Spring Practice Primer: Wisconsin Badgers

By Tom Fornelli | College Football Writer

College football never ends, and during the next few weeks teams will be getting ready for the 2013 season in their spring practice sessions. Here's a look at the Wisconsin Badgers and what they'll be working on this spring.

Alabama and Virginia Tech will play for the
With James White around Wisconsin does not have to worry about life after Montee Ball. (USATSI)

Spring practice begins: March 9

Spring game: April 20

2012 record: 8-6

Returning starters: 15 (eight offense, seven defense)

The Least You Should Know About Wisconsin This Spring

-- A change in leadership. Bret Bielema surprised a lot of people when he left Wisconsin for Arkansas shortly after the season ended, and now a program that hadn't had to deal with a lot of change in the last 20 years suddenly has an entire new coaching staff. Gary Andersen has said he doesn't plan on changing the bread and butter of what it is that Wisconsin does, but it'll be interesting to see what, if any, new wrinkles he brings with him from Utah State.

-- The competition at quarterback is going to be very interesting to follow. Danny O'Brien was brought in last season on the Wisconsin Transfer Quarterback Train but lost his starting job to Joel Stave. Stave was then hurt and relinquished the job to Curt Phillips. Which means that Wisconsin now has three experienced quarterbacks in camp competing for the job along with redshirt freshman Bart Houston and junior college transfer Tanner McEvoy. Toss in the new system under offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig and it's impossible to know who will be the starter this fall, but a strong performance this spring could go a long way.

-- Wisconsin will be fine without Montee Ball. The Badgers have churned out running back after running back over the years, so while Montee Ball was a great player in Madison, his departure will not hurt Wisconsin all that much. James White and Melvin Gordon rushed for more than 1,400 yards and 15 touchdowns last season and both will see an increased workload this season. White will likely be the featured back, but considering Gordon averaged 10 yards per carry last season, you can be sure he'll have the ball in his hands often.

-- The secondary is a question mark. Wisconsin finished third in the Big Ten in defensive pass efficiency last season, and while only four starters from the 2012 defense have departed, three of them played in the secondary. That includes both starting cornerbacks in Devin Smith and Marcus Cromartie. The Badgers added one of the best junior college corners in the country in Donnell Vercher, and it wouldn't be surprising to see him claim one of those starting spots. Behind Vercher there is Darius Hillary and Peniel Jean competing for a starting spot at corner as well.

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