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Wisconsin Football: Braelon Allen Could Thrive in the Air Raid Offense



As if Luke Fickell becoming the head coach of the Wisconsin football program wasn’t shocking enough, he wasted little time retaining core players like Braelon Allen and making a transformative hire of his own.

Coach Fickell convinced Mike Leach disciple Phil Longo, who led four consecutive top-15 offenses (nationally) as the offensive coordinator at North Carolina, to leave Chapel Hill and take the same position at the University of Wisconsin.

With him, coach Longo brings a modified air-raid offense – which probably gave some of the older generations a heart attack at the mere utterance of the sentence. That said, he’s done a terrific job adapting the offense to his personnel and accentuating the strengths of his team’s best players – because why wouldn’t you?

Need proof? The Tar Heels’ best offensive season under Longo (more than 41 PPG) came in 2020 when he featured RBs Michael Carter and Javonte Williams, who ran for 1,245 yards and 1,140 yards, respectively.

So, Wisconsin football traditionalists can relax; because the Badgers won’t be throwing the ball 50+ times a game. How do I know this? Because the program has one of the nation’s top running back tandems in Braelon Allen and Chez Mellusi.

What does this mean for Braelon Allen? 

One of the top priorities for Luke Fickell upon taking over the Wisconsin football program was re-recruiting second-team All-Big Ten running back Braelon Allen to stay with the Badgers.

The 6-foot-2, 238-pound RB finished the 2022 season with 230 carries for 1,242 yards (5.4 YPC) and 11 touchdowns. He also caught a career-high 13 passes for 104 yards.

According to Pro Football Focus, the Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin native registered 671 yards after contact, 2.92 yards after contact per attempt, and was the highest-graded starting offensive player for the Badgers (79.6).

Although Allen is a tremendous talent, UW’s inept offensive approach forced him to see a stacked box more than any Power 5 team in the country.

When asked by UW reporters what excited him most about Phil Longo’s offense, Allen’s answer was unsurprising.

“Probably running into six-man boxes and not just knowing every week it’s going to be eight or nine guys in the box on every single play. Playing in an offense that is more spread out, it just automatically is going to loosen up defenses.”

Stock Up: Wisconsin Football Backfield

Wisconsin Badgers running back Braelon Allen (0) and Wisconsin Badgers running back Chez Mellusi (1) have a laugh as part of Wisconsin Badgers football media day at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022.
Badgers Media Day 0853

With the offseason additions of Tanner Mordecai, Nick Evers, and Braedyn Locke, UW now has a QB room consisting of legitimate dual-threat options capable of running Phil Longo’s air raid offense.

With a mobile QB under center, the mere threat of running will keep defenses honest and open up running lanes.

Longo’s offense aims to get the opposing defense as spread out as possible. That way, UW can get the ball to its playmakers and allow its best athletes to make plays in space. The prospect of spacing alone is probably music to Allen’s ears after facing a loaded box the past two seasons.

Second, Wisconsin football returns all five of last season’s starting offensive linemen, retained other high-pedigree linemen in the pipeline, and added impact players in the transfer portal.

According to Pro Football Focus, UW finished with the No. 14 ranked pass-blocking grade and the No. 29 run-blocking unit in 2022.

Wisconsin’s OL room should improve significantly after an entire offseason of growth in the weight room under new strength and conditioning coach Brady Collins because of his impressive track record of player development.

All of these individual parts combined should help Braelon Allen take fewer hits and save some wear and tear on his body — which could play a role in keeping him healthy and putting together a dominant junior season for the Wisconsin football team.

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