Quotable: Wisconsin’s Gary Andersen on importance of defense

Wisconsin has found their new head coach, the defensive-minded Gary Andersen. The now former Utah State head coach is coming off the most successful season in school history, with 11 wins and a blowout bowl victory against Toledo in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. As ironic as it may be, a loss at Wisconsin may have kept the Aggies from making a push to play the role of BCS Buster this season.

Gary Andersen got a taste of Madison earlier in 2012. Now he will be leading the program. Getty Images.

Gary Andersen got a taste of Madison earlier in 2012. Now he will be leading the program. Getty Images.

I like the hire of Andersen at Wisconsin because I think he fits that typical Big Ten mold that focuses on sound defense. He also joins a division with one of his former bosses, Ohio State’s Urban Meyer, so this could be fun.

Last week I had the opportunity to interview Andersen as his team was prepping for the bowl game. The interview focused mostly on Utah State’s 2012 season and the match-up with Toledo but I asked Andersen about his thoughts on the importance of defense in an era that is flooded with offenses going up-tempo and scoring points at will in some cases. I tend to agree with his answer, suggesting that college football goes in cycles and defenses will eventually catch-up.

Football is a cyclical game,” Andersen told me for the interview on Crystal Ball Run. “It starts with something, than people figure it out, then it goes to the no-huddle, then pace, then defenses spend the whole off-season trying to figure it out, then offenses do something else to counter it. That’s what coaches do.

“But the ability to throw the ball, if you’ve got a very talented quarterback it’s difficult to keep points off the board. Especially if you have a quarterback that can hurt you with his arms, his legs and his mind. That’s what a lot of these teams have gone to; they’ve got a bunch of athletes at quarterback that are going to cause you problems.

“So I think it will continually go back-and-forth in the world football. That’s just the way it seems to be.”

It should be interesting to see how Andersen works with Wisconsin, who has played good defense, but not great in recent years. The Badgers are in the same division as Meyer and Ohio State, with an emerging Braxton Miller under center, and Bill O’Brien, who has Penn State’s offense doing things few ever expected to see already.

For the full interview with Andersen, visit Crystal Ball Run, and many thanks to Aaron Torres for transcribing the interview. For more coverage of the Wisconsin Badgers, visit Madtown Badgers.

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About the author

Contributor to College Football Talk on NBCSports.com and managing editor of Crystal Ball Run. Member of Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. Follow on Twitter @KevinOnCFB.