The New Leader of the Line

Although his humor is at a different level compared to John Moffitt and Peter Konz, junior center Travis Frederick has developed the same level of leadership from his predecessors, allowing himself to emerge as the leader of the Badgers' offensive line.

MADISON - Every year, Wisconsin fans and the media are blessed with a dynamic personality and leader at the offensive line position. Two years ago during Wisconsin's Big Ten championship and Rose Bowl run, John Moffitt was the vocal leader and funny man of the group. He also was a tenacious, fiery player, a reason he was selected with the No.75 pick in last year's NFL Draft.

And with junior center Peter Konz taking him and his infectious laugh to the NFL, UW's offensive line is looking for a new leader. Enter junior center Travis Frederick.

Once the first true freshman in program history to ever start his first game on the offensive line, Frederick has been a solid contributor at both center and left guard over his career, and now will take over for Konz under center. More importantly he's taken over the leadership role, telling Badger Nation that his goal this spring is to master coach Mike Markuson's new offense so he can spent the summer helping the younger players understand the goals and tradition of one of UW's proudest positions.

Without Peter Konz, Josh Oglesby and Kevin Zeitler, three guys who are likely going to be drafted this weekend, how has the line dynamic changed this year compared to last year?

Frederick: It's been a little different, but for the most part has stayed the same. I think those three made us a close knit group and taught us how to lead the group. I think that group of seniors learned from the seniors before them and the group before them. It makes the tradition of the offensive line of who we are and what we do passed down. This year is a little different without those guys, but the group as a whole as stayed pretty much the same.

How has the philosophy changed from offensive line coach Bob Bostad to offensive line coach Mike Markuson?

Frederick: It's definitely been different. There are some different things with technique and what the coaches focus on. Coach Bostad was more footwork first while coach Markuson talks more about using your hands and using your upper body more first. In the end they are both coaching very similar things, but it's just the approach toward it. They are a little different off the field and a little different on the field. We're still trying to figure out what the drills are and what he wants. Over time it'll get better.

Ryan Groy said it's refreshing to have a new coach because you learn different things. I am curious if you agree with that and what have you learned with Markuson that is making you a better player?

Frederick: I agree with that. For me it's a great opportunity because I got to learn from one of the best offensive line coaches in the country for three years and take away as much as I could from that coach. I remember that stuff and add to that with what the new coach is trying to teach me. It's like taking the best of both worlds and putting it together and make myself a better player overall. I think the opportunity to be able to do that is good. I've done a lot more with my upper body, my hands and the way I do certain things with the new coach that I haven't previously focused on in the past. Putting those two different styles together will make me a better player.

When you watch film from last year or reflect on last year with the amount of rushing yards your team had and the protection the quarterbacks had, how much momentum can that give your line this year despite the new personnel and style?

Frederick: I think we were really starting to click into the system coach Bostad was trying to put in. He came in when John Moffitt and Gabe Carimi were just starting and we were changing some things that had just finally become static last year. We were getting to the point where the system was really coming along, and I think that's really helpful for us. Obviously a bunch of things change, but we get to build on that. Overall, everybody has bought in and learned the system to the point that it became second nature and there weren't a lot of changes from year to year.

How was winter conditioning for you and how did you approach it to get your body right for the spring?

Frederick: For the offensive line during spring, we typically do things a little different. We lift as hard as we normally would during the season during spring ball. We don't take time off. In our group, we have a six month training process instead of an eight week program, spring ball, take a break and then have another eight week program. We train our bodies the whole time, so it allows us to do it a little differently. Coach Bott has us on a great program.

The aim for my body is try to get more flexibility and mixed motion stuff. I wanted to get my body moving a little faster, especially in my lower half to have better range of motion and some speed. My biggest focus was to make sure the young guys were coming along in the weight room, on the field and trying to get everybody together to figure out the new playbook. The focus wasn't as much on strength for me as it has been in the past.

You talked about mentoring the younger guys. Talk about what impresses you about freshman Dan Voltz, who followed your lead by enrolling a semester early and basically mirrors you by playing center and left guard?

Frederick: Voltz has come in and done a really great job. He wasn't a guy that came in and felt he was ‘big time.' A lot of times you are guy coming in that was one of the best players in your conference, and coming into a bigger program gives you a shock. Dan just came in ready to work and never claimed to be better than he was or anybody he wasn't. He was quiet, went to work, lifted hard in the weight room and is a strong kid. He worked hard to get the playbook down and I love the way he works in practice. He's getting the technique down, he has great fundamentals and he'll be a very good player after he gets little things here and there.

How much do you think enrolling early helped your career? Do you think you would be where you are today if you didn't come in a semester early? Where do you think you'd be if you didn't enroll early?

Frederick: I think it helped me a lot. I don't know if I would be ready to play in that first game that I started in my true freshman year. Who knows if I would have played at all? I may have redshirted. There are a lot of ‘what ifs' there. Maybe my second year instead of redshirting I wouldn't have played at all, so I would have lost four games of experience. I just think it had a domino effect on me. I think it definitely benefited me to get here, learn the playbook and hone my skills from there instead of just trying to get the plays down.

What's your big focus this spring? What are you trying to accomplish this spring in addition to learning Markuson's new verbage and style?

Frederick: I am just trying to pick everything up so I can help over the summer. One of the big focuses myself if getting the verbage and plays down so I can help bring the younger guys along in the summer. For me, I've had a big focus on my hands and my pad level. My footwork in general has been OK, but I've had a problem with my hands going outside. That's been a big focus for me, and just going out and playing hard in practice every day.

Are you excited about getting to play a night game in Camp Randall in September and opening the Big Ten season with a night game in Lincoln against Nebraska?

Frederick: It's going to be great for the fans, who always get pumped up for a night game. It's great for our program in terms of national exposure. We've been fortunate the last couple years to have a lot of national games. It's only going to help our program as far recruiting and more exposure.

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