With only two weeks before games kick off in the Big Ten depth charts are beginning to shift and settle into place. Some battles, though, may rage right up until game day. This week we’re taking a look at the most important competition yet to be settled on each campus across the conference.
Next up is Wisconsin.
Top position battle: Offensive line
Well, this is something new.
With the season rapidly approaching, the Badgers are unsettled on the offensive line. And for a program whose entire identity is usually built on that group, the situation is, well, unsettling.
A lack of depth was further compromised by a slew of injuries -- most hopefully minor -- during training camp. That has kept the coaching staff from being able to decide who should start, since players have been in and out of the lineup.
"I'm still trying to find those five best," offensive line coach Joe Rudolph told reporters Thursday. "And with some of the injuries it kind of gets you behind on identifying."
Right tackle remains a spot that's up in the air. Two candidates for the job -- Hayden Biegel and Beau Benzschawel -- have been banged up, leaving redshirt freshman Walker Williams an opportunity to seize the job. Freshman Jon Dietzen was expected to compete for a starting job at guard but has been injured himself.
What's certain is that Tyler Marz will play left tackle and Dan Voltz has center locked down. Redshirt freshman Michael Deiter is trying to secure a guard spot. Ray Ball will at least be in the rotation.
Will this be a vintage Wisconsin offensive line? That's a major question. The injuries may prevent the Badgers from fielding their optimal lineup right away, and there will be some inexperience involved with possibly two first-year starters in the first five.
The group had better be ready quickly, however, because it has to take on Alabama in 15 days.