Fall camp wrap, offensive line

Talented, experienced front five should enjoy successful year

Depth chart

News and notes: As expected, Joe Thomas opened fall camp as the starting left tackle and held that position throughout the two-and-a-half week camp…Morgan Davis and Mike Lorenz split reps at right tackle throughout camp…the Badgers moved a number of linemen to various positions to bolster depth. Lorenz served as the jumbo tight end in the various short-yardage packages. Davis is the effective backup right guard and left tackle. Starting center Donovan Raiola spent time at each guard spot. Finally, starting right guard Jonathan Clinkscale played every position but center.

Fall MVP: Raiola. In a camp that was full of competitive spirit and some feisty play, (which at times boiled over to brief skirmishes) Raiola was the offense's counterbalance for Wisconsin's myriad free spirits on defense. He played well at center and did his share of talking, helping to hold up the offense's pride against sharply exuberant players across from him, such as Dontez Sanders, Anttaj Hawthorne and Reggie Cribbs.

Player on the rise: Thomas. He has not played a single down at left tackle yet and he is already being talked about as one of the Badgers' best linemen of all time. This, after becoming the first UW lineman to ever play as a true freshmen and then starting at defensive end in the Music City Bowl. An incredible athlete, Thomas has an exceptionally rare mix of strength, quickness and football skill. It would not be surprising if he develops fast enough to become a first-team all-conference selection this year.

Questions answered: Left tackle was supposed to be more of a mystery, but Thomas had the job all along.

The Badgers will look to their veterans to back each other up rather than rely on many younger players. Center Jason Palermo and guard Matt Lawrence remain high on the depth chart. Among the Badgers' cadre of redshirt freshmen linemen, tackle Danny Kaye and guard Marcus Coleman are at the head of the class.

Questions remain: Who takes the snaps at right tackle? The belief here is still that Morgan Davis will be the starter this year, though Lorenz will play here and there and in the jumbo package.

How will the unit handle speed? Thomas should lock down at left tackle, but the unit as a whole has struggled against speed rushers and nimble blitzing linebackers or safeties. With a young quarterback to protect, they will see plenty of blitzes this year.

Final note: This offensive line has all the makings of a strong unit. The group will not be as good as the one boasted by the last two Rose Bowl teams, but they will be productive and consistent. This is a veteran group that should punish opposing defensive lines.

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