Jan. 3, 2013
MADISON, Wis. -- With the 2012 season officially coming to an end on Tuesday, Wisconsin football coach Gary Andersen wasted little time in putting together his staff for the 2013 campaign. Andersen announced Thursday that he will be bringing in five new assistant coaches to join current UW staffers Thomas Hammock and Ben Strickland.
The new coaches are offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Andy Ludwig, defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, secondary coach Bill Busch, defensive line coach Chad Kauha’aha’a and offensive line coach T.J. Woods. Hammock will continue to coach running backs while Strickland will remain and coach in the secondary.
“I am excited by the staff we have been able to assemble,” Andersen said. “They are quality coaches who bring the experience and philosophies that will enable us to continue playing great offense and defense at Wisconsin. They are also individuals who take care of kids first and will coach them in the right way.
“I have previously worked with the five coaches we are bringing in and I have gotten to know Thomas and Ben in the last few weeks so that familiarity will be beneficial. Both on offense and defense, these coaches have shown a lot of flexibility within their systems, and their main goal is to get the best 11 players on the field and build around their strengths. Our style on offense will be very familiar to Wisconsin fans while on defense I am confident that we can continue the great tradition of tough and physical units that has been established here.”
Ludwig comes to Madison after having spent the last two seasons at San Diego State. This year, the Aztecs went 9-4, including 7-1 in the Mountain West Conference. The SDSU offense averaged 32.9 points per game and ranked 20th in the nation in rushing, with 220.7 average yards per game. Aztecs junior tight end Gavin Escobar was a Mackey Award semifinalist while sophomore running back Adam Muema ran for 1,458 yards.
In 2011, San Diego State averaged 427.4 yards per game. Running back Ronnie Hillman ranked fourth nationally in rushing (1,711 yards) and was selected in the third round of the NFL Draft. Quarterback Ryan Lindley, who finished his career among the top 15 in FBS history in career passing yards, was a sixth-round draft choice of the Arizona Cardinals.
Ludwig just completed his 18th year as an offensive coordinator at the NCAA level and has 26 years of coaching experience overall. His teams have been to 13 bowl games, with seven bids in the past eight seasons. Prior to his years at San Diego State, Ludwig served as the offensive coordinator at California (2009-10), Utah (2005-08), Oregon (2002-04), Fresno State (1998-01), Cal Poly (1997) and Augustana (1993-94).
He was named a finalist for the FootballScoop Offensive Coordinator of the Year in 2008 while at Utah when he directed an offense that scored 36.9 points per game as the Utes finished 13-0. Ludwig was also a finalist for the 2001 Frank Broyles Assistant Coach of the Year award while at Fresno State. That Fresno team featured Heisman Trophy finalist and 2002 NFL Draft No. 1 pick David Carr.
“I’m excited and honored to be a part of the Wisconsin football tradition, and I can’t wait to get started and hit the ground running,” Ludwig said.
Aranda is following Andersen to UW after spending 2012 as the defensive coordinator at Utah State. He oversaw an Aggies defense that ranks eighth in the country in scoring defense, allowing just 15.4 points per game.
In addition to scoring defense, Utah State also ranks among the top 15 nationally in sacks (eighth), pass efficiency defense (10th), rush defense (12th) and total defense (15th). In the red zone, the Aggies were particularly effective, allowing opponents to score on just 63.6 percent of their trips inside the 20-yard line, a mark that tied them for third in the country in red zone defense. USU opponents scored just 13 TDs in 44 red zone opportunities (29.5 percent).
Prior to his season at Utah State, Aranda spent four years at Hawai`i, the last two spent as the Warriors’ defensive coordinator after coaching UH's defensive line his first two years.
“I’m excited to join Coach Andersen at Wisconsin and I’m looking forward to continuing to play great defense at Wisconsin,” Aranda said.
Busch, the co-Defensive Backs Coach of the Year by FootballScoop.com in 2012, joins UW after spending the last four years with Andersen at Utah State. The last two seasons he served as associate head coach and special teams coordinator, as well as coaching the USU safeties. Busch spent his first two seasons at Utah State as the defensive coordinator.
Busch also coached with Andersen at both Northern Arizona (1995-96) and Utah (2000-03). In addition to his ties to Andersen, Busch has connections to UW dating back to the start of his coaching career. He got his start as a graduate assistant at Nebraska from 1990-93 then spent two seasons as a GA at Wisconsin under Barry Alvarez in 1993-94. Busch was later outside linebackers and safeties coach at Nebraska under Bill Callahan from 2004-07. Callahan was a member of Barry Alvarez’s first coaching staff at Wisconsin and spent five years coaching the Badgers’ offensive line.
“The most exciting thing for me is to get back to Madison,” Busch said. “I was a GA under coach Alvarez and it’s always been a dream to come back as a full-time coach. This is the happiest day of my life in coaching to get to come back to Wisconsin.”
Kauha’aha’a (pronounced cow-ha-a-ha-a) has spent the last two years at Utah, where he groomed one of the top defensive tackles in the country. He mentored the highly decorated Star Lotulelei, the Utah defensive tackle projected by some to be the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Lotulelei was named a first-team All-American by Walter Camp and the Associated Press in 2012.
