A Thin Silver Lining

While he knows the offensive line is suffering because of the vast amount of injuries, junior center John Moffitt knows that it could be much worse. Missing camp due to a pectoral injury, Moffitt is working hard to be ready for the season, and helping his replacement build UW's depth.

MADISON - The hardest thing John Moffitt has to go through is watching an offensive line practice without him. Sidelined since the beginning of camp, Moffitt slowly progresses and watches as a young Badger offensive line gets even younger, as injuries have decimated the depth of UW's front five.

Luckily for Moffitt, the junior center is missing only practices, and not a slew of games.

Working on the bench press the week before camp started, Moffitt believed he transitioned too fast during his lifting motion, bringing the bar down too quick and pushing up just as fast. As soon as he started pushing back up, Moffitt felt a pull in his left pectoral muscle.

"It was a real weird feeling, which made me knew something was significantly wrong," Moffitt said. "I needed Gabe Carimi to lift the bar off, because I had no strength."

First thinking the injury was something that could sideline Moffitt for several weeks, including the beginning of the non-conference season, Moffitt was put at ease when his MRI showed no significant damage, allowing him to rehabilitate through the injury and be good as new in three to four weeks.

"That was a nice thing to find out," Moffitt said. "You think down the line and I don't want to miss any games. I don't want to miss the first one (and) I don't want to miss the last one."

Since the injury, Moffitt, who started all 13 games for the Badgers at center a season ago, has steadily worked his way back, doing daily workouts with strength and conditioning coach Ben Herbert on his lower body and rehabilitation on his upper body.

Working out in full pads since last Tuesday, Moffitt has been working on snapping the football and then firing off into a blocking sled or having Herbert wrestle him to get him game tired and increase his stamina.

"I think he felt bad about what happened on the bench, but that's the risk you take by working out," Moffitt said. "Once he knew that I was OK with it, he started pushing me to get my legs as strong as possible. I feel that if you have strong legs going into the season, you can work through things that aren't up to par.

"Just from working with him, I feel that my sets have been lower, the muscles in my legs are stronger and I have a lot of endurance in those small muscles."

Not only has Moffitt seen positives coming out of injury, the Badgers have reaped the benefits of having true freshman center Travis Frederick get reps with the first-team offense. Since joining the team in January, Frederick has given UW options on the line, as the 6-foot-4, 336-pound lineman can play guard or center in reserve.

"He's got such a cool head," Moffitt said of Frederick. "He's real intelligent, he's real mature and he doesn't get frazzled. If we compared each other to when I was a true freshman, he knows about five times more. A year or two down the road, he'll be a real student of the game."

Frederick isn't the only Badger that has been pressed into duty, as right guard Bill Nagy has battled an ankle injury that has forced Kevin Zeitler into duty and Ricky Wagner has been called in to replace Carimi, who went down last week with a knee sprain.

With UW already entering this season with three new starters on the offensive line, Moffitt is hoping the continuity the group formed in the spring and summer will carry through.

"We had our spring time together, but we haven't been together on the same level since," Moffitt said. "We've all been on a different page. We don't have a choice. We have to take as many reps as you can get, jump into it and play the season.

"I like all these guys. There's never a problem with chemistry, but there are things that we need to work on when we all get together."

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