–submitted by Linda Maremont; photo by Pete Christianson
UW Football Head Coach Gary Andersen was greeted warmly by a large audience to our August 13 meeting. After a successful first season in 2013 (with a winning record of 9-4), Andersen and the players were thrilled to finally officially begin preparations for a season that will begin August 30 against LSU in Houston. The team is wrapping up a 13-day stretch in which UW will practice every day.
Coach Andersen emphasized the youth of the team this season, but still intends to stay with the physical style of football for which Wisconsin is known. Even though Andersen mentioned that he will be started more true freshmen than in previous years, he is confident that they are up for the challenge. He believes that the biggest challenge facing them will not be the physical size difference that comes along with starting younger players but the experience in a competitive environment. These players are lucky to be on the “good guy” side of the ball as Camp Randall has been recently ranked the most intimidating college stadium in the country by ESPN. However when it comes time to travel to Texas to play LSU, the young players’ poise will truly be tested. The coach spent a fair amount of time discussing how the team, more specifically the offensive and defensive lines, are developing. It is apparent that he knows what is most important and what needs to be emphasized for the Wisconsin run heavy style of play to be successful.
He has a deep love for his team that extends beyond just basic football. Wisconsin has been and will continue to be one of the top ranked schools in terms of athlete academics. Coach Andersen noted the team’s average GPA is nearing 3.0, which is impressive for a team at a top ranked university. The fact that not a single player who graduated last year came back to ask for a position on Coach Andersen’s staff is a testament to how important academics are to the football program and the University as a whole.
Coach Andersen delivered an excellent speech that calmed some fears and excited the fans in the audience about the season to come. When asked about how it feels to coach his son, Coach Andersen responded that he treats every player like his son–which earns him respect along with forming a bond of trust between him and his players.
Coach Andersen’s remarks gave testament to his passion for the game, his team and his excitement to be part of UW and Madison. On Wisconsin!
We thank WisconsinEye for videotaping our meeting this week. CLICK to watch the video.