Coaching Staff Confidence Level – 8
While the attention of most Big Ten and national media has focused on what has or hasn’t happened behind the scenes in Ann Arbor, Michigan with the Wolverine sign-stealing saga, both Ryan Day and Luke Fickell along with their respected staff have remained focused on one another. Day is 1-0 against Fickell, having defeated him and the Cincinnati Bearcats back in 2019 by a score of 42-0.
Day, who is 3-0 all-time against Wisconsin, two of which came in Big Ten Championship games, has adapted to his team’s new defense-first mentality. I’m sure he would still rather be posting 40-plus points per game offensively, but given how good this year’s defense is playing, he has started to become a little more conservative in his play calling, making sure he doesn’t put his defense in bad situations. It feels a little more like Tressel-ball than the high-flying offense we grew accustomed to under Day in the previous seasons.
Fickell on the other hand is in the midst of a rebuild where changing an entire program and fanbase’s mentality seems to be a little more difficult than I thought it would be going into the season. It is apparent that the Badger faithful are more used to the more traditional style of play that the Big 10 West is known for, where controlling the clock through a bruising run game and winning low-scoring affairs is the norm. Wisconsin just doesn’t seem to have the kind of athletes yet to truly run the kind of game plan that Fickell likes. However, he is still 5-2 overall and in a battle for the Big 10 West Division Title.
Given where these two programs currently are, I am much more confident that Ryan Day and his coaching staff have a great game plan for this Saturday’s contest. No doubt Fickell and his staff will also be ready, but they just won’t have the horses to execute that game plan to a high level like Ohio State will. My confidence level in the coaching staff is at an eight.