Everything and the Kitchen Sink

Matt Canada (UW Athletics)

After having the belt loosen by then-head coach Bret Bielema, offensive coordinator Matt Canada called the game of his life in the Big Ten title game. Against an even better defense in the Cardinal, Canada's trickery will be in high demand should the Badgers want to win the Rose Bowl.

PASADENA, Calif. – Facing a unit that leads the nation in tackles for loss and sacks, offensive coordinator Matt Canada has learned to respect what is going to be a great challenge for his offense in No.8 Stanford in this afternoon's Rose Bowl.

"They are a disciplined, well-coached team, which is what you would expect," said Canada. "They are not a team that is going to be in the wrong gap. They know what they want to do … It's a cliché we've all used, but they truly are gap sound and assignment sound, and they have very good football players."

Playing a team that is gap and assignment sound is the main reason why Wisconsin is expected to, and needs to, throw everything and the kitchen sink against a Cardinal team that doesn't get rattled very easily.

The Big Ten championship game was a thing of beauty for Canada and the Wisconsin offense. Choosing to empty out the playbook and finally get free reign over his offense, Canada chose every misdirection, tricky alignment, sandlot style play in his arsenal.

"We had a lot of different stuff in to say the least," said tight end Jacob Pedersen of the 70-31 blasting of Nebraska in Indianapolis. "It was real fun. We wanted to mess with them, confuse them a little bit. We did what we wanted to do."

From jet sweeps to motions and separate alignments to wide receiver passes, Wisconsin found its niche in the blowout over the Cornhuskers with the barge formation.

Feeling the formation would work well at Wisconsin because of the size of its linemen, Canada selected White to run the formation because of better mechanics of the huddle; a setup with seven offensive linemen, two tight ends and two tailbacks, with Montee Ball split out wide.

Debuting the formation four times in a 38-13 win against Minnesota, White ran the ball each time for 30 yards, including a 14-yard run around right end for UW's first touchdown on the second series.

But when Wisconsin showed its poker hand and failed to adapt the formation against better defenses, the barge took away from the offense's rhythm in losses against Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State.

Finally throwing multiple wrinkles into the formation for the conference title game, Wisconsin scored two touchdowns on its two variations – one having White handoff to Montee Ball for a 16-yard touchdown and White throwing to Sam Arneson for a two-yard score.

"That was fun," said Canada of the title game. "We had fun with it all week."

"The defense really doesn't know where I am going to run," added White. "I pretty much have free reign where I go. I just read the defense. It's hard for them to make their fits. We ran some different plays and sweeps out of it. Just knowing how teams are going to line up against gives us better leverage on how we're going to block against it."

A front row to the show in Indianapolis, senior quarterback Curt Phillips described Wisconsin's offense as a group that takes what the defense gives them and a group that, "takes the negative plays that they see on film, work on them to improve them and make them pay off."

"It really speaks of the resiliency of the guys," said Phillips.

It also speaks to the resiliency of Canada, who had to overcome injuries to key personnel, a rotating group at quarterback and tradition on the offensive line that prevented him from never having a full arsenal until the postseason.

Canada – who will leave for the offensive coordinator role at North Carolina State following the game – acknowledges that he has been the lightening rod from a lot of restless fans, which was why the results one month ago at Lucas Oil Field still brings a wide smile to his face.

"It's been a grind," said Canada. "We all know. You stick your head in the sand and don't read anything in the papers, but we all understand what's going on. I am proud of our staff. We worked really hard and stuck together."

The same could be said for a Wisconsin offense put through turmoil at every position multiple times throughout the season.

"We knew we had a good game plan going into and it came down to execution," said receiver Jared Abbrederis. "Everybody did their job. That's why we had so much success. We came out with a different energy. All the guys were pumped up, ready to go and it came together at the right time."

With the same type of energy flowing through the team in the days leading up to this afternoon's game, don't expect anything to be left untouched in Canada's playbook.

"We can draw up plays for days and days," said Canada.

It just may help Wisconsin draw up its fourth Rose Bowl championship.

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