Another of Kauha’aha’a’s pupils, defensive end Joe Kruger, announced he is leaving Utah following his junior season and is projected as a second-round draft pick. He was an honorable mention All-Pac-12 choice in 2012 and had nine sacks and 14 TFLs in the last two seasons. Lotulelei and Kruger are projected to join Tevita Finau and Derrick Shelby, two other Kauha’aha’a products from Utah, in the NFL.
In his two seasons at Utah, the Utes ranked among the top 25 in the country in rush defense, finishing 20th in 2011 (113.5 ypg.) and 23rd this past season (128.2 ypg.). Before joining the Utah staff, Kauha’aha’a was a member of Andersen’s first staff at Utah State, spending the 2009-10 seasons as USU’s defensive line coach.
“There was only one person who could get me to leave Utah and that’s Coach Andersen,” Kauha’aha’a said. “I trust him so much and learned a tremendous amount in my time with him, so when he called and gave me an opportunity, it was a no brainer. My family and I are extremely excited about joining the Wisconsin football family and coaching in the Big Ten, and we can’t wait to get it started.”
Another member of Andersen’s original staff at Utah State, Woods spent the last two seasons in charge of the Aggies’ offensive line after coaching USU’s tight ends and special teams his first two years. The Aggies have had four first-team All-WAC choices along the offensive line in the past two seasons. Center Tyler Larsen was the first two-time first-team all-conference offensive lineman for Utah State since 1996-97, while tackle Eric Schultz (2012) and guard Philip Gapelu (2011) were also first-team choices. Larsen was selected to the Rimington Trophy Watch List twice and was also a Lombardi and Outland Trophy preseason nominee in 2012.
The Aggies are 25th in the country in rushing this season (204.1 ypg) and are one of just four teams in the country (Wisconsin, Oregon and Western Kentucky are the others) to have a 1,500-yard rusher in each of the last two seasons. Last year, Utah State’s offense led the WAC and ranked sixth in the FBS in rushing offense (282.7 ypg). Over the last two seasons, Utah State has averaged 5.8 yards per carry over the last two seasons. That ranks second in the country, behind only Oregon.
Woods went to Utah State from New Mexico, where he was an offensive graduate assistant for two seasons. At New Mexico, he worked with Jason Lenzmeier, who played under former UW offensive line coach Bob Bostad at UNM. Woods also helped tutor Bart Miller, UW’s interim offensive line coach in 2012, at New Mexico.
“I’m humbled and honored to be a part of the Wisconsin football family and look forward to continuing the tradition off tremendous offensive line play that has been established in this program,” Woods said. “I am also very excited to continue to work with a great coach like Coach Andersen.”
Hammock just finished his second season as the Badgers’ running backs coach. In his first year, he saw his star protégé, Montee Ball, lead the nation in rushing, be named a Heisman Trophy finalist and tie Barry Sanders' NCAA record for touchdowns scored in a season.
For an encore, Hammock helped Ball become the NCAA’s all-time leader in touchdowns and the Doak Walker Award winner while putting together one of the most prolific rushing attacks in the nation.
Beyond Ball's record-setting season, Hammock also mentored junior James White and freshman Melvin Gordon to outstanding seasons this year. Each of UW's top three backs rushed for more than 600 yards this season. Ball and White have combined for 2,636 rushing yards in 2012, second-best among any running back tandem in the country.
For his part, Ball is just the 17th player in FBS history to top 5,000 yards for a career. He led the nation in rushing in 2011 and ranks second among running backs in 2012. Ball won the Ameche-Dayne Big Ten Running Back of the Year award for the second-consecutive season after becoming the first Big Ten player since at least 1939 to lead the league in scoring in three consecutive seasons.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to remain at Wisconsin where I have built a great rapport with the players,” Hammock said. “I look forward to working with Coach Andersen and building on the foundation that has made Wisconsin successful. The future is bright in Madison and I am honored to be a part of this great football program moving forward.”
Strickland, a former Wisconsin defensive back who spent the last four seasons on the Badgers’ coaching staff, just completed his first year as a full-time assistant coach. Strickland assisted co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash with the secondary this season and was heavily involved in special teams. On the recruiting trail, Strickland has been invaluable in his home state, continuing the pipeline of Wisconsin players to UW.
With Strickland’s guidance, the UW secondary helped the Badgers’ defense become one of the nation’s top units. Wisconsin ranks 23rd in the country in pass defense, allowing just 196.5 passing yards per game and 21st in the country in pass efficiency defense (112.6). UW has allowed opponents to complete just 54.5 percent of their passes this season, good for a tie for 15th in the country.
Three of the Badgers’ four starters in the secondary received All-Big Ten honors. Senior CB Devin Smith, who is tied for the Big Ten lead with four interceptions this season, was a second-team selection by the media. UW’s other senior cornerback, Marcus Cromartie, was a consensus honorable mention pick, as was junior SS Dezmen Southward.
“I feel very blessed to be a part of the Badger football program and very excited for the opportunity to continue to build on the great tradition of Wisconsin football with Coach Andersen and the new coaches,” Strickland said. “I am thankful to Coach Andersen for giving me the chance to stay at UW and for showing trust in me to do my part during this very exciting time.
"I am very humbled to be able to continue to work with the tremendous coaches we have in the state and other parts of the country to bring in great young men of character and add their legacy to this tremendous university.”