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Former Wisconsin tight end Sean Lewis returning to Madison, now as Bowling Green assistant coach

The former two-time Academic All-Big Ten player now helps run an explosive Bowling Green offense that comes to Madison on Saturday.

BGSU Athletics

Sean Lewis called Wisconsin home from 2004-07, at first playing quarterback before transitioning to tight end for former head coach Barry Alvarez in a run-heavy, grinding offense. In Lewis' four seasons, the Badgers won two bowl games and, also, two games in 2005 and 2006 against the Bowling Green Falcons.

Saturday, Lewis will return to Madison but in a different capacity -- in the corner of the opponent he beat twice as a player. In his first year as the inside wide receivers coach at Bowling Green, he'll take in Camp Randall Stadium on the opposite sideline, as the 2-1 Falcons look to win their second consecutive game against a Big Ten Conference opponent in No. 19 Wisconsin.

Last Saturday, Bowling Green came from behind in the final minute to beat the Indiana Hoosiers 45-42 on a 2-yard fade from sophomore quarterback James Knapke to freshman receiver Roger Lewis. Scoring 33 points in the final two quarters, the Falcons amassed 571 total yards, with 395 yards through the air.

The most staggering statistical number: 113. That's not yards rushing for the program many predicted at the top of the Midwest Athletic Conference (MAC) this season. That's not yards receiving by Lewis, who actually had 149 yards receiving by himself.

That's 113 plays of offense by Bowling Green. The combined total Wisconsin's defense has faced all season? 119.

How can one offense, despite facing another spread counterpart in the Hoosiers, rack up so many plays in one game alone?

"Well, we practice that, and we stress tempo with our guys," Lewis said with a slight laugh. "The refs did a great job of setting the ball quick for us, and we were able play at the tempo that we want to play at."

Bowling Green head coach Dino Babers, who was hired in December 2013, brought over Lewis after spending two seasons together at FCS program Eastern Illinois. Babers also implemented a high-octane offense similar to what he saw in his time at Baylor as a wide receivers coach from 2008-11: a spread, uptempo offense known for driving defensive coordinators crazy.

It's quite a stark difference from what Lewis saw as a Badgers tight end. He played most of his career in a pro-style offense under then-offensive coordinator Paul Chryst.

Though the two styles of offense seem to be polar opposites, Lewis was able to note one key similarity.

"I think when playing under coach Alvarez, he always preached toughness -- and it's a big thing that we preach throughout our program, is toughness," Lewis said.

"And we take pride in getting that play talent up, and because of that, we're able to play to our strengths and get into a position in games where teams usually aren't comfortable going with the number of plays, so it's common place for our guys and not so commonplace for our opponents most of the time."

"We're able to play to our strengths and get into a position in games where teams usually aren't comfortable going with the number of plays" -Sean Lewis

Chryst and former head coach Bret Bielema both encouraged Lewis, a two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree, to look into coaching after his playing career.

In 2009, he was an offensive coordinator for Richards High School in his hometown of Oak Lawn, Illinois, the same school he played quarterback for. It was a Wisconsin connection, however, that helped him jump to the collegiate level.

Former Badgers offensive lineman Jason Palermo, a special teams coordinator and tight ends coach for Nebraska-Omaha, helped make an introduction during a coaches' convention. Lewis was hired as the Mavericks' tight ends coach for the 2010 season.

Lewis then went east to Akron for 2011, as he joined the staff of former Wisconsin assistant, then Zips head coach Rob Ianello as a graduate assistant. Kevin Cosgrove, a long-time assistant coach for Alvarez at Wisconsin from 1990-2003, was Akron's defensive coordinator.

He joined Babers' staff at Eastern Illinois in 2012, where he coached two 1,300-yard receivers for the Panthers that combined for 32 combined touchdowns in 2013, and is now currently in his third season under the former Baylor assistant.

Lewis looks forward to coming back to Madison where his college football career started. He doesn't know if any of his old friends or teammates will be at the game, but he hopes to find a little bit of time in between his duties to touch base with a few.

There may be some nostalgia when he steps back onto the Camp Randall field, but he'll be taking in a familiar scene -- just from a different point-of-view.

"You know, it'll just be fun to experience all the traditions, Jump Around and seeing the fans do the wave and just the overall atmosphere," Lewis said, "and it'll be interesting and a fun experience to see it from the other sideline.

"It'll be a lot of fun."