La Crosse, Wisc. (WXOW)- The Packers front office has strong ties to UW-La Crosse. Packers General Manager Brian Gutekunst and Director of Football Operations Milt Hendrickson were apart of the same Eagles coaching staff.
In 1996 Gutekunst coached the linebackers while Hendrickson coached the offensive line.
The pair set up a four day visit with the Eagles coaching staff during the last week of OTA’s.
“The coaching staff was just amazing,” UW-La Crosse Head Coach Mike Schmidt said. “Letting us have full access to film and to meetings and to practices and everything with their team. We took a lot of concepts that we really like and have implemented them throughout the year. ”
Obviously, the Eagles aren’t running exactly what the Packers are running offensively, but Coach Schmidt says the variations they took from the Packers have been a huge factor in their success.
“Our quarterback loves throwing some of the concepts that we’ve taken because we have a quarterback that can stretch the field a little bit more than typical 10-12 yard routes that break off,” Schmidt said. “They have routes that are breaking off at 20-22 yards, and we have a quarterback that can throw it.”
While rooting for the Packers on Sundays, the Eagles enjoy seeing similarities in the offense.
“Pretty funny,” Schmidt laughed. “I’ll get texts from players as they are watching a game on a Sunday, or whenever the games are going on, ‘hey we just saw this play or we saw this play or we saw this route and they know. Some of them we have just completely stolen from them and put them in and some of them are just some variations of what they’re doing.”
The timing of the meeting was right after head coach Matt LaFleur tore his achilles, so they didn’t get much one-on-one time with him, but Schmidt says the change in culture from LaFleur’s hiring is evident.
“Part of what was so alluring from Matt LaFleur was just how many reps people were getting at practice, both sides going, building their program, building their organization with everybody playing and getting reps on both sides of the field.”
Inside the building, the environment resembled what coach Schmidt is creating at UW-La Crosse.
“There is a lot of mutual respect between players and coaches,” Schmidt added. “That’s just really fun to watch because that’s a lot of about what we’re about here is treating those guys as peers and not necessarily as a coach-player kind of relationship.”