Badgers take part in Big Ten Media Day - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Badgers take part in Big Ten Media Day

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CHICAGO (WKOW) -

 Gary Andersen stepped to the podium at Big Ten Media Day for the second time as the head coach of the Wisconsin Badgers. The first question he faced regarded how "easy" the Badgers' schedule appears to be on paper. Andersen wasted no time firing back.

 "LSU is LSU, one of the best in the country year in, year out. Bowling Green is picked to take their conference and was a great team last year. Then we get into the Big Ten. So, there is no easy Big Ten games. Anybody who thinks there is is sadly mistaken, and I'll debate that with you as much as you want to debate it because you better strap it on and be ready every week in the Big Ten. So as far as the schedule goes, I disagree it's an easier schedule or what have you. That's my opinion."

Following a 9-4 campaign, the expectations are high for Wisconsin, especially since the Badgers don't have Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan or Penn State on the schedule. The Badgers were picked by the media as the preseason favorites to win the West Division of the Big Ten. Running back Melvin Gordon didn't shy away from that pressure.

"The expectations are high just because we know what kind of football team we want to be. If we can go undefeated, that's the goal."

For the Badgers to be successful, Gordon will have to carry a heavy load. The junior is an early Heisman candidate. With a young roster, Andersen is turning to Gordon to fill the leadership void left after the graduation of last year's strong senior class.

"Melvin Gordon has been unbelievable. Melvin is about team first. And the position he's in, and we all know how great a player he is, but he's even a better young man and a leader for the young kids in our program. So proud of the way Melvin has handled that."

Gordon will lead the offensive charge. However, the Badgers still need to find stability under center. Andersen claims the starting quarterback battle is wide open right now between Joel Stave and Tanner McEvoy.

"Joel Stave and Tanner McEvoy will come in and split the reps. Those first four practices when we're split, obviously one's going to be a 1 in the morning and one will be a 1 in the afternoon. D.J. Gillins will be in the middle of that argument also as he comes in as a freshman, but he will not get as many reps as the first -- those first two young men. It's going to be interesting to watch."

Those quarterbacks will be playing behind a veteran offensive line. However, the big question mark on offense is the receiving corps. Jared Abbrederis is gone. All that is left is a handful of veteran role players and some young, untested prospects.

"We need a couple young men to step up, some in our program and have been in our program for the years past, but Kenzel (Doe) and Jordan (Fredrick), quite frankly, need some help as far as moving ourselves forward. Alex Erickson has done a nice job. He's back off his injury. But we have Jazz Peavy and Robert Wheelwright in our program a year ago; they need to be ready to step up and play this year if we're going to be a factor at the wide receiver position."

The defense will also need some young players to step up. Andersen pointed to the young players in the front seven as the key to this year's defense.

"We're going to see where they sit in camp, see if they can hang in there with our offensive line from a physical standpoint. In fall camp, if they can do that, then we should be able to put together a pretty good defense. If they can't do that, then if you can't stop the run, you're going to have some struggles as you move through."

When camp begins on August 4th, Andersen hopes to find more answers than questions. For now, he's enjoying the process of molding this young group.

"This is a youthful team. They're exciting to watch, work. They're exciting to be around. And the youthfulness is contagious now."


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