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September 13, 2013

BadgerBlitz Mailbag: Week 3

Welcome back to my 2013 football mailbag! I'll answer your questions every week from the Badger's Den and take questions over Twitter and through plain old email, so if you have a question you'd like me to feature go right ahead and send them in.

Today we'll take questions from my inbox, Twitter and the Badger's Den, our exclusive message board for BadgerBlitz.com subscribers.

Mike G. from South Royalton, Vt., writes: The 3-4 defense has posted two shutouts in a row, which is still impressive despite the competition, but how well do you think this success will be translated to the Big Ten season, which features a more physical style of play and has less spread elements?

That's the biggest question that the Badgers haven't answered yet, but we'll have a pretty good idea of just how good this defense is after their game with Arizona State. As for translating to the Big Ten, I think the Badgers have two pretty significant advantages in their pocket- nobody else in the Big Ten runs a 3-4, and the Badgers have an experienced and talented front seven.

Being the only team to run a 3-4 in the conference is an advantage because other teams will have to prepare for it differently than they would for another team. Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda said once that he runs a 3-4 because he doesn't want to have a scheme where other teams will automatically know how to attack it, because they see it all the time. He wants a defense that other teams will have to reach deep into their own playbooks to attack, and I think the Badgers have the right personnel and the right coach for this defense to be effective right away.

As for the front seven, it still astounds me just how well the Badgers were able to make the switch after recruiting to the 4-3 scheme for so many seasons. There's a lot of experience and playmaking ability in Wisconsin's front seven, so I think they'll be able to handle the switch and the rest of the Big Ten better than a younger defense would be able to.

Ryan Topp (@RyanTopp) asks over Twitter: After 2 games, what is Wisconsin's realistic ceiling and floor for wins this year?

It's hard for me to change my original projection of 9 or 10 wins after these last two games, just because we haven't seen this team's true face on offense or defense. Right now I think the ceiling is pretty hard at 11 regular season wins, because I think they'll drop at least one game this year. It could be this week against Arizona State, or in two weeks against Ohio State, but I think there will be at least one loss.

As for the floor, I think that's harder to say than the ceiling- because if this defense has trouble against better teams, or if the offense stumbles again, the Big Ten is unforgiving enough where the Badgers will pay for those mistakes. But at the same time Wisconsin's schedule is still pretty soft, so I'm thinking the floor is at about seven or eight regular season wins.

BadgerBlitz.com member CC Manhattan writes: This staff seems to have a totally different style of recruiting (which I like so far). Will this staff ever pull a Crean or Buzz Cut with anyone they offer early?

If you mean that the Badgers might bump an older player off the team or off scholarship for a younger, more talented player, I just don't see it happening under Gary Andersen. A lot of coaches say that they're in the players' corner at all times, but Andersen has backed up everything he's said about that so far. Bumping players off the team or off of a scholarship just to bringing younger players just doesn't fit the profile he's staked out for himself so far.

BadgerBlitz.com member UWOle31 writes: Anything on hoops? Today was the first day coaches can get out on the road to do home visits and watch prospects work out. Saw a tweet that said UW would be in Rice Lake to see Henry Ellenson this week. Any other rumblings?

While I think the Badgers are certainly interested in Ellenson, the biggest basketball news that sticks out to me is that Plainfield, Ill., shooting guard Aaron Jordan visited Wisconsin's campus for the third time last Saturday while the Badgers kicked Tennessee Tech around the field. Creighton and Illinois have also offered Jordan, but he told Jon McNamara last week that the Badgers are definitely in his top group. My general philosophy for both football and basketball recruiting is that the more combined official and unofficial visits, the better for a school. Visits show genuine interest, and the more times the Badgers can get Jordan on campus the better off they'll be.

For more Wisconsin Badgers news, notes and discussion, follow John on Twitter.

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