Matt Canada to run UW’s offense
The shape of the Wisconsin football team’s coaching staff continues to take shape as head coach Bret Bielema announced the hiring of Matt Canada as the squad’s new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tuesday afternoon.Canada spent the 2011 season in an identical role with Northern Illinois, although he has a total of seven years of experience as an offensive coordinator at NIU, Indiana and Butler as well as 11 years as a quarterbacks coach. He faces the task of replacing Paul Chryst at both positions, who led record-breaking offenses at Wisconsin that averaged 31.9 points and 408.6 yards per game over six years.“Matt has a terrific history as an offensivecoordinator and has excelled at developing quarterbacks throughout hiscareer,” Bielema said. “I know he is very excited about running apro-style offense and handling a game the way we typicallyhave at Wisconsin. I think this is a great hire for us and I can’t waitfor him to get to work with our coaches and players.”While working underneath former Wisconsin defensive coordinator Dave Doeren at Northern Illinois last season, Canada lead a formidable offense that finished within the top 12 in the country in scoring offense, total offense and rushing offense. Both NIU and UW were two of five teams in the nation to average at least 230 yards rushing and passing last season.Huskies’ quarterback Chandler Harnish finished ninth in the country in total offense, averaging 328.2 yards per game 2010. And in his four years at Northern Illinois, Canada has also coached two-time NFL All-Pro running back Michael Turner as well current UW running backs coach Thomas Hammock.Canada employed the spread offense at Northern Illinois and at Indiana, although it appears he is willing to adopt a more traditional scheme to fit Wisconsin’s usual brand of offense.“I’m truly excited for the opportunity to come toWisconsin,” Canada said. “It’s a program that I’ve followed closely for anumber of years. I’ve always been impressed with their tradition,especially offensively with their style of play,and I can’t wait to be a part of that.”Canada began his coaching career at Indiana, where from 1992-95 he acted as a student coach and graduate assistant for running backs, quarterbacks and tight ends. In 1996 he coached quarterbacks and wide receivers at Butler but was promoted to offensive coordinator in 1997. From there he joined the staff at Northern Illinois from 1998-2003, taking the reigns as offensive coordinator in 2003.Canada then returned to Indiana in 2004 to coach quarterbacks and was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2007, remaining in that position until after the 2010 season. Afterward, Canada rejoined Northern Illinois for one last season before making the jump to Wisconsin.The three quarterbacks Canada oversaw at Indiana – Ben Chappell, Kellen Lewis and Blake Powers – hold the school’s top three spots in single-season touchdowns, yards, completions, attempts and completion percentage. Chappell led the Big Ten in passing yards, completions and attempts in 2010 while setting single-season records in all three categories.After announcing the hiring Zach Azzani to coach wide receivers Monday, Bielema now has three vacancies along the coaching staff, with openings for tight ends, offensive line and linebackers.“In this process, I’m putting together a staff thatwill come from different directions to come together to play footballthe way Wisconsin has traditionally played,” Bielema said.