Big Ten conference call: Quick hook at Wisconsin

2012-09-11T19:45:00Z 2012-09-11T23:29:19Z Big Ten conference call: Quick hook at WisconsinBy THOMMY DAHLK/Lincoln Journal Star JournalStar.com
September 11, 2012 7:45 pm  • 

After a disappointing 10-7 road loss to Oregon State, Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema decided that his sluggish offense needed a spark.

Bielema rocked the boat by firing offensive line coach Mike Markuson just two games into the season. The Badgers usually stout run-game had combined for just 205 yards on the ground during the first two weeks of the season.

Making a drastic move if needed was something Bielema said he always promised himself he’d do.

“If I didn’t like the direction of how something was going, I wasn’t going to wait until the end just because that’s how it is usually done,” Bielema said during Tuesday’s Big Ten teleconference.

Replacing Markuson will be Omaha native Bart Miller, who had served as the offensive quality control coach during the past year.

Miller, who played football at New Mexico State and moved from Nebraska to Illinois in high school, has definitely earned Bielema’s trust and the respect of the players.

“I was very impressed with him (Miller) early on the way he was able to jump in with both feet,” Bielema said. “He was comfortable, great around people, typical O-line coach and lets his work speak for itself.”

Work in progress

Michigan head coach Brady Hoke has mixed emotions when evaluating his team after the Wolverines' 1-1 start to the season.

“There is a little concern that we have to be better on both sides of the ball,” Hoke said. “Block better and be more physical at the point of attack.”

Although Hoke isn’t completely content with every facet of the Wolverines’ arsenal, he can’t complain about his star quarterback, Denard Robinson.

Robinson is averaging just over 200 yards passing and 100 yards rushing so far this year. He's also found a new favorite target in Devin Gardner, a converted quarterback.

Gardner leads the Wolverines in receiving after two starts, and Hoke said he’s given Michigan a much needed extra weapon.

He still thinks Gardner is just beginning to show what he can do, however.

“It helps him (Gardner) knowing what Denard is looking for,” Hoke said. “I think he is just scratching the surface.”

Encore?

It will be pretty hard for Notre Dame and Michigan State to match the dramatics from the teams’ last meeting in East Lansing, Mich.

Back in 2010, the Spartans pulled off one of the most stunning moves of the season in their overtime win over the Irish.

The play called “Little Giants” was pulled off on a 46-yard field-goal attempt that was supposed to tie the game in OT.

Looking back at the event, Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio has some very fond memories of the fake that jump-started his tenure.

“I had never done that. Not many had," said Dantonio, who suffered a mild heart attack following the win. "It was about the timing of the play. We worked on it, we had just gotten sacked. I just really thought we had a cool customer taking the snaps. We had used a lot of fake ones.… I just felt the pressure had to come to me, not to him (his young kicker). That’s what we did. It’s just a game.”

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