Badger Nation Roundtable: OL

The Badger Nation Roundtable convenes to answer the following question: Will the loss of Al Johnson, Ben Johnson and Jason Jowers be too difficult to overcome for the offensive line, or will the unit fill the gaps and be good enough to compete for a championship this fall?

Arvind Gopalratnam: With the loss of the Johnson cousins and Jason Jowers from the offensive line, Alvarez and his staff have the huge task of filling a tremendous void on their offense. Strong, agile big men have been a staple of the offensive line during the Alvarez era. But entering this year, there are no big names returning. For me, this is where Alvarez will prove his desire, creativity and will to win this season, as he will undoubtedly get the right guys in the right positions, ready to play. En route to an 11th-straight season with a 1000-yard running back, the coach and his staff have proven they can build the talent necessary to block for these backs and fill the gaps left by stars.

Jonathan Linder: No worries inside, where Donovan Raiola will fill in for Al Johnson. The interior line should be very good. Again tackle will be a concern, but I do not think the talent level at tackle has diminished appreciably. The line may take its lumps in pass blocking again, but I think those kinks will be worked out by the time Big Ten play begins. Yes, they will be good enough to compete for a title.

Ronny Whitworth: The fact that the staff plans to take a look at Joe Thomas at left tackle during fall camp should alert fans that the coaches might not feel 100 percent safe at that position. While Morgan Davis had a solid spring, the left tackle spot is the most crucial position up front. Thomas would be playing on the defensive line if the coaches felt comfortable with where they are heading into fall camp. At the same time, Donovan Raiola and Mike Lorenz are two outstanding replacements for Al Johnson and Jason Jowers. Overall, this unit is very solid, and whether it's Thomas, Davis or Jake Wood, I have no doubt Offensive Line Coach Jim Hueber will have somebody ready to rumble at LT before the West Virginia game.

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