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Why the D-Air-Y Raid Is Exactly What Wisconsin Football Needed

Wisconsin football is overhauling its offense and transitioning to the dairy raid this fall. Will the change in systems get the Badgers over the hump?



Wisconsin Badgers Football players stretching during fall camp
Wisconsin Badgers head coach Luke Fickell stretches with his players during fall training camp at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison on Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023.

The Wisconsin football team is doing a complete 180 on offense this season. Will it help resurrect the Badgers?

Badgers fans … brace yourselves because the brand of Wisconsin football you’ve known and loved for the past three decades is no longer — at least aesthetically.

The Badgers, known for their ground-and-pound style, are gearing up to embrace the high-flying, pass-happy Dairy Raid offense under the guidance of head coach Luke Fickell and offensive coordinator Phil Longo.

And you know what? I’m here for it.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. UW has built its reputation on a smash-mouth, run-first offense that grinds opponents into submission. They’ve been bulldozing their way to victory for years, the second-most wins in the Big Ten over the last decade, to be exact. But change is in the air, my friends. And while change can be daunting, this transition to the Air Raid can potentially help take the program to new heights.

So, why is this shift so exciting? Let’s break it down.

Why the Wisconsin Badgers Felt the Need to Switch Offensive Systems

When UW canned Paul Chryst, a coach who appeared in three Big Ten championships and won 72% of his games in the middle of the season, it sent a message.

That message was Wisconsin football wants a seat at the big boy table. And if the Badgers wanted to get serious about becoming a playoff contender — they needed to make some wholesale changes — particularly on offense.

Football is a copycat league — any good coach will tell you that. But one major schematic trend that Wisconsin failed to adopt (until now) was the spread offense. Last season, 46% of plays called were passing attempts, which is the second-highest ratio ever and the most since 2007.

But adopting a spread offense doesn’t mean abandoning the run game. We’ve seen Ohio State execute a power-running spread scheme for years now. To compete with the blue blood programs, UW needed to steal elements that accentuate what the Badgers do well and modernize their approach in order to close the substantial talent gap.

But Why Does Wisconsin Football NEED to Change What’s Been Working for Three Decades?

Wisconsin football has produced countless top-10 defensive units since switching to the 3-4 defensive scheme under Dave Aranda. They’ve also won a substantial amount of their games and been a model of consistency. But the offense hasn’t historically been good enough to get the Badgers over the hump against top-tier opponents.

Sure, the running game saw stretches of dominance when the offensive lines were nasty and generational tailbacks filtered through the program, but it was never quite enough.

Wisconsin needed to implement a system dynamic players wanted to be featured in if they wanted to appeal to higher-level recruits more consistently, particularly at quarterback and wide receiver.

Enter Phil Longo, one of the best offensive coordinators in the country.

His system revolves around the quarterback and trusting them to read the defense and quickly distribute the ball to the offensive playmakers so they can operate in space. Historically, his offense produces a ton of explosive plays and puts up video game numbers.

Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?

By transitioning to the Air Raid, the Badgers open the door to attracting top quarterback talents, more agile pass-catchers, and three-down running backs who want to showcase their skills in a modern, pass-oriented system. This transformation could be a game-changer when it comes to recruiting higher-caliber athletes to Wisconsin.

Final Thoughts

Now, of course, change comes with its fair share of challenges. The transition to the Air Raid may require adjustments, patience, and a learning curve for both players and coaches. But with Luke Fickell and Phil Longo at the helm, guiding the ship, the Badgers have a fantastic opportunity to evolve, revitalize their offense, and become a force to be reckoned with in the Big Ten moving forward.

Admittedly, I’m skeptical that the Badgers can recruit at a national championship level because of the weather, academic standards, etc. Still, with a premier head coach and conference realignment taking shape, there’s no telling how high the program’s ceiling could be. 

Wisconsin football wants to be an elite team capable of competing for a spot in the college football playoffs — that’s why making a change this drastic was a no-brainer. Sometimes, you have to risk it for the biscuit, and the athletic department pushed their chips all in. 

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Dillon Graff is a Substack newsletter best-selling author, publisher of AllBadgers, and the owner of, your go-to source for in-depth coverage of the Wisconsin Badgers. His work has been featured in top media publications like USA Today's BadgersWire, Athlon Sports, Bleacher Report, Verbal Commits, Bucky's 5th Quarter, and FanSided.