in the first half. 

Wisconsin has scored on single-play drives to open the half twice this season, with Stave hitting wide receiver Jared Abbrederis for a 65-yard touchdown in the opener against UMass and the 80-yard Melvin Gordon touchdown mentioned above. 

They've also pounded out drives as well, going 68 yards or more on three of the seven opening second half drives this season. 

It goes to show that coach Ludwig has full confidence in his entire offense, and he doesn't just have a one trick pony in the run game. 

Defensively, the Badgers have forced the opposition to three-and-outs in five games and have given up a total of just four first downs on opening drives. 

That's just not giving up points; that's dominating the opposition out of the gate in the second half. 

If you want to know why the Badgers are winning more games than they are losing, look towards the tunnel at the half, because that's where the magic occurs. 


*Andy Coppens is the lead writer for the Big Ten. You can follow him on Twitter: @ andycoppens