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UW hires new offensive coordinator

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Jeff Potrykus, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
January 18, 2012
— Northern Illinois head coach Dave Doeren worked with Matt Canada for only one season.

Yet that was enough time for Doeren, an assistant at Wisconsin from 2006-’10, to offer a glowing review of Canada, who was named offensive coordin-ator/quarterbacks coach at UW on Tuesday.


“You’re getting a guy who has a great passion for the game,” said Doeren, who hired Canada away from Indiana after the 2010 season and gave him the title of offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at NIU. “He is a tremendous personality. Our players and coaches loved working with Matt.


“He will do a great job up there.”


Nevertheless, the hiring of Canada is sure to raise questions as UW moves on without Paul Chryst, who ran the offense from 2005 through last season before taking over the Pittsburgh program.


UW coach Bret Bielema, who said Canada was the 12th candidate he interviewed for the position and the only one to receive a job offer, has not wavered from his initial stance that UW would continue to run a pro-style offense.


Canada ran a spread attack at Northern Illinois and the Huskies finished in the top 12 nationally in scoring offense (12th, 38.3 points per game), total offense (11th, 476.0 yards per game) and rushing offense (12th, 234.1).


Northern Illinois and UW were among five teams that averaged at least 230 yards rushing and passing.


The Huskies won the Mid-American Conference title and finished 11-3 overall, but one of the losses was a 49-7 decision to UW at Soldier Field in Chicago.


UW limited the Huskies to 11 first downs and 237 total yards.


Canada also was involved in running a spread attack at Indiana (2004-’10). He coached quarterbacks for all seven seasons with the Hoosiers, was the passing game coordinator in 2005 and ‘06 and was the sole offensive coordinator from 2007-’10.


However, during Canada’s formative years as an assistant coach at Northern Illinois (1998-2003), the Huskies ran a pro-style attack under coach Joe Novak.


“He used to be a pro-style (coach) back with Novak,” Bielema said by phone from Pittsburgh. “And then just because of where he has been he has had to be different… you can only do certain things with those personnel groupings.


“I didn’t want everybody to start thinking: ‘Oh my God, we’re moving to a spread.’


“We’re not.”


During his first stint at Northern Illinois, Canada coached running backs (1998-2000) and quarterbacks (2001 and ‘02) and took over as offensive coordinator in 2003.


During that time he coached tailback Michael Turner, a standout in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons, and tailback Thomas Hammock, who recently finished his first season on UW’s staff.


“Obviously he’ll have to go back to his roots,” Doeren said, “but he is so smart he will be able to adjust.”


Canada is the second assistant hired this week. He joins wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni, who was offensive coordinator at Western Kentucky last season.


“I’m truly excited for the opportunity to come to Wisconsin,” Canada said in a UW release. “It’s a program that I’ve followed closely for a number of years.”


Canada recruited the states of Wisconsin and Minnesota during his two stints at Northern Illinois. But Bielema said he wasn’t certain yet which areas the new members of the staff will be assigned.


“I’m going to wait and see,” he said. “I’ve got three more hires so we’ll wait and see how that stuff pans out.”



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