August 12, 2010

Catching up with coach Partridge

MADISON - Since Charlie Partridge took the defensive line coaching position during the spring of 2008, the position has seen steady improvement but always seems to be the area most highly questioned.

Fall 2010 is no different.

After losing three starters from a year ago, including breakout end O'Brien Schofield, the defensive line has plenty of holes to fill. Looking to find some answers to a few questions, caught up with Partridge.

The following is a question and answer with the defensive line coach.

(Editors note: This interview was conducted Tuesday afternoon. The team didn't practice in pads until Wednesday afternoon.)
Well a couple of days in how are you liking the group so far?

Partridge: Good so far, but it's hard to tell as a line coach until you get the pads on. I'm anxious to get going.

Last year you made it clear at this time that you wanted to get a rotation going at defensive tackle. Is that the same thing again?

Partridge: Yeah, we're shooting for eight total. We'd like to go four and four if we can and see how it goes.

On Monday coach Bret Bielema was talking about Kyle Costigan. Is he as strong as advertised?

Partridge: Yeah, he's a strong kid. It's carrying over to the football field as far as you can tell now. He's got some pretty incredible strength to him for a kid his age.

Is he a contender to get into that rotation?

Partridge: Hard to say. All those kids, it's a completely different game once the pads come on. I couldn't answer that.

Just talk about some of the returning guys, the Patrick Butrym's, did you like what you saw out of them from a leadership standpoint, too?

Partridge: Yeah, they had a great summer. The three guys that you're looking at as leaders are the three oldest guys. J.J. Watt is the most and Pat is probably next. That's based on playing time. Then you go Louis Nzegwu because he's in the same class. But Louis role was a role player last year. He's finding his way into that starting position if things continue the way they do. The leadership will come.

Is that what you're hoping for at this stage in their career? Are you starting to see some of these things start to shine through for some of these guys that are starting to become upperclassmen?

Partridge: It's got to come from the top down. A guy that has paid his dues and a guy that's been through this program and understands what it's about…that's the kind of guy that's got to lead for you.

Just talk about J.J. Watt at the outside. Is there any talk of moving him inside at all?

Partridge: There's times. There are certainly times we could if it's against a team if maybe it's a spread team. It's kind of like we talked about some last year. It kind of depends on what they're doing and how the other ends around him develop, the Tyler Dippel's of the world and those guys. A lot of that affects it to.

Are you fine with him at either end or tackle?

Partridge: Yeah, no problem. Honestly it's finding the best four guys on the field and then finding the next four guys that can roll in and be effective. If that puts J.J. inside, then we put J.J. inside. Right now he's an end all the way unless something unforeseen happens or the tackles don't develop like we hope they do.

Is that where he's most comfortable? Outside?

Partridge: That's where he's spent most of his time. We have, over the course of the last couple of years, gotten him some reps at defensive tackle in the event that happens. But yeah, that's where he spent most of his time.

How about Jordan Kohout? Is he at a level you were hoping to see him at?

Partridge: Yeah, the advantage of him coming in a semester early is showing up now. For a guy, he's not a normal redshirt freshman. With that extra spring he's able to assimilate and get ahead. It's really showing up. He had a nice summer with the strength guys and a nice couple of days without pads.

Was the transition from high school to college tougher for him? Did you notice that he was having a tough time at all?

Partridge: I don't think tougher than anyone else. It's a tough transition for any of these guys. The schedule that we demand on them, it wasn't any harder for Jordan than anyone else.

From this point to the end of fall camp, what are you trying to see between Louis and David Gilbert as far as how they are going to separate themselves at the other defensive end spot?

Partridge: You can ask the four of them and they can tell you the same thing. There's four things in my mind when it comes to playing time. It's trust on and off the field, using technique that they're being coached, minimize mental errors and produce. Those four things, without a question for anyone on the d-line, will determine who's playing and how much.

So either one of those two guys that does those four things better is going to separate themselves?

Partridge: Either one. Yeah, with a combination of those four someone will rise.

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