Charlie Partridge arrived in Madison just six weeks ago to begin his first season as the defensive line and specialists coach at the UW. Partridge played college football at Drake with current Wisconsin defensive coordinator Dave Doeren, and comes to Madison after a five-year coaching stint at Pittsburgh.
As an assistant at with the Panthers, who were ranked No. 5 nationally and led the Big East in total defense last season, Partridge coached the defensive line for his first four seasons before switching to linebackers in 2007. He had special teams coaching responsibilities for the past three seasons, including the previous two as special teams coordinator. Prior to his years at Pittsburgh, Partridge served as recruiting coordinator and defensive line coach at Eastern Illinois in 2002, was a defensive graduate assistant at Iowa State and worked as a graduate assistant at his alma mater in 1996-97. A three-year starter at Drake, Partridge was a NSCA All-America defensive lineman and team captain for the Bulldogs.
UWBADGERS.COM sat down with Partridge for a short Q&A to learn more about the new coach.
What has it been like here in Madison so far
The people have been great. I really enjoy the coaching staff, which is where I am spending most of my time. Obviously I already knew defensive coordinator Dave Doeren. We played college ball together, so it has been good to be back with him. Coach Bielema has been great. I really enjoy getting to know the other guys. This is a good, hardworking staff and I have enjoyed being around them a lot.
Have you had a chance to check out the city yet
A little bit. The most driving around Ive done is looking for a home and we were able to find a place. My wife is going to get out here the end of April, so we are getting close to finally having a place to live. Things are coming together. I am still living out of a duffel bag so it will be good to finally have a home here in a few weeks.
What is it like to be coaching alongside Dave (Doeren), your former teammate at Drake
The good thing is that we also had a chance to coach together. We went back and coached at our alma mater for a few years, so I knew his coaching style. The thing that I was anxious to see was how far he has come as a coach since we split. He has really developed and become a great defensive coach, and put himself in a position where I know he will do a great job as our new defensive coordinator. It has been fun to see his progress as a coach.
What is it like coaching under Bret Bielema
He is the first guy I have worked for who I knew before he was a head coach, so I was anxious to see him in that role because I didnt know what to expect. I have had the good fortune of working under some really good coaches, and Bret is good. There are guys that have the ability to be a head coach at this level. He has those things. He has those intangibles. He has the leadership qualities, the charisma. I think coach Alvarez made a great choice when he named Bret as our head coach. It has been fun.
How helpful is it to have coached different positions at various colleges
It has definitely helped me. You have to learn how to one, talk recruiting. You have to learn how to sell different things to get kids to want to come to school here. Wisconsin is not a hard sell. Just the prestige of the Big Ten [is appealing] and how gameday is here, which I havent experienced yet and cant wait to see. [It helps to have] the experience of recruiting for the 1-AA level, high school coaching experienceso I got to see that other end of it, and recruiting in the Big Eastwhere you really have to fight for every recruit that you get. That experience just better prepares me to recruit for a school of this kind of prestige. Then having coached defensive line and linebackers helps me get a big picture for the defense and help that way. And with my primary focus of having played defensive line, I think it is a good time to get in here with a lot of young defensive linemen and hopefully help them develop.
What are your goals for the special teams units this year, especially with the loss of Taylor Mehlhaff and Ken DeBauche in the kicking game
Just to make sure that those guys, whoever our punter ends up being and whoever our place kicker ends up being, do a good job of hang time, placing the ball so we can cover it and giving our guys a chance to cover the ball successfully. Also important is hang time and getting the ball off quickly so we dont put our protection in a bad spot. If we can do those things, then we will do well in the punters spot, but I dont know who that is going to be yet. At the place kicking position, my ultimate goal has always been that if we are perfect from 42 yards or in and perfect on our PATs, then we are happy with how our field goal kicker and place kicker does. If we can do that, then I will be real, real happy at the end of the season.
What kinds of things are you working on the most with the defensive line this spring
Easy question, and the answer is fundamentals. Purely fundamentals. The thing about defensive line is that you cant misstep. You cant step out of place. If you step a couple inches the wrong way, you are in trouble and that is the thing that we are going to focus on more than anything this spring, is to get these guys as fundamentally sound as we can by the end of 15 practices. We are taking small strides towards getting to that point. We have a lot of young guys practicing right now. Matt Shaughnessy is really the only one who has a ton of game experience who is actually practicing for us right now. The next most experienced guy is Jeff Stehle, and his role was not as a starter last year, but he played. We have a lot of fundamental work to do because the guys are young, so that is our focus.
What was your favorite thing about playing college football
I think the best thing, and this is probably true with any sport at any level, is the relationshipsthe relationships with teammates, the relationships with coaches. There is nothing like, in my opinion, the sport of football because you have 100-plus guys from all walks of life. Every race is represented, every economic group is represented. You have guys from big cities, small towns, farms and inner cities all meshed together trying to achieve one common goal. There is nothing better than that. It has always been that for me, and I dont see it changing no matter where I am.