Offensive Player of the Year: Beau Benzschawel
The offensive line was the subject of what was probably way too much attention this year, both before and during the season, both good and bad. Before the season, the line was regarded as the best in the country, and maybe the best in Wisconsin football history. During the season the line was the target of a lot of criticism, and also some solid play. Through the inconsistency, the unit still shined.
Jonathan Taylor wouldn’t be where he is without a great line blocking ahead of him and the line wouldn’t look so good if it didn’t have such a great talent running behind it. Benzschawel was one of the best coming into the year and he was one of the best throughout the year. He landed on the Pro Football Focus All-American list with his performance in both the run blocking and pass blocking game, and also earned first team AP All-American honors.
Defensive Player of the Year: T.J. Edwards and Ryan Connelly
Much like Taylor, there isn’t much to say about these two that hasn’t been said already. Edwards and Connelly led a defense that was battered and beaten all year and did so at extremely high levels. They both led the team in tackles by a wide margin and are some of the best linebackers to ever come through campus.
This award is easy to just give to Edwards and Connelly because they are seniors and have done a lot for the program, but they actually deserve it. It’s not fair to choose one or the other because this team might not even be where it is without both. They work together so well in tandem and picked up a lot of the slack from the rest of the young defense around them.
Replacing just one of these legends next year is going to be tough. Replacing both is one of the tougher tasks in all of college football.