Good Instead of Lucky

By his own admission, junior right tackle Rob Havenstein got away far too often utilizing poor technique last season. After a focused offseason, Havenstein wants to be good instead of lucky.

MADISON - In the days following the conclusion of the 2012 season, Rob Havenstein felt that, despite the shortcoming of his group, the offense and the team, he individually played pretty well.

But once he started evaluating himself on film, the junior right tackle changed his tune.

"There were some glaring technique issues I had," said Havenstein. "Whether it be the run game or the pass game, I didn't use my hands as well as I should of."

Glaring issues were the norm last season on Wisconsin's offensive line; issues that began popping up in the spring of 2012 and eventually came to a boiling point when Mike Markuson was fired after a disastrous offensive performance in a 10-7 at Oregon State in week two.

While Wisconsin recovered to rush for 3,309 yards last season (an average of 247.5 rushing yards per game), those numbers were skewed considering the Badgers rushed for 47 percent of those yards (1570) in three games: 467 at Purdue, 567 at Indiana, 539 vs. Nebraska.

It got to the point in some games where Havenstein was simply trying to overpower players with his 6-8 frame, using strength instead of technique.

"If you want to call it luck, that's what it was," said Havenstein. "Sometimes I was in the right spot. Sometimes I was in the wrong spot and the play didn't go my way. From a technical aspect, whether I got the job done or not, it could have been done better."

The reshaping process started in the spring. Havenstein continued on his diet and has dropped almost 55 pounds since first arriving on campus (from 380 to his current weight of 327). He's worked on squaring his feet, be consistent with his outside and inside blocking moves and creating space between him and the person he's blocking.

Wisconsin's offensive line has been a constant jumble over the last two weeks since projected starting center went down with an injury, as offensive line coach T.J. Woods has worked on creating backup scenarios and versatility should an injury pop up during the season.

While his teammates were rotating between multiple position, it's been beneficial for Havenstein to stay put at right tackle with the first-team offense, allowing him to continue to work at the position where he started all 14 games a season ago.

"I definitely feel comfortable," said Havenstein. "I've been in the position awhile. Better technique is one thing we stress here with Coach Woods. We're working on our footwork and our hand strikes every single day."

And because of that, Havenstein is anxious to get this group of linemen out on to the field to start playing games.

"There's a lot of things we have to clean up," said Havenstein, "but it's a group that I feel confident in and a group that can do good things."

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