UW vows no more block parties

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Jeff Potrykus, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
— Although coach Bret Bielema probably won’t announce whether any personnel changes have been made on Wisconsin’s embattled punt-coverage unit, assistant Charlie Partridge plans one change.

Partridge, who oversees the unit, insists he must do his job better.

“I didn’t do a good enough job of getting a glaring issue fixed,” he said.

Partridge was referring to the issue that led to blocked punts against Michigan State and Ohio State. Both plays led to losses that have left UW (6-2, 2-2) scrambling to get back in the race for the Leaders Division title with Purdue (4-4, 2-2) visiting Camp Randall Stadium at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

By now UW fans know all about the breakdowns.

Reserve offensive lineman Robert Burge, a redshirt junior who is on the right side of UW’s three-player shield in front of punter Brad Nortman, twice allowed a defender to blow past him for a block.

The UW coaches decided against personnel changes after the Michigan State loss and chose instead to go over the blocking assignments and calls.

Michigan State attacked the shield with four rushers. Ohio State used only three but Burge slid inside to help Ryan Groy, which allowed Ryan Shazier a clear path to Nortman.

Partridge insisted a decision he made set the stage for the block, which resulted in the Buckeyes taking over at the UW 1.

“I could have adjusted the protection where there was more help to that side,” he said. “That is on me. I could have adjusted who those guys were responsible for up front. We could have been, quite simply stated, more inside-out conscious. You know?”

UW trailed, 10-7, in the third quarter when Nortman lined up to punt. The ball was on the UW 26 and Partridge wanted to get his cover men down the field as quickly as possible against Jordan Hall, a dangerous return man.

“That weakened us in the middle from a count standpoint,” Partridge said. “We had the numbers to match it up but I put them in a challenging position.

“I put those kids in the shield in the position of having to make decisions on the fly. I could have eliminated that and I didn’t.”

First-year assistant DeMontie Cross, the special teams coordinator, acknowledged all options will be on the table this week during practice.

“We have to put the best unit out there,” he said. “And right now it is shown that we haven’t had the execution that we need back there. So we’re definitely going to evaluate everything this week.”

The three-player shield features defensive tackle Ethan Hemer on the left; Groy, a reserve guard, in the middle; and Burge on the right.

“If those are the same three that are the best three, then those three are going to be there,” Cross said. “We’ll look at all personnel and technique to make sure we get some things corrected that we thought we had corrected.

“We’ll move on and we’ll face Purdue and I’m sure they’ll give us the same looks that we’ve seen the past two weeks. We have to go out and execute this week against Purdue.”

Cross was asked if he would understand that observers might question the staff if the decision was made to stick with the same personnel.

“It wouldn’t bother me one bit because we have good chemistry on staff and we work together,” he said. “We’re always going to put the people out there that we think best suits Wisconsin.

“Not what the public thinks or what the media thinks or anyone else for that matter. We believe in what we do. There’s fundamentals. We have to execute those fundamentals.

“We have to put the best payers and the best scheme out on the field to give us that opportunity. We won’t stray from that one bit.”

UW was off Monday, but Tuesday during the Big Ten coaches’ teleconference Bielema reiterated the issue will be addressed again.

“It’s something we’ve corrected, hopefully,” he said. “We’re going to really stress it today and Wednesday and Thursday in practice and also give us a couple different options to go to.”

Last updated: 7:00 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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