Spring Grades - Linemen

With the spring game now in their review mirror, the Wisconsin Badgers turn their focus to their 2009 season opener against Northern Illinois, which is just over 135 short days away. After letting the dust settle, Badger Nation publisher Benjamin Worgull breaks down the positions post spring.

MADISON - Offensive line coach Bob Bostad had a simple goal entering the spring: have his starting five linemen set by the end of spring camp.

The cardinal group on Saturday looked like it, as the five some of junior left tackle Gabe Carimi, junior left guard Jake Bscherer, junior center John Moffitt, junior right guard Bill Nagy and sophomore right tackle Josh Oglesby have been paired together for the majority of the spring.

This group did well, as the cardinal offense rushed for 270 yards, passed for 293 yards and allowed only one sack to Tolzien, which was a definite coverage sack.

The second and third-team offensive lines, however, didn't impress. If the defensive line was going all out on every play to knockout the quarterback, the sack number would have been astronomical and many of the quarterbacks' completions could not have even been attempted.

It got so bad that in the final two minutes, the third-team offensive line, albeit going against the first-team defense, gave up a sack on three-straight plays, as Tolzien had virtually no time to unload a pass (although he could easily shoulder the blame on one sack).

While the depth of this unit has a lot of solid, talented players, they didn't give much of a convincing performance of that Saturday.

Projected Depth Chart

Left Tackle

1) Gabe Carimi, Junior

2) Ricky Wagner, Freshman

3) Robert Burge, Freshman

Left Guard

1) Jake Bscherer, Junior

2) Kevin Zeitler, Freshman

3) Travis Frederick, Freshman

Center

1) John Moffitt, Junior

2) Travis Frederick, Freshman

3) Jake Current, Sophomore

Right Guard

1) Bill Nagy, Junior

2) Jake Current, Sophomore

3) Jordan Bergmann, Freshman

Right Tackle

1) Josh Oglesby, Sophomore

2) Peter Konz, Freshman

3) Joe Schafer, Freshman

Defensive Line

Having to replace 75 percent of one position is never a positive thing, especially when that position wasn't the model of consistency the previous year. Wisconsin's defensive line struggled to register sacks in 08, ranking 10th in the Big Ten and 72nd in the nation.

Believe it or not, this unit has a lot of youth, a lot of talent and a lot of expectations.

"We have a lot of young guys that people might not necessarily know about," sophomore J.J. Watt said. "You saw today that we have some young talent on the defensive line and hopefully people are a little bit surprised by that and hopefully start to figure out that we have a good defensive line here."

The one returning play, O'Brien Schofield, is going to be a key to the success of Wisconsin and their ability to contain people on the edges. Schofield has made huge strides this spring and as Bielema put it, "He's one of our better players and leaders."

Therefore it was a surprise to see Schofield playing with the number two defensive line in the spring game. According to Bielema, Schofield arrived two minutes late to a team meeting and was therefore demoted off the first string. Instead of moping or being angry, Schofield, with his teammates watching how he would act, responded by registering a quarterback hurry and two sacks.

Watt, a sophomore transfer who Bielema gave a full scholarship to the day before the spring game, responded with three tackles, two quarterback hurries and one sack. Watt is going to be an interesting player to watch for Wisconsin, as the coaching staff can utilize his size and strength at the defensive tackle position or take advantage of his speed and agility at the end position depending on the offense.

Freshman Brendan Kelly and senior Dan Moore, both in their second year with the Wisconsin program, had an excellent spring and each registered an eight-yard sack, further solidifying themselves as fixtures on the defensive line.

The Badgers also appeared to have increased their depth at the position, as senior Jeff Stehle (one QB hurry, one pass breakup) and sophomore Patrick Butrym (one seven-yard sack) should be able to fit into a successful rotation.

"They are a bunch of no names," Bielema said. "OB, Brendan Kelly and J.J. Watt are probably are top three defensive ends. I like the way that they have handled themselves off the football field. Inside, Dan Moore, Patrick Butrym and Jeff Stehle, those three guys are playing as good as they have played since they've been here. I don't know where that is, but hopefully those six guys give us solid (depth). Hopefully, we can have a couple more guys to give us a seven, eight-man rotation."

Projected Depth Chart

Left End

1) O'Brien Schofield, Senior

2) Anthony Mains, Freshman

3) David Gilbert, Freshman

Left Tackle

1) Dan Moore, Senior

2) Patrick Butrym, Sophomore

3) Eriks Briedis, Freshman

Right Tackle

1) Jeff Stehle, Senior

2) J.J. Watt, Sophomore

3) Dan Cascone, Senior

Right End

1) Brendan Kelly, Freshman

2) J.J. Watt, Sophomore

3) Louis Nzegwu, Sophomore


Badger Nation Top Stories