Fall Football Preview: Offensive Line

With Wisconsin's 2009 football season set to begin with the team's first official practice on Monday, Badger Nation breaks down the Badgers position by position. Next up are the offensive linemen, a group that will have three new starters for the season opener, but a unit that has been building chemistry since the spring.

MADISON - With offensive line coach Bob Bostad needing to plug three big holes in the line, vacated by a trio that started 91 games in four seasons, Wisconsin needs big, durable, dominant players to help the running back pound the football and give the quarterback some room to maneuver.

"The biggest challenge right now is making sure we come out with the correct starting five," Bostad said at the start of spring. "That's it. That's the bottom line. We have to have a goal and that's our goal."

The projected starting five have that ability, as 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 were paired together for the majority of the spring. Although four of the five expected starters made starts in 2008, there is still work to be done.

Juniors John Moffitt and Gabe Carimi are the elders of this defensive line, as the duo return to man the center and left tackle positions, respectively. Carimi has done nicely following in the footsteps of NFL Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas and Moffitt adapted well to the center position after the graduation of Marcus Coleman.

The big switch will be with Bscherer, who has played tackle most of his career, and Oglesby, who was a highly-recruited left tackle coming out of St. Francis (Wis.) High School. After filling in for Carimi last year at left tackle, Oglesby held his own, but needs to play up to his capabilities to answer some question marks on the line. Because of Oglesby's size and abilities, Bscherer's move to guard only made sense.

"There's no way Josh (Oglesby) can play guard," Bostad said. "I went back to the experience factor. Jake played as a true freshman, played a little bit as a true sophomore and we redshirted him. He's been in the program for three years and knows what we are talking about. This isn't a brand new thing for him. He's got snaps under his belt. He's gone through the preparation period and understands things a little bit more than the other guys. He was the guy, to me, that made sense. He was good for that. Like any other kid, you just want to get on the field and play."

Although it's expected that Oglesby is the guy at right tackle, don't be surprised is redshirt freshman Peter Konz sees some snaps. At points during the spring camp, Konz was out-performing Oglesby and was promoted to the first string, a move that was a combination of Oglesby struggling and Konz continuing to make strides. Through the move didn't last long, Konz is still lurking in the shadows.

Another one of those players that is making a serious push is true freshman Travis Frederick. At 6-foot-3 and 333 pounds, Frederick graduated a semester early from Big Foot High School to participate in spring practices and impressed coaches by his ability to compete at both center and left guard.

Frederick closed spring ball No. 2 on the depth chart at left guard behind Bscherer, who struggled at points making the transition from tackle. Frederick, who plans to major in computer engineering and carries a GPA of over 4.0, has used those smarts to pick up the nuisances of the offensive line.

Reports are that Frederick has been working with the first-string offensive line, as Moffitt suffered an injury that could keep him out the first week of the season, meaning Frederick's hard work will net him a starting spot in the season opener.

"I wouldn't be surprised at all if he is a starter for us in the fall, or putting a serious push on," Bielema said. "He got so many reps during spring ball and has now been in our summer conditioning program after going through winter. He has just taken off."

With the tradition of UW's offense, the Badgers need powerful running backs behind stout offensive linemen, using the combination to win games by grinding out tough yards. If UW wants to continue that tradition, the offensive line will need to grow up quickly, as the schedule is only going to get tougher.

Fall Depth Chart:

Left Tackle

Gabe Carimi (6-8, 313)

Ricky Wagner (6-7, 308)

Left Guard Jake Bscherer (6-7, 310)

Travis Frederick (6-3, 333)

Center

John Moffitt (6-4, 313)

Jake Current (6-4, 290)

or Frederick

Right Guard

Bill Nagy (6-4, 307)

Kevin Zeitler (6-4, 301)

Right Tackle

Josh Oglesby (6-7, 329)

Peter Konz (6-6, 298)


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