Wisconsin Football: Offensive Linemen Who Need to Step Up


A big (can’t emphasize that word enough) staple for Wisconsin football for many years has been the play of the offensive line. They have been a main reason why the running game has been as successful as it has been in recent years. The start of the 2015 season however sees the Wisconsin Badgers needing to fill a few holes and some of the inexperienced players to step up.

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Let’s start with what we know is certain. Both Tyler Marz and Dan Voltz are the only returning starters from a year. Marz has started 27 straight games and Voltz, who is on the Rimington Award watch list, made all 14 starts a year ago. Marz will be solid at left tackle once again this season as he keeps improving from year to year. Voltz came into spring practice battling injuries suffered in the regular season finale, Big Ten championship game and the Outback Bowl. While easing him into the fold, Wisconsin should have Voltz at full strength once fall practices start up.


Wisconsin Badgers
Wisconsin Badgers /

Wisconsin Badgers

Ray Ball (left guard)- Although Ball did not make a start last year, he played in all 14 games and filled in nicely once the injury bug started to hit the o-line. With Voltz leaving the Big Ten title game and Outback Bowl, Dallas Lewallen shifted over to play center meaning Ball had to fill in at left guard.

Even though he battled injury in the spring, Ball should be able to be a full go in the fall. Without starting a single game, Ball is one of the most experienced offensive linemen. The redshirt senior has played in 31 games in his career and always being prepared was a key reason why he was able to step in last season and be moderately successful. If Ball can keep healthy and start every game this season, this line will have a very strong year.

Hayden Biegel (right tackle)- The younger brother of linebacker Vince Biegel has some big shoes to fill as he will be looked upon to fill in for decorated tackle Rob Havenstein. One thing Biegel has done while waiting for his opportunity has been taking everything he has learned from Havenstein and applied it to himself.

Although Biegel does not have the size or strength of Havenstein, he knows he will have to tweak some things that fit his style of play. Telling Jesse Temple of Fox Sports Wisconsin, “Not everything he did I can necessarily do. I have to learn my own ways too.” Biegel has had the opener with Alabama circled on his calendar as the date to make his first start. After his play in the spring, you can rest assured that Biegel will start his first game against the Crimson Tide.


Michael Deiter (right guard)- This is where lack of experience will start to show. Deiter, along with Biegel, are two players that have the biggest question marks next to their name. Deiter probably has the biggest question mark simply because the redshirt freshman has yet to see any action in an actual game. He had a decent spring though, starting at right guard and having the versatility to move to center when Voltz was out. That at the very least can give coordinator and offensive line coach Joe Rudolph some options on the line if Wisconsin indeed suffers injuries.

Walker Williams- The redshirt junior Williams is probably the biggest threat to challenge Biegel at the right tackle spot, although while in Madison he has not done much to garner playing time. Williams had a decent spring, filling in at right guard as well when Voltz was out and Deiter had to shift to center which also gives the Badgers another option in case something were to happen.


We know that the center and left tackle positions are solidly locked in, leaving the Badgers with three spots to fill with players that do not have that much experience. Here’s how I think the five starting offensive linemen shakes out come fall.

Left tackle- Tyler Marz
Left guard- Ray Ball
Center- Dan Voltz
Right guard- Michael Deiter
Right tackle- Hayden Biegel

I believe these are the best five linemen Wisconsin will be able to put out on the field when they take on Alabama to start the season. With that being said, with just two returning starters from a year ago, this relatively young group will need to gel quickly in order to be successful this year.

Next: Projecting the Top Offensive Playmakers

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