Doeren's Not Done Yet

Despite getting his first head coaching job, Dave Doeren's business isn't finished with the University of Wisconsin. Preparing the game plan for the Rose Bowl and TCU, Doeren's players can't say enough about his unselfish attitude.

MADISON – There were two objectives for Wisconsin defensive coordinator Dave Doeren after his team beat Northwestern the Saturday after Thanksgiving: interview and possibly get a head coaching job and coach and win the Rose Bowl.

Once Doeren accomplished task one - getting the opportunity to lead the Northern Illinois program starting this season – he approached task number two, and got the response he was hoping for.

When Head Coach Bret Bielema hired Doeren on his initial staff in 2006 as co-defensive coordinator, the group had a collective desire to follow departing Coach Barry Alvarez and his establishing the Rose Bowl being the ultimate destination for his program.

So when the Badgers, despite going 12-1 that first season, missed out on the Rose Bowl, Doeren's hunger remained.

"Even though we had a great first season here, we weren't in the Rose Bowl," Doeren said. "You know every time we walk in our office you see those three Big Ten championship trophies and what they represent. To be a part of us going (to Pasadena), I wanted to finish the ride."

That is why Doeren approached Bielema and requested to stay on through the Rose Bowl.

"I asked him: 'Is this something we can talk about or is it out of the question?'" Doeren said. "He said we can absolutely talk about it. He's been through this having to transition here. He knows the stress and strains of it. He's been awesome to work with."

The thoughts from his players are reciprocated, a main reason the players on defense are so eager to send Doeren out a winner when No.4 Wisconsin plays No.3 TCU in the 97th Rose Bowl Jan.1 in Pasadena, Calif.

Wisconsin was ranks 22nd nationally and third in the Big Ten in total defense, giving up 323.5 yards per game, has forced 16 takeaways in the last four games and been whistled for only one pass interference penalty all season.

"It says a ton about him and says he is committed to the guys on this defense," senior cornerback Niles Brinkley said. "He's not backing out and being selfish, because some coaches would leave because they have to go recruit. He's been there from the beginning and we appreciate that."

After shedding the ‘co' in his defensive coordinator after the 2007 season, his first season had people wondering if Bielema had made the right decision in firing current Northwestern defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz. The Badgers finished 37th in total defense (329.1 ypg), 44th in rushing defense (133.3 ypg) and 66th in scoring defense (26.5 ppg).

But according to senior Jay Valai, after guys started accepting the schemes Doeren was throwing at them, the results started to show, especially after the Badgers capped a 10-win season by overwhelming Miami defensively to finish 17th in the nation in total defense, giving up 305.7 yards per game.

"One thing we learned is the whole is greater than the pieces," Valai said. "Our schemes have gotten better and our play has gotten better. He could be easily gone, but he's doing two things at once. He realizes he wouldn't be where he is today without us and we wouldn't be where we are today without him. We have all the respect for Coach Doeren, because he's going to be a great football coach."

Although Doeren's expertise is with the linebackers, his impact can be felt all over the defensive side of the ball, especially with junior defensive end and Lott Impact Award winner J.J. Watt.

Watt has registered a stat in every defensive category except ‘safety' this year, recording 59 tackles, 21.0 TFLs for 91 yards, 7.0 sacks for 56 yards, an interception for 15 yards, seven pass break ups, 10 QB hurries, two fumble recoveries, three forced fumbles and three blocked kicks.

Not calling a lot of blitzes or calling slants and switches, Doeren turns players like Watt loose, and it's helped benefit the entire unit.

"He lets us play our game," Watt said. "Some teams think you have to do all that to have an advantage, but he lets us play our game and we've had a lot success because of the way he coaches."

The excitement of having Doeren stay through the bowl game is also in part because the Horned Frogs provide a huge challenge defensively. Ninth nationally in total offense at 491.5 yards per game, the Frogs have recorded six games with over 500 yards in total offense, including four of the last five contests.

TCU has had at least 375 yards in each game this season while topping 400 yards in 10 of 12 contests.

"They have nine seniors, several of them are redshirt seniors," Doeren said. "They are very experienced (and) they do a ton of stuff. They do a lot of empty sets, four wide, two tight ends, fullback, a little bit of everything. We're going to try to make them work. That's what we do."

And if Doeren and his players can do that, he'll feel exactly how his seniors will, leaving Wisconsin on top.

"It's the pinnacle of what you do in this conference," Doeren said of the Rose Bowl. "Obviously you can get into a bigger game, but it represents the champion of this league, which to me is a great, great league with great coaches and great players. It's a great accomplishment.

"This place is five years of my life. I've got great relationships. I love these guys and they work hard for me. I told them the reason I'm going is they gave me that opportunity. They played hard for me and they did what they asked them to do. We've got one more game together, so let's make the most of it."

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