Strive for Seven

Citing that the best defenses have a seven or eight-man rotation, defensive line coach Charlie Partridge is focusing his efforts on bringing that kind of rotation to Wisconsin.

Badger Nation: Bret talked about trying different players at different positions. Through winter conditioning, did anything really spark at you at something that might work?

Charlie Partridge: You know, we were just talking about the versatility we see with offenses now allows you to do some of these things. The way we are starting today, we have smaller ends O'Brien Schofield around 240 pounds and Louis Nzegwu at 240 and Brendan Kelly. Faster, quicker, but smaller guys. Then you run into a power team, you need to have the flexibility to maybe move a guy that is 270, 280 out to the edge and be more firm on the outside. That's what excites us as much as anything and having Dan Moore and J.J. Watt as potential guys that can do that for us is a good thing.

Badger Nation: You had Nick Hayden, Mike Newkirk and Matt Shaughnessy, guys that were set at the position they were going to play. Is it almost a nice relief to have guys that can be flexible and can provide different looks to you guys and problems for other offenses?

CP: Yeah, I think it is and as offenses have evolved and some have stayed true to the power offenses, I think it is as much of a response to the change from week to week that you have to have that flexibility. Before the influx of the spread, look at how many spread teams there are in the Big Ten. Who ever thought we'd say that? Now you have to have an answer from week to week what you are going to do with your personnel. I think it's an answer to what we are seeing week to week as much as anything.

Badger Nation: How excited are you to final utilize J.J. Watt and actually have him part of the equation?

CP: I am anxious to see J.J. Watt play. Because he had to sit last year and put so much work into the scout team against our best o-line and did a great job, did a tremendous job in the offseason in terms of what he needed to do strength and weight gain. It's going to be exciting to see him play and get all the coaching he needs to progress as a football player. It's going to be fun.

Badger Nation: You lose some depth with Jasper Grimes and Ricky Garner leaving the program. Does that affect you at all either way or do you have guys that can step in and fill the void they leave behind?

CP: Yeah, I really feel fine. Those are two good kids that decided to move on from the program, but I am really excited about the kids that are here.

Badger Nation: Can you talk to me about Alex Bodin. A guy you don't really recognize but you hear his story about how he wanted to walk on and he's eating with the team in order to bulk up just to have a chance to play. Is that the kind of guy that you love to have because he'll do anything for you guys?

CP: Without question. Just look at the history of this program and how many incredible walk-ons have come through here and contributed. Jim Leonhard is the poster child for that. I don't know about what Alex is going to be able to do out there. He's done a nice job in the offseason conditioning and pursued things the right way. We'll just kind of see how he progresses.

Badger Nation: Coach Bostad's goal was to find out who his five offensive linemen are by the end of camp. Is your goal similar? Do you want to leave to camp knowing who your four are or do you want to know who your two-deep are?

CP: The latter. That's where I think the possessions differ. The best defensive lines I have been apart of as either a player or as a coach have at least seven. You've got to have a seven to accomplish the things you want to accomplish and that is where the positions are just different. It's my goal to come out of spring with seven or eight guys that can roll as we need.

Badger Nation: Your players have talked about that being your dream: having seven or eight guys that can roll in continuously and pound the offense. Can this group, with the people you have here now and maybe the people coming in the fall, give you that?

CP: There are so many unanswered questions with three starters leaving the group, ask me in five practices. The biggest question we need to answer is the end opposite O'Brien. I feel like we have a good group of tackles that will battle it out and the cream will rise. That other end spot, you have Brendan Kelly coming off his redshirt year and Louis Nzegwu, who is now in year three and Louis needs to get going. He's no longer a running back. Those years are far enough gone where you need to see the fruits of his labor.

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