Wisconsin Coaches Profiles: Defense, Part 2

by Rexford Shield

In case you guys missed it on Tuesday, here’s a profile on Dave Aranda. Continuing with the defense, next up is Bill Busch.

Bill Busch.jpg

Bill Busch, Secondary Coach     

Background: Busch will be in charge of a unit that was very solid under former position coach Chris Ash. However, they will be depleted of much of the previous experience and talent as Shelton Johnson, Devin Smith and Marcus Cromartie departed. Moreover, the returning players amongst the secondary have little to no actual game experience, which raises a major red flag

While some might be worried about this factor, Busch calmly acknowledged the challenge. “Sometimes a fresh, new face coming in can also enlighten some guys. They will also mature from where they were a year ago to where they are when they get to us now. They’ll have some opportunities,” he said. “The guys that we have and the guys that we sign that are coming in, they’re our guys. That’s why we want to be able to get those guys developed.

Busch has very strong ties with Andersen, as this is their fourth go-around together (Northern Arizona, Utah, Utah State), and it was sensed that Andersen had a lot of trust in him because of their relationship. “I know I’m comfortable enough to be able to go into his office, make a suggestion and know that whichever way it goes it’s not going to affect our relationship. When you’ve been together for 20 years that’s a plus,” Busch said. 

While he has familiarity with Andersen, he also has a strong familiarity with the Big Ten. He was a graduate assistant at UW under Alvarez in 1994 and was assistant coach at Nebraska under Bill Callahan, which gave him some distinct credibility when interviewing for the position. “I think it carries a little bit of credibility that I was here with coach Alvarez. Obviously we know the effect he still has on these players. I’ve read a lot of comments and things that were made when he took over to coach the last game. I think that gave me a little bit of credibility.” He also worked with Tom Osborne at Nebraska and Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer while they were both at Utah. Stemming from this, Busch has been around the game for awhile and been around some Hall of Fame worthy coaches, which should have UW fans excited.

According to Busch, he will handle the safeties while Ben Strickland will handle the cornerbacks. I know Busch has experience with both positions but I would much rather have him be in charge of the cornerbacks―at least for this year. Like I mentioned earlier, the cornerbacks need the most coaching in terms of technique, etc., but you have to have trust in Andersen in his choice to assign both coaches to their respective positions.

Lastly, Busch was named the 2012 Football Scoop's Defensive Backs Coach of the Year for his outstanding work with Utah State's secondary. This award is by no means a petty award and it speaks further to the work that Busch can do for the UW secondary.

Busch prepping his secondary against Wisconsin last Fall.

Busch prepping his secondary against Wisconsin last Fall.

Style of Play: In terms of technique and scheme, Busch did not allude to the specific type of defense he would utilize but, as previously mentioned, they will probably play quarters defense and Cover 1. However, he talked about the intangibles he will bring to the table to get the best out of his players. “The energy. That’s the one thing. There’s no one here that doesn’t have a lot of energy because coach Andersen wouldn’t hire them if they didn’t have it,” he said. “I want guys to perform at their highest level on the biggest stage. That’s something we’ll strive to be able to do.”

The most intriguing aspect of his style of play will be the comfortable cushion given by the defensive backs, which will be ultimately decided by Aranda. Under Ash, offenses could have a field day on quick slant passes and bubble screens, allowing them to gain 4-6 yards at will.  I think Busch can the UW cornerbacks to play more physical, especially given the performance of the Utah State's cornerbacks against Wisconsin last September.

Recruiting emphasis: Of all the new assistant coaches under Andersen, Busch has the most experience recruiting strong talent year in and year out. For the 2013 class, he aided in the recruitment of Jack Keeler (OL, 3-star, 6'7'', 285 lbs; Barrington, IL), Sojourn Shelton (DB, 3-star, 5'10'' 150 lbs; Plantation, FL) and Jakarrie Washington (DB, 2-star, 5'11'' 170 lbs; Everett, MA).

Recruiting areas are still being mapped out but he mentioned he would be apart of the recruiting in Florida. It would be huge if Wisconsin can maintain strong ties in the South―particularly in Florida―as the program has had a lot of success there. Also, while at Nebraska, he heavily recruited areas out west, including Arizona, California (San Diego area) and Hawaii. Moreover, Zack Bowman―a player he recruited at Nebraska and now plays with the Chicago Bears―came out of New Mexico.

It also seems Busch puts a huge emphasis on recruiting. “If you ever make errors and someone says, ‘What went wrong?’ For the most part something went wrong in recruiting. It really wasn’t anything like, ‘Well, if we would have bench pressed one more Thursday somewhere in there we would have been fine.’ It’s somewhere an error in (recruiting),” he said. “We’re going to try to upgrade that and then take the guys you have and it’s how well you can develop them. Make good players great and make great players super. You’ve got to be able to raise whatever level.”

Wherever he was, he had a huge stake in the commitments of some high-profile recruits, who panned out to be great college players. For instance, at Nebraska, he had one 5-star recruit (Bowman), five 4-star recruits and ten 3-star recruits (most notably Prince Amukamara of the New York Giants).

By far the biggest recruit Busch secured during his coaching career was Alex Smith. Busch took a chance on the current 49ers quarterback when he coached at Utah and it paid off ten-fold, as Smith had an impressive collegiate career. "On our way here (to New York), there was one guy we called Bill Busch," said Pam Smith, Smith's mother, in a 2004 interview with Steven Sipple of the Lincoln Journal Star. "If it weren't for Bill, we may not have gotten this chance. Bill's the guy who spotted out Alex." If that doesn't make you jump out of your seat and bow down to Andersen for getting Busch, I don't know what will.

Impression: This was the best hire by Andersen in my opinion. He brings so much to the table, especially recruiting, which will be a huge aid for Wisconsin to expand westward. In terms of X's and O's, the secondary will significantly benefit from his leadership and experience. Of all the coaches, he faces the most turnover but I am more confident he can get them to play sound fundamental football under him.

Ash did a tremendous job with the secondary last season but you have to think the unit had a lot of experience coming back from the previous season. Moreover, the secondary was horrendous in Ash's first year with the team.

I will go out on a limb and predict Busch will have the most immediate impact of all the new assistants because of his pedigree.