Switching Calls

While injuries and struggles mounted in 2008, junior guard Jake Bscherer knew he was one more injury away from throwing away his redshirting, making his tough decision backfire. A position change and 20 months away from the field, Bscherer is ready to show what he can to do.

MADISON – Most siblings would be jealous that his parents and sister would be heading to Mexico for a spring break, leaving him alone to guard the house.

Jake Bscherer didn't mind, not when he had 10 days to learn an entirely new position.

Told, not asked, by offensive line coach Bob Bostad about moving from the tackle to the guard position, Bscherer found an old playbook highlighting the guard position, locked himself in his house and studied it in peace and quiet.

"I just relaxed and tried to get on top of things," Bscherer said. "I watched film there and tried to prepare as much as possible for when football started. It was actually pretty great."

After struggling at times to make the transition during the spring, Bscherer has been a breath of fresh air for an offensive line in shambles. Starting center John Moffitt has missed the entire camp thus far with a strained left pectoral muscle, starting right guard Bill Nagy is still out after wrist surgery and a ligament strain and left tackle Gabe Carimi is out of commission for 10 days with a knee sprain.

"It is frustrating, but you can't do anything about it," Bscherer said. "We just have to try and help the young guys get up to par. They are doing great job for freshmen. With only two weeks, we need to get real cohesive as a unit. We have a confidence that we are improving."

While the first-team offensive line has years, they don't have game experience. Even more daunting is Bscherer hasn't seen the field in nearly 20 months. Because of the depth UW had with three senior linemen entering the 2008 season, Bscherer felt it was a better decision for him to redshirt and take the year to refine his skills.

With the struggles and injuries mounting, it became apparent to Bscherer, and told to him by the coaching staff, that should UW suffer another injury on the offensive line, Bscherer would need to play, thus wasting half the year sitting on the bench.

"At times it was frustrating," Bscherer said of last year. "Now, I have no doubts that it was the right decision. Ideally, I should have redshirted my freshman year so I could have played last year, but I am happy with the decision I made."

Thinking he would compete at right tackle with Josh Oglesby, Bscherer's notion of that ended with Bostad telling him that since Oglesby can't play guard, Bscherer would have to make the adjustment, something that brings a new challenge every practice.

"The run blocking becomes more difficult at guard," Bscherer said. "It's easy to pull around the line and hit somebody. It's easy to get your hands in the right place. It's the combination of everything and having to be more physical with defensive tackles that gets you. It's a lot closer quarters that you have to get use to."

While UW is trying to build depth, the injuries have negated the progress. When Bscherer missed practice with a stomach virus, the Badgers practiced with one sophomore, three redshirt freshmen and one true freshman on their offensive line earlier in the week.

While the positions of the starters look to be determined, Bostad is using the injuries to give the young people reps, and put the upperclassmen, like Bscherer, on notice.

"Bostad says that every position is up for grabs, so you can't take the approach of feeling safe," he said. "Maybe if you are like Joe Thomas you can relax. He didn't have too many worried my freshman year. I definitely feel like I have to keep improving and staying on top of the position. I don't care if it is guard or tackle, I just want to play."

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