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LUCAS AT LARGE M I K E LUCA S ��� UWB A DGERS.C OM Early effort is music to Andersen���s ears A fter six spring football practices, Wisconsin���s first-year head coach, Gary Andersen, isn���t about to rush to judgment on personnel or position groups. Questions still abound; understandably so. But the next three weeks should be more telling. ���I think we���ll have a bunch of those answers as we move forward,������ he said, eyeing the eight practices leading up to the April 20 spring game. ���I don���t think we���ll have them all, but we���ll have a lot of those questions answered and definitely the goal as we move through the rest of the spring. ���They���re very important practices. But our ability to completely wrap our arms around the direction that we���re headed as a group of coaches and a group of players, trainers, managers and film guys ��� getting everyone on the same page ��� is real important right now.������ One objective was to have 15 consecutive practices of ���great energy.������ To this goal, he said, ���It���s been good every day. I don���t expect them to come out and act like every day is game day. That���s not important to me. But it is important to play at a high level every day in practice. We���ve done that.������ Also significant, he said, has been the players��� willingness to accept change and adapt to new schemes or different ways of doing things. Andersen cited their ���want-to������ as a big positive, along with their understanding that they���re stepping into a ���competitive environment every day.������ Pat Muldoon and Tyler Dippel are among those players undergoing changes in what they do and how they do it on defense. Muldoon has moved from D-end in a 4-3 formation to an inside technique in a 3-4. He���s head-up on the tackle. Dippel has gone from having a hand down to being a stand-up linebacker. ���It���s a whole new deal for me and a big change,������ said Dippel, a seniorto-be from Slinger, Wis. ���But I love it. I���m trying to go as hard as I can and not take any day for granted. We���ve got guys trying to prove themselves to a whole new coaching staff and show them what they���ve got.������ Since making the position switch, Muldoon has already put on 12 pounds. Committed to playing at 270 or 275, he said that many of the changes in the weight room and on the practice field have ���reinvigorated������ the players. He referenced a ���new energy������ in the McClain Indoor Facility. Some of that has to do with the music that blares on a steady basis. ���If you���re starting to get a little tired, sometimes you���ll hear a song come on and it will pump you up,������ said Muldoon, a senior-to-be from Mason, Ohio. ���Just having new coaches and a new defense has everyone reinvested.������ Muldoon has one request for the song list: eliminate all the country music, which nonetheless is favored by a surprisingly larger segment on the team than you would imagine. During a practice prior to spring break, Dippel cringed upon hearing the Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears. ���But it makes you lock in,������ he said. There���s a method behind the Chesney, if you will. Moreover, Andersen is open to suggestions, i.e. feedback on football-related issues. ���It means a ton to mean,������ he said. ���I always want to make sure I put those kids in the right spot to be successful and let them feel like they ownership, too.������ Autonomy has its place. Andersen believes in giving his assistants space to coach. ���I want them to be good communicators,������ he said. ���I want them to be able to teach concepts and techniques. I want them to have passion at practice, a ton of energy. But I���m going to let them be who they are.������ He wants them to coach within their personality. Andersen abides by that principle. What you see on the practice field ��� a source of boundless energy ��� is who he is. ���He���s all over the place doing everything,������ Muldoon said. ���I���ve seen him taking snaps and lining up over wide receivers.������ During the first six practices, Andersen filled a void on his coaching staff by assisting with the linebackers. Until hiring someone, he relished that return to basics. ���It���s the best time of the day for me,������ he said, ���to be around the kids at practice or to be around them in the weight room.������ Last week, Andersen got the opportunity to revisit his early days as continued on p. 16 14 �� VARSITY MAR CH 28, 2013