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Wisconsin Football: A Look at Phil Longo’s Offensive Scheme

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Wisconsin football Phil Longo

Madison, Wis. – UW Athletic Director Chris McIntosh made the splash hire of the CFB offseason when he convinced Luke Fickell to leave Cincinnati and become the head coach of the Wisconsin football program.

That hiring left most around Badger nation wondering what kind of offense he planned on running in Madison. A few weeks ago, we got our answer when Bruce Feldman of The Athletic reported that coach Fickell made a splash of his own by hiring Phil Longo as UW’s next offensive coordinator. 

Who is Phil Longo? 

Phil Longo comes to UW from Chapel Hills after spending the past four seasons as UNC’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach under legendary head coach Mack Brown. Before that, he served as the Ole Miss OC for two seasons after finding tremendous success at FCS Sam Houston State.

Unlike former OC Bobby Engram, Longo has a long track record of production and successful playcalling at every coaching stop. North Carolina finished top-3 in the ACC in yards per play in each of the past four seasons.

He did a terrific job developing quarterbacks at UNC. Longo mentored Sam Howell, a fifth round NFL draft selection in 2021. In 2022, coach Longo played a significant role in redshirt freshman Drake Maye’s breakout season, where he passed for the third-most yards and fifth-most touchdowns in the FBS – vaulting him onto the NFL’s radar.

What Will Phil Longo Bring to Wisconsin Football? 

Now, brace yourselves, Wisconsin football traditionalists…because he runs a very different system than we’ve grown accustomed to watching.

Longo, who became enamored with Mike Leach’s teachings at a coaching clinic many years ago, is a practitioner of the air-raid offense. Before you spit out your morning coffee – there is a twist.

Yes, it’s an air raid offense, but it’s combined with a…wait for it…power running game. In the words of UNC head coach Mack Brown, “He’s [Longo] taken what they did with the Oklahoma system with Lincoln Riley, and he’s combined [it with] the power running game.”

“Balance is distribution of the football to all the weapons of the offense,” Longo told UW reporters. “That’s the goal of Wisconsin’s offense.”

His playbook famously consists of 30 or fewer plays, where the offense can run multiple different looks based on the defensive alignment. Longo’s offensive goal is to remain simplistic while providing the illusion of complexity.

“Stretch them [opponents] horizontally pre-snap, vertically post-snap and then let’s find a way to get them the ball so we can watch athletes go be athletes,” Longo told UW reporters when discussing his offensive philosophy.

Another unique component of his system, in my opinion, is that he doesn’t ask his quarterbacks to read defenders. Instead, the focus is on the “looks” of the offensive set. It’s a progression concept where he wants his signal caller to trust their eyes and focus more on his receivers.

After watching some of coach Longo’s youtube videos outlining his offense, I feel comfortable saying we’ll see some zone-read, RPOs, spread concepts, and myriad other designed QB runs. He runs each of these different looks from similar formations – making opposing defenses account for every possibility.

The Big Question

Adding coach Longo as the new OC doesn’t mean Wisconsin football will become Ohio State overnight – far from it. However, it’s a clear shift in the offensive philosophy at UW, and on paper, it should appeal more to recruits.

The big question is can Wisconsin football bring in the necessary talent/athletes to accentuate the strengths of the offensive scheme?

A large part of recruiting comes down to geography and a player’s proximity to home. Coach Fickell has set parameters (a 300-mile radius) in which he intends to build the core of this program. Although that radius includes several major midwestern cities, the state of Wisconsin doesn’t churn out a ton of skill-position players. I understand he will go outside of these parameters to find players, but the point is he will have a harder time finding what the offense needs close to home.

Luke Fickell and Phil Longo have already begun to add dynamic talent at QB, which is an important first step to answering this question. It’ll be interesting to see if the top WRs follow these QBs to Madison.


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Former Wisconsin Football RB Named to CFB Hall of Fame Ballot

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Sep 15, 2012; Madison, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers running back Montee Ball (28) during the game against the Utah State Aggies at Camp Randall Stadium. Wisconsin defeated Utah State 16-14. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Madison, Wis. –The 2024 College Football Hall of Fame ballot has been released, and a Wisconsin football legend is among the names on the list.

Montee Ball, who was with Wisconsin from 2010-2012, was among 78 players and nine coaches selected for the ballot.

Ball is among the most decorated players in Wisconsin history. The Badger legend received two first-team All-American nominations, along with winning the Doak Walker Award. He also received Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year honors in 2011.

Ball placed himself in the NCAA record books when he tied with Barry Sanders for the most single-season TDs in NCAA history with 39 during the 2011 season and secured the NCAA record for most single-season points with 236. The Badger legend is also the only player in history to rush for 100 yards in three straight Rose Bowl games.

