Doing More with Less

Junior running back Montee Ball was the poster child this offseason for weight loss, losing a noticeable 15 pounds off his frame to be more explosive while still maintaining his power. Sophomore defensive tackle Beau Allen followed the same diet outlined, although he went twice as far as Ball.

MADISON – When Montee Ball showed up for spring camp roughly 15 pounds lighter, onlookers saw a running back with more speed and agility while still keeping the power of his running game. His loss drew headlines about how much of a positive impact it could have on his game. Sophomore defensive tackle Beau Allen made a similar decision to Ball, although his came on a much grander scale and has been reported about on a much smaller scale.

The results, however, are exactly the same for both Ball and Allen, who are each putting up career numbers to begin the 2011 football season. Through five games for No.4 Wisconsin, Ball leads the team with 511 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns while Allen has three sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss on the season, the most among the defensive tackles.

"It (was) a little bit more magnitude with Beau," UW coach Bret Bielema said. "I think we're talking about 30 pounds instead of 10 or 15. But, Beau, again, I think he kind of saw that he could be a lot more explosive at a lower weight and did a nice job of getting it off and then putting it back on correctly."

After committing to Wisconsin in December 2009, Allen had the goal and mindset of coming in and carrying on the family legacy of contributing to the Wisconsin program. After all, Allen's grandfather, Fred T. Westphal, was six-time All-American as member of UW swim team from 1956-59 and a charter inductee into the UW Athletic Hall of Fame. His uncle, John Westphal, was also a two-year letterwinner in football at UW from 1980-81.

But after playing nose guard and fullback full time at Minnetonka (MN) High, Allen found himself out of breath and filling slow in his pursuit and in the trenches. When he tipped the scales at 340 pounds after the Rose Bowl, Allen went through the treacherous process of trying to lose bad weight while simultaneously putting on good weight.

"It was a slow process that way," said Allen, who weighed in around 310 pounds at the start of the season. "I felt it in spring ball and I noticed it right away that I was quicker, faster and I could go harder and longer. I feel like I can play more explosive, more consistently and play harder because my endurance is there."

The results speak for themselves, especially over the last two games. Against South Dakota and Nebraska, Allen has seven tackles, two sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss.

"I think (defensive line coach) Charlie (Partridge) and myself both have been kind of poised for Beau to take a big jump here in the last couple weeks and moving into these next two weeks, because he's really come in and played as a freshman," Bielema said. "I think he played more off ability than skills and knowing what he's supposed to be doing, but he has really done a nice job during practice and playing at a pretty high level right now."

Allen failed to record a TFL in 13 games as a true freshman last year but has recorded sacks in three of the last four games. A sack for a defensive lineman is like an interception for a defensive back in the sense it usually opens the floodgates by leading to more.

"I've also gotten a little lucky, too, so I was really pumped up when I got that first one," Allen said. "I feel like it's a mindset that once you get that first one, mentally you know you can make plays and know what you are capable of."

Allen's developmental has been another key cog in the middle of Partridge's unit, as the Badgers coaches have inserted Allen on the second team with sophomore Jordan Kohout and behind starters Patrick Butrym and Ethan Hemer. It's been a productive front.

Although the Badgers have allowed three teams to rush for over 100 yards, the defensive line helped hold Northern Illinois senior quarterback Chandler Harnish to 162.8 yards below his season average and hold Nebraska to 105.4 yards below its season rushing average.

"It's great, it's wonderful and we've got good things going up front," said Hemer. "The rotation keeps us fresh and we have guys like Beau, Jordan and Butrym doing good things."

The positive vibes are widespread. Of the 56 possessions Wisconsin's defense has been on the field this season, the opposing offense has failed to get a first down 23 times (41.1 percent). The Badgers have recorded 19 3-and-outs, they have forced two turnovers and two drives ended halves.

The Wisconsin's defensive is clicking and the line is starting to ramp up the pressure, having registered 10 of the team's 12 sacks and are going against an Indiana offense that is struggling with consistency from the quarterback position. It's another chance for a slimmer Allen and his linemates to add to the Hoosiers' offensive woes.

"Last year, I felt there weren't as many people making plays as there has been in the first five games this year," Allen said. "We definitely feel we are all capable of making big plays. I think we are starting to play with that mentality."

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