More BadgerBlitz.com: Q&A with Coach Huxtable
MADISON - Any speculation on the defensive side of the ball, at least in regards to coaching vacancies, can be squashed.
Via press release Tuesday afternoon, Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema promoted former defensive line coach Charlie Partridge and former secondary coach Chris Ash to co-defensive coordinators.
They will combine to pick up where Dave Doeren, UW's former defensive coordinator and current head coach of Northern Illinois, left off.
"I'm thrilled to be able to promote Chris and Charlie to co-defensive coordinators and keep the continuity of our defensive staff intact," Bielema said. "They have both done terrific jobs during their time at Wisconsin and, with a number of key returning players on that side of the ball, I'm eager to watch them continue to develop good players."
Already familiar with one another - Patridge and Ash were college teammates at Drake before coaching on the same staff in 1996-97 - both coaches have a great deal of respect from current and former players.
Partridge, aside from his unit's success both on and off the field, has had a great amount of success on the recruiting trail. His primary focus centered on areas in south Florida. He's responsible for landing such recruiting standouts as James White, David Gilbert and Isaiah Williams.
Ash, though he's only been in the program for one complete season, coached three of his four starting defensive backs to All-Conference levels. Antonio Fenelus was tabbed first team All-Conference at cornerback, Aaron Henry earned second team distinction during his first season at safety and Niles Brinkley was honorable mention. While he had a number of players receive accolades, the secondary had its fair share of success and disappointment throughout the season, including a disheartening performance in the Rose Bowl.
In addition to promoting both Ash and Partridge, Bielema also announced the hiring of former Central Florida defensive coordinator Dave Huxtable to coach linebackers.
Fresh off an 11-3 season, capped by a 10-6 win over Georgia in the Liberty Bowl, Huxtable will provide UW with a wealth of experience having already coached for 29 years, including the past seven as defensive coordinator for the Golden Knights.
"I think Dave is a great addition to our staff," Bielema said. "He brings a ton of experience, having coached the linebacker position virtually his entire career. His defenses at UCF were very well-coached, as evidenced by their success this season. As good a coach as he is, he is even a better person and he will fit into our staff very well."
Joining Huxtable in Madison is a lengthy track record of savvy defensive statistics. Last season, one of the best ever in UCF history, Huxtable coordinated a defense that ranked eight nationally in scoring defense (17.1 ppg), eighth in rushing defense (108.4 ypg) and 15th in total defense, allowing only 315.4 yards per game. During the 2009 season, Huxtable's Golden Knights' defense was even better. That year, UCF ranked fourth in the country in rushing defense (82.8 ypg), sixth in sacks (38) and tied for seventh in fumbles recovered (16).
"I'm really excited about the opportunity to coach at Wisconsin," Huxtable said. "The University of Wisconsin is a top-notch program with great tradition. When I came up to visit I was so impressed with the people, the coaching staff and Coach Bielema. I'm very excited to get the opportunity to work for him.
"I'm looking forward to getting up to Madison and winning football games."
During his seven-year tenure at UCF, Huxtable was part of a team that earned two eight-win seasons (2005, 2009), a 10-win season (2007) and an 11-win season (2010). As defensive coordinator the past three seasons, Huxtable's defense helped UCF average just less than eight wins per year.
In coming to Wisconsin, Huxtable will likely have an impact immediately in a linebacker core that loses two seniors to graduation, but returns a host of young talent including both Mike Taylor and Chris Borland. He will also provide an impact with special teams units having coached that area during his first four seasons at UCF.
Before joining UCF in 2004, Huxtable spent the beginning part of the decade coaching linebackers at North Carolina. There, Huxtable helped turn one of the least inexperience linebacker units into one of the ACC's finest. Two of his three starting linebackers were named to All-Conference teams and eventually drafted into the NFL.
Huxtable also has coaching experience at Oklahoma State, East Carolina, Georgia Tech, Western Kentucky and Iowa State.
Bielema, who now has a complete defensive coaching staff after losing Doeren to Northern Illinois, seems to be done for the moment. Offensive coordinator Paul Chryst will get a raise after the UW Athletic Board of Regents approves his new contract in February. Offensive line coach Bob Bostad reportedly shunned an opportunity to interview with Mack Brown and Texas for the same position.
"Over the last month I have witnessed how much respect our staff and program have nationally, both because the interest other programs have in talking to our coaches and also the number of terrific coaches who expressed interest in joining our staff," Bielema said. "It truly shows that this is a special place to work. I am appreciative to the members of our staff who have stayed because I know they have been presented excellent opportunities but chose to remain at Wisconsin."