Health and Experience Should Dominate Line

With Wisconsin football opening up its 2008 fall camp in preparation for the season opener August 30th against Akron, Badger Nation opens up the mailbag an answers the pressing questions involving the Badgers. Today, we answer your offensive and defensive line questions.

How is the offense going to change with John Moffitt under center instead of Marcus Coleman?

The offensive line entering this year was already going to be solid losing just one senior but in losing Coleman, the Badgers are gaining the valuable services of Moffitt, who filled in last season at left guard for six games after Andy Kemp broke his hand. With Kemp returning to his normal position, Moffitt was switched to center and needless to say, the transition, despite a few botched snaps early, went smoothly.

The big benefit Wisconsin's offense is going to have this season with Moffitt under center is that the Badgers are going to be able to run plays out of the shotgun formation. Unlike Coleman, Moffitt has the ability to long snap the football, which is going to allow run plays to develop quicker and give Wisconsin's new quarterback plenty of time to develop a connection with their new wide receivers.

How much of Josh Oglesby are we going to see this season?

If all goes according to plan, hopefully not much. Don't get me wrong, Oglesby, at 6-7, 328 pounds, is a massive human being and is going to be a whale of a right tackle over the next three years. In the grand scheme of things, however, Oglesby has two things working against him.

One is obviously his inexperience. Oglesby, while extremely talented in run blocking situations, is very raw when it comes to pass blocking, as his high school football team rarely passed the football. Throughout spring workouts, it was obvious that pass blocking was still a new technique for him.

Secondly, Eric Vanden Heuvel is back after an ankle injury knocked him out from week 10 on and also at 6-7, the senior has a ton of experience, starting 23 games for his career. Unless something happens with either Vanden Heuvel or Gabe Carimi at the left tackle position, we aren't going to see much of Oglesby expect in mop up time or maybe in a short yardage situation.

With all the injuries to the defensive line, is there any concern by the coaching staff that one or more of the players won't be the same as they were before the injury?

Whenever there is an injury, there is always a concern that the injured player is never able to regain the ability they once had before. In Bielema's case, where Wisconsin had roughly 27 different players miss at least one practice during spring, that could have caused many sleepless nights, especially when he lost senior defensive end Matt Shaughnessy one practice before the spring game.

With day one of practice came to a close, Bielema's post-practice comments suggest that the spring injuries are far behind Wisconsin. "I went around and watched seven guys during individuals the first 10 minutes of practice just to see how they (the injured players) were moving," Bielema said. "Matt Shaughnessy was running off the ball and had some numbers two weeks ago in the weight room that were above when he got injured. I think mentally he was into it. Aaron Henry and Allen Langford did a lot of good things while they were out there. … Matt is fully cleared to practice. He really has progressed nicely and we're going to let their bodies tell us what we need to do."

Adding to those comments are Jason Chapman, who has continued to progress after suffering an ACL injury late last season. Everybody seems to be fully healed, but he won't know for sure until a couple of weeks down the line.

Who was the surprise defensive lineman of Wisconsin's spring camp?

Lauded for his ability to find his way into the backfield, redshirt freshman Patrick Butrym impressed coaches and onlookers by continuing that same characteristic. Still somewhat undersized for his position, Butrym overcomes the size disadvantage by having a high motor and displaying solid technique, allowing himself to stick his nose into the backfield and disrupt plays throughout spring ball.

A solid blue-collared worker, Butrym added 25 pounds during his redshirt season to help bulk up to handle the rugged Big Ten. Butrym still has room to get stronger and more agile but with all the injuries on the line, Butrym received plenty of time going against the offense's No.1 unit and he did not disappoint.


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