The Luke Fickell era.
Anticipation for the new coaching regime has been palpable between Lakes Mendota and Monona. Coach Chryst’s firing last October sent seismic blasts through Wisconsin’s fan base. While shocking at first, the understanding that the Badgers have the potential to be elite is evident. But, the run-heavy philosophy of previous coaches needed tweaking, and Fickell was ready to install the air raid offense – a cultural shift saturated in intrigue.
The Buffalo Bulls would be the testing ground for Wisconsin on a hot sunny day in Madison. The first half showcased many expected growing pains as Buffalo played strong and kept the Badgers in check. Many joked that the air raid looked more like the air run in the second half. By spreading out the defense with more wide receivers, the running lanes opened and the Badgers ended the game with two 100+ yard runners and a 38-17 victory. The passing game with transfer QB Tanner Mordecai showed promise as his 24 pass completions were the most by a Wisconsin passer in his debut since 1968.
The sellout crowd in Madison surged with an expectant energy that the walls of Camp Randall Stadium hadn’t felt since Russell Wilson’s debut in 2011. Even though the fans didn’t experience the high octane passing attack they were expecting, folks sang, danced, and “jumped around” as usual. Other than complaints of the new DJ whose tunes blared in piercing fashion, Wisconsin’s opener proved successful, with confidence on the rise.