Trying to Find the Right Tackle

After constant verbal motivation to do his job better, junior right tackle Josh Oglesby is back in a competition for his starting right tackle job, as third-year sophomore Ricky Wagner has come on strong since converting from right tackle.

MADISON — Wisconsin football head coach Bret Bielema is not playing games. He is not using the media to send a message. It was not a clever coaching motivation tool.

Bielema announced Monday that Josh Oglesby is no longer in sole possession of the right tackle position after making several mental errors against UNLV last Saturday. He will have to hold off sophomore Ricky Wagner this week in practice to play Saturday against San Jose State. After starting 10 games last season, Oglesby will once again have to earn it.

If the junior offensive lineman didn't think Bielema was serious, he found out quickly. Oglesby was pulled off the No. 1 offensive line half way through practice Tuesday for making the type of mental mistake Bielema said Monday would not be tolerated.

"Josh messed up on a solid call, basically he just didn't fill," senior left tackle Gabe Carimi said. "Then Ricky [Wagner] went in there for all of the ‘Ones' and ‘Twos' for like half the practice."

Which begs the question: Is your Bucky Commemorative glass half full or half empty?

On the one hand, it must be comforting for players, fans and coaches that the Badgers have several starting-worthy offensive lineman waiting in the wings.

Competition ranks as one of football coaches five favorite buzz words. With Wagner pushing Oglesby, Badger fans might finally see the former five-star recruit tap into his vast potential.

"It is no secret, sometimes Josh needs a fire lit underneath him," Carimi said.

For his part, Oglesby isn't shying away from the challenge to his playing time or the miscues Bielema called him out on.

"I think competition is the best thing for any athlete," Oglesby said. "You have to make sure you stay hungry and keep yourself on the right track.

"Anything pre-snap is unacceptable. I had a false start and it is something I have been trying to work on. Timing up the snap, making sure I am not a little bit ahead, just things like that."

For the more pessimistically inclined, however, trouble at one of the tackle spots not caused by injury can be worrisome just one game into the season.

Wagner, a former tight end and walk-on who was just awarded a scholarship this month, "lacks confidence" in Bielema's own words — not exactly a ringing endorsement for a potential starter.

"I think that is something just internally," Carimi said of Wagner's confidence. "You have to start believing that you can take the spot. If Ricky had more confidence, he might have taken the spot a while back."

Not surprisingly, the man either Oglesby or Wagner will be charged to protect, quarterback Scott Tolzien, is thrilled to see a depth battle on his right side. Mark him down for the glass-half full camp.

"That is a good thing in two different ways," Tolzien added. "A. It means that we have depth, the guys underneath are pushing the guys above them. And B. You know competition brings out the best in you. I know everyone in their time in college will be in some sort of competition. It pushes you to be at your best and play at your best."

"Ultimately it makes the team better."

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