With Alabama Looming, Wisconsin’s Offensive Line Needs to Gel Quickly


Seven days. That’s all that is left between now and the start of the 2015 season for the Wisconsin Badgers. And with their showdown with the Alabama Crimson Tide fast approaching, Wisconsin’s offensive line needs to come together quickly in the coming week.

One aspect of the Badgers offense that has never really been in question in recent years has been the offensive line. This year will be different. With the exception of a couple of guys, the experience on the line is relatively young. Not to mention the right side of the line has been hit hard with injuries.

Wisconsin Badgers
Wisconsin Badgers /

Wisconsin Badgers

Redshirt senior Tyler Marz is a solid bookend at the left tackle position. He’s started 27 straight games at the position and has been apart of some of the greatest rushing performances in school history the last two years. Not only that he’s helped slow down opposing pass rushers. Throughout his career at Wisconsin, the Badgers have allowed just 1.07 sacks per game, the eighth-lowest average in FBS.

The other player the coaching staff will not have to worry about on the offensive line is center Dan Voltz. Landing on the Rimington Award watch list and a preseason second-team All-America selection, Voltz is a solid leader on the line. He was also an integral part in Melvin Gordon’s historical rushing season last year.

But other than Marz and Voltz, Wisconsin doesn’t have a highly experienced player to fill one of the other three spots on the offensive line.

Redshirt freshman Michael Deiter has done enough in spring and fall camps to earn a starting spot at one of the guard spots. Because of injuries, Deiter has the opportunity to play either one of the guard spots and has done well at center when Voltz was out in the spring to be a solid backup at that position as well.

Wisconsin Badgers center Dan Voltz (70) during the game against BYU at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The right tackle position battle has been riddled with injuries as well. Three weeks ago it seemed as if Hayden Biegel had the spot locked up, until he went down with a head injury and finally got back onto the practice field this week for the first time since August 14th. Next man up was redshirt freshman Beau Benzschawel, until he went down with a knee injury and his timetable to return is sometime after the beginning of the season. Redshirt senior Walker Williams, who has seemingly played almost every spot on the offensive line, was moved to right tackle to fill the spot. But he too went down with a head injury, leaving redshirt Jacob Maxwell to take the first team reps.
With Micah Kapoi anchored at the right guard spot, that leaves the Badgers with three redshirt freshman currently on the offensive line to go along with veterans Voltz and Marz.

There is definitely uncertainty up front, especially with Alabama rearing its ugly head next Saturday. Nevermind the insane amount of yards and points they gave up to Auburn and Ohio State to end their season last year. The Tide’s defense will be one of the best in the country this year. Which means this young Wisconsin offensive line will be extremely tested early.

Luckily for Wisconsin they have a pretty good offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Joe Rudolph. Joining head coach Paul Chryst in their journey back to Madison, Rudolph played on the o-line under Barry Alvarez and knows first hand the tradition those five guys up front have carried on over the years. Now Rudolph has the inevitable task of trying to get three young guys ready for the season, particularly Alabama in the opener.

One thing Rudolph and Chryst must do is make sure the five guys they put out on the field can gel quickly and be a solid group when they hit the field at AT&T Stadium September 5th. An anomaly at the University of Wisconsin, the offensive line this year leaves many with question marks.

Next: Why Tanner McEvoy Makes Sense at WR