Wisconsin Offensive Line Gets Back To Basics

Wisconsin Offensive Line Gets Back To Basics

Football

Wisconsin Offensive Line Gets Back To Basics

MADISON, Wis. – After preparing for over a month in fall camp and grinding through four games, members of the University of Wisconsin welcomed an off week to get away, get refreshed and get ready for the final eight games of the season.

But if you think Beau Benzschawel and his offensive linemates were sitting on the patio with an umbrella drink, think again.

In the week after Wisconsin’s 28-17 win at Iowa, Benzschawel and UW’s much-hyped offensive line sat down individually and as a group to watch film and cutups from each of the first five games. The overall mood from those sessions was a mixture of satisfaction and frustration but almost always served as motivational fuel.

“Looking back on those games as far as lessons learned, it really helps you grow,” Benzschawel said. “I think it just made guys hungrier. What you put on tape isn’t the best, but it doesn’t matter what happened in the past. It’s about moving forward and how you can get better from that.”

“As an offensive line, we kind of realize that the success of the offense relies on us,” he added. “We take it personally as far as working throughout the week.”

The steps forward were evident last Saturday in the 41-24 win over Nebraska. On 48 running plays, Wisconsin’s offensive line paved the way for 377 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Furthermore, UW gave up only one sack on 25 pass attempts and didn’t have a tailback lose any yards.

In a word: it was dominant. Better yet, it was a familiar sight.

“I thought it was a good plan that we had, and most importantly, guys executed it,” head coach Paul Chryst. “I think there was times where you felt like, okay, we can just keep going on them and yet we were six of 12 maybe on third down. That also has to deal with maintaining possession of the ball.”

A key stat that determines offensive line dominance is time of possession, the ability for an offense to control the ball, the clock and the line of scrimmage. Wisconsin held the ball for 35 minutes, 33 seconds against Nebraska and have owned a time of possession of at least 34:00 in every game this season, a reason the Badgers are ranked fifth nationally in that category.

Even more important than time of possession, according to Benzschawel, is Wisconsin’s record. Expected by many, including themselves, to be unbeaten at this point in the season, the Badgers were outmuscled by BYU’s defensive line in a 24-21 home loss Sept.15 and have yet to really find that natural synergy that was on display throughout last year’s 13-1 season.

The reason for the slow start, according to Benzschawel, was a group that was too complacent.

“Just working each week to better your best is the big thing for us,” Benzschawel said. “As soon as we stop grinding, that’s when things will come up and you won’t play your best ball.”

In terms of tests, Wisconsin’s offensive line will need to bring its best effort this weekend. Michigan (5-1, 3-0 Big Ten) ranks first in the Big Ten in four of the five top statistical categories: scoring defense (15.8 ppg), total defense (230.5 ypg), pass defense (134.0 ypg) and pass efficiency defense (98.6). The only category “lagging” behind is rush defense at 96.5 yards per game, a number that put the Wolverines third in the Big Ten and sixth nationally. Michigan is also tops nationally in total and pass defense.

A daunting task, but Wisconsin has faced two equally physical fronts the last two games in Iowa and Nebraska that almost serve as a warm-up. This primetime will simply show if Wisconsin has learned its lesson about the dangers of not being the aggressors from the start.

“The bye week really came at a good time because we had guys banged up,” Benzschawel said. “Now it’s just getting to that main Big Ten stretch. As long as we keep guys healthy, we’ll be fine. (Michigan) always has a good front seven. We’ll have our work cut out for us. It’ll be a good challenge.”

More BadgersInsider
Home