From the Field: South Dakota

Nonconference season is finally over, but there's no need tell the Badgers offensive line that. From the view on the sidelines, Wisconsin's big men show the same kind of movement, speed and communication against any opponent, no matter their distinction. From the sidelines, the 2011 Wisconsin offensive line is just as impressive.

The Best

During his press conference after Saturday's game, South Dakota Head Coach Ed Meierkort called UW's Bob Bostad "the best offensive line coach in the country".

Sports Illustrated sent its No.1 photography crew to the Badger game against the Coyotes. The magazine is planning a feature on the Badgers O-line which comes out today.

Last Monday Bill Nagy – the super sub on the 2010 O-line – started at guard for the Dallas Cowboys. The superlatives and recognition that defines what is "the best" continue to roll in for the Badger O-Line.

In 2011 some things have been carried over from 2010 and some of the emphasis has changed. Movement has definitely not changed. Last year right tackle Ricky Wagner could be found downfield at the left hash making blocks on safeties and corner backs. When Rob Havenstein is on the field this year that action is still in the playbook.

Havenstein played lacrosse in high school and his ability to move is remarkable. Similarly center Peter Konz frequently pulls to the outside as lead blocker. What allows this planned movement is the ability of the guards, Travis Frederick and Kevin Zeitler, to ‘communicate' to their left and right. Zeitler and Frederick can frequently be seen handing off a player with a directional block and then move to pick up a second opponent.

Konz, and others, have noted that much more time has been spent in 2011 on pass blocking and the emphasis can been seen on the field as QB Russell Wilson has had plenty of time to complete his passes. So far what has been missing is a more straight ahead style of run blocking. Most of the big running plays have been to the edge.

It will be interesting to see if the Badgers attempt zone blocking or inside traps against Nebraska. The tape of the Badgers' first four games won't show much in the way of power running up the middle. Have they saved this strategy for Nebraska? Strength versus strength? Or has Offensive Coordinator Paul Chryst settled in for attacking the edge?

Rumbling

Anyone standing along the Badgers sideline when a tailback breaks loose might want to keep their head on a swivel. Coach Thomas Hammock will sprint down the sideline, following his charges when they break out. The big fella has all the appearance of being an irresistible force when in motion.

Rotations

A minor injury and the blow out nature of the game gave fans a look at how the coaches are thinking about the depth chart.

Havenstein was the only starter from the O-line to stay on the field with the second unit. He stayed at right tackle, taking as many snaps at the position as possible.

With Shelton Johnson on the sidelines with a bruise, the depth chart for the defensive backfield became a little clearer. Dez Southward took Johnson's place, but for the nickel/3-3-5 packages Peniel Jean was the next player in. Jean played well, including making open-field, one-on-one tackles.

Melvin Gordon was the third tailback to take the field, though he continued to split time with Jeffrey Lewis. Previously Lewis had been the third tailback called on.

The rotation on the defensive line has the entire unit swapping out. Coach Charlie Partridge must be emphasizing chemistry for this group. Jordan Kohout has not lived up to expectations so far and it will be worth watching this unit substitution to see if Kohout can pick up his game as conference play opens.

Hollywood

It's no secret that the footballers get a kick out of watching the video board productions during timeouts. But Jared Abbrederis also used it to see that his punt return for a touchdown was being called back for a penalty as he was running towards the endzone.

A short post this week – no doubt Nebraska Week will be more interesting.


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