Oct. 10, 2010
MADISON, Wis. -- UW coach Bret Bielema can remember sitting in a meeting room at Iowa while the Hawkeyes defensive coordinator Norm Parker, a diabetic, gave himself an insulin shot.
Earlier this season, Parker was hospitalized with complications from his diabetes. Last Wednesday, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz revealed that Parker had his right foot amputated.
There’s no timetable for Parker’s return to the team. The Hawkeyes play at Michigan next Saturday and they come home to play host to the Badgers on Oct. 23 at Kinnick Stadium.
Bielema has the greatest respect for Parker, who just turned 69.
“He has been a huge influence on me,” Bielema said Sunday. “From an X’s and O’s standpoint, he has probably been the most influential person in my coaching career.”
What defines Parker as a coach? “Just his mentality and approach to the game,” Bielema said. “Basically, he emphasizes doing one thing, doing it well and doing it better than anybody can emulate.”
This type of simplicity and focus, in a sense, will also be a point of emphasis for the Badgers in their preparation for Saturday night’s game against No. 1-ranked Ohio State at Camp Randall Stadium.
“The bottom line is this,” Bielema said. “Each player has to approach it with the mindset, ‘I’m playing the guy across from me. I have to have success for us to all have success.’ That simple.”
Does the fact that the Buckeyes are sitting atop the national polls add to the matchup? “You’re not going to ignore it,” Bielema said. “But we have to stay focused. There will be a lot of opportunities to be distracted this week because we’re playing the No. 1 team in the country.”
Bielema cited ESPN College GameDay’s presence on campus being “great exposure for our program and recruiting, but I’m also not naïve. I know they’re covering No. 1.”
Three years ago, the Badgers took a 17-10 third-quarter lead over the then No. 1-ranked Buckeyes in Columbus. Ohio State ended up rallying for a 38-17 victory.
One of the greatest games in Camp Randall Stadium history (albeit ancient history) took place in 1942 when the Badgers knocked off No. 1-ranked Ohio State.
Bielema probably saw some “old school” in this season’s Buckeyes when he broke down film of their defense. “They play solid football,” he said, adding that quarterback Terrelle Pryor has expanded his game. “For him to take it to another level, they had to bring out the passing element.”
Are there some things to be learned from the Minnesota victory that will also have application for Ohio State? “There were several film clips of our offensive line,” Bielema said, “where you can see everyone has got a hat-on-a-hat. For the most part they executed their game plan.”
Especially in the first and third quarters when the Badgers dominated the Gophers.
“My point is that the formula is not going to change,” Bielema said. “For us to have success this week we have to play the way we practice. We have to win on Sunday.”
That would be the tailback tag team of John Clay and James White.
“They each take advantage of certain plays when they’re in the game,” Bielema said, noting Clay bulldozing a would-be tackler inside the 5-yard-line and carrying him into the end zone. “We put that as a point of emphasis that bigger things are being accomplished.”
Bigger than that one score.
Bigger than that one game.
Big on big?
To be continued Saturday.