Ball amassed 5,255 yards and 79 touchdowns throughout his three years at UW. His best statistical season came in 2011 when the Wisconsin legend rushed for 1,923 yards and 33 touchdowns. On top of that, Ball hauled in 24 receptions for 306 yards and six touchdowns in the same season.

Denver would select the former Badger in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft, where he spent two years as a Bronco.

Other Wisconsin Football HOF Representatives 

The Wisconsin football program currently has four players and one coach in the CFB Hall of Fame. Barry Alvarez was the first Badger to enter the HOF when he was selected in 2010. Ron Dayne (2013), Tim Krumrie (2016), Joe Thomas (2019), and Troy Vincent (2023) round out the rest of the list.

Ball stands out in the 2024 class due to the sheer volume of his accolades. When voting wraps up, I expect the Wisconsin legend to be among those inducted.


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Wisconsin Football Lands 2024 Three-Star Interior Offensive Lineman

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Madison, Wis. – The Wisconsin football program has picked up its fourth commit in the last three days, with three-star offensive lineman Ryan Cory coming on board.

The news comes just an hour after four-star OT Kevin Heywood announced his commitment to Wisconsin. 

Cory took to Twitter to announce his commitment.

Wisconsin beat out offers from Pitt, Vanderbilt, Cincinnati, Oregon, Rutgers, and many more. Cory was set to visit Pittsburgh and Vanderbilt in the coming weeks. 

According to the industry-generated 247Sports Composite, Cory is the No. 778 player in the nation, the No. 50 interior offensive lineman, and the No. 24 player in Pennsylvania.

What Ryan Cory brings to the Wisconsin football program

Cory is coming off a remarkable junior season. The 6-foot-4, 290-pound lineman received First-Team All-Conference honors and earned a state championship win.

Looking at his film, there’s a lot to like about his upside. Cory is fearless in creating contact against defenders at the second level while putting out some key blocks for his tailback. His hand speed and placement also stand out.

In pass-blocking reps, the 6-foot-4, 290-pound lineman is a brick wall. Cory can easily contain power moves from opposing linemen with his strength. He rarely gets off balance and consistently creates leverage against defenders. 

Cory will be an excellent depth piece for the offensive line while he works on his craft. If the Pennsylvania native can refine his technique a bit more, he could be an impactful lineman for Wisconsin.

Cory joins Kevin Heywood and Derek Jensen as linemen to commit to UW. The Wisconsin football program now holds 12 commitments in the 2024 cycle.


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Wisconsin Football Lands 2024 Four-Star Offensive Lineman Commit

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Wisconsin football stadium: Camp Randall
Sep 10, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers mascot Bucky Badger prior to the game against the Washington State Cougars at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Madison, Wis. – The Wisconsin football program has picked up a commitment from one of the nation’s premier offensive linemen.

Four-star OT Kevin Heywood took to Twitter to announce his commitment to Wisconsin.

UW beat out offers from some juggernaut programs, including Alabama, Georgia, Penn State, Michigan, USC, and many more.

According to the 247Sports Composite, Heywood is the No. 266 player in the nation, the No. 25 OT, and the No. 5 player in Pennsylvania.

The four-star prospect began his official visit to Wisconsin on June 2nd. He was slated to take officials to Kentucky, Auburn, and USC in the coming weeks. Instead, Heywood decided to commit to the Wisconsin football program on the same weekend.

The Badgers missed out on multiple in-state offensive linemen to Penn State early in the 2024 cycle. Because of that, securing multiple offensive linemen quickly became a priority for UW, and they were able to poach a top player out of Pennsylvania.

What Kevin Heywood brings to the Wisconsin football program

The first thing that jumps out for Heywood is his frame. Standing at 6-foot-7, 280-pound, Heywood stands out in his class, and he uses his size well. He consistently gets his hands at pad level and is able to drive defenders off of the line of scrimmage.

The Pennsylvania native thrives in pass pro. With his size, he’s a brick wall on the offensive front who can easily stop rushers in their tracks.

Heywood is a prototypical Wisconsin offensive lineman. His skill set could make him an immediate difference-maker on UW’s offensive front.

With the commitment, the Wisconsin football program holds 11 commits in the 2024 cycle. Heywood joins in-state OT Derek Jensen as the sole offensive line commits in the 2024 cycle.


Contact/Follow us @Badger_Notes on Twitter. Also, Subscribe to the BadgerNotes Newsletter here. Additionally, like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Wisconsin Badgers news, notes, opinion, and analysis. Also, you can follow Jake Maier on Twitter @JakeJMaier.

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