You can have all of the weapons in the world but if there isn’t a good offensive line to give the QB time to find these talented receivers or open up holes for these dynamic running backs, the offense is going to struggle to succeed.
Last season, UW QB’s were sacked 7.19% of their passing attempts, which ranked 79th (out of 131) in the nation. Even though they had the same two primary running backs, their rushing yards per game fell from 211 YPG in 2021 to 176.3 last season.
In an attempt to regain some of the form from previous years, Fickell added two former Cincinnati players to Wisconsin’s roster. Jake Renfro is an interior lineman who gives Fickell the flexibility of being able to play either guard or center. Joe Huber is an offensive tackle. Both of the former Bearcat players were 3-star recruits out of high school.
One of the highlights of the 2023 recruiting class is 4-star recruit James Durand, from Basha HS in Chandler, Arizona. Listed as an interior lineman, Durand was considered the 350th-highest recruit in the country and the 20th-best OL recruit. Coming to Madison as a 6’4″, 280-pound true freshman, he has the potential to really blossom under the tutelage of new strength and conditioning coach, Brady Collins.
Leaving the Badger fold is offensive tackle, Logan Brown, who enrolls at the University of Kansas.
In the past two and a half seasons under Paul Chryst, UW’s vaunted rushing attack had started to wane, without the passing game picking up the slack. The last time that they averaged more than five yards per carry was in 2019.
Yet the quality running backs remained the same so most of the responsibility is that of the offensive line. It stands to reason that with the high level of incoming talent, along with an offensive scheme that spreads the areas of attack, Wisconsin should be able to regain their former glory of a rushing powerhouse.