After a small break for basketball and the Danny O'Brien coverage we're back to previewing the Badgers by position group for Spring Football. Today we take a look at what is one of the two deepest positions on the Badger roster and that's the defensive line.
2011 started off great for this relatively young bunch, but an injury to David Gilbert knocked them down a bit. Thankfully Brendan Kelly came on and played excellent. In the middle there wasn't a huge standout besides Patrick Butrym mainly due to the youth overall, but there was a huge amount of depth and because of that the coaches rotated a lot in the middle and it paid off as the Badgers defense was one of the better ones in the Big Ten.
The only thing that they struggled with a bit was against the run, where they ranked 6th in the Big Ten. Not bad, but also not great and in 2012 it should be expected that this young and improving group will only get better against the run while also getting even better with the pass rush as David Gilbert will be back to full swing come fall practice.
2012 sees the Badgers lose defensive rocks in Louis Nzegwu at DE and Patrick Butrym at DT, both were key in the past two runs to the Rose Bowl, so the now veteran group of younger players need to step it up in 2012 and that doesn't appear to be much of an issue with how many players rotated in and out last year.
With injuries to Ethan Hemer at Defensive Tackle and David Gilbert still limited at Defensive End there's a ton of playing time to be had for the defensive line that has gone from an unknown to one of the biggest strengths of this team.
Players likely to start this Spring:
Pat Muldoon - RS Jr. - 6'3" 258lbs. - Defensive End
- As a sophomore he saw action in all 14 games and ended the year with 14 tackles, 0.5tfl's, and 3 passes defensed. Muldoon never recorded more than 2 tackles in a single game, but he did that feat 6 times in the 2011 season. He had a nice game in the Rose Bowl where he recorded 2 tackles and had a pass defensed against Oregon. He'll see plenty of time with the ones in the Spring thanks to Gilbert not being around and will need to show he can be consistent on the edge as he had an issue from time to time with committing inside a bit too much last year. Look for him to be one of the first ends off the bench this season and is one of my players to really watch for to have a breakout season in 2012.
Beau Allen - Jr. - 6'3" 323lbs. - Defensive Tackle
- Allen made two starts and appeared in 12 games overall in his Sophomore year. He recorded 22 tackles, 4.5tfl's and had a pass defensed. He also was 2nd on the team with 4 sacks in 2011. Because there were so many guys on the inside last year it was hard to record huge numbers overall, but he clearly was the rock on the inside and should be counted on as that again in his Junior year. It will be key to watch his growth this Spring as they need him to be a bit more stout in the middle against the run.
Jordan Kohout - RS Jr. - 6'3" 292lbs. - Defensive Tackle
- Kohout is a smart man in the mix for extensive playing time and could battle Allen for the starting spot opposite of Hemer thanks to injury. He's smart enough that he was named to the 2011 Academic All-Big Ten team. On the field he was very active in 2011 as well, recording 22 tackles, 2.5tfl's and 1 fumble recovery. He really came up big in the Big Ten Championship game with 3 tackles and 1 tackle for a loss in the win. He may actually be best suited coming in to spell Hemer, but there's a lot of talent there and should he have a great spring it wouldn't surprise me to see him opening up the Fall camp depth chart with the ones.
Brendan Kelly - RS Sr. - 6'6" 255lbs. - Defensive End
- Kelly was massive last year in taking over for the injured David Gilbert. He started 8 games and ended the season with 33 tackles, 5tfl's, 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 2 passes defensed. Kelly really showed a lot of athleticism that was needed with the loss of Gilbert. Additionally he did a great job of funneling runners and plays to the tandem of Taylor and Borland behind him at linebacker and look for him to really become the leader of this group as he's one of just 2 seniors on the defensive line (Gilbert is the other). The biggest question for him in the spring will be seeing if he can handle the pressure of going into a full season as a starter and I don't think it's tha big of a question to begin with. Most don't even remember that he wasn't a starter to begin the season, that's just how steady his performance was last year.
Others to watch in Spring Camp:
Konrad Zabreski - RS So. - 6'3" 258lbs. - Defensive End
- He played 5 games in his Redshirt Freshman season and managed to record just 2 tackles, both against Indiana. However he could also see some time on special teams this season and with Nzegwu gone he'll be in the mix for more playing time. So watching his progress this Spring is key to seeing just how much and where he sees the field in 2012.
Warren Herring - RS So. - 6'3" 273lbs. - Defensive End
- He was the 2010 Defensive scout team player of the year and by the end of last season had made it to the rotation behind Brendan Kelly and Pat Muldoon. He played in 8 games last year and had 9 tackles with 1 tackle for a loss. He showed he could play in his limited action last year. He's also one of the bigger defensive ends and that could help him see some time, especially against the run to spell the likes of Gilbert who is a smaller end and more of a pass rushing specialist. Look for him to have continued improvement this spring and could become someone we're talking about after April 28th as impressing us.
Tyler Dippel - RS. Jr. - 6'4" 255lbs. - Defensive End
- He was nearly a starter last year, playing in all 14 games and recording 27 tackles, 3tfl's, and 1 sack. Dippel had a career best 4 tackles against Nebraska and then had a sack and a tackle for a loss at Illinois. No doubt about it he'll be counted on to be a big contributor and between Muldoon and him we should have an interesting battle for the first player off the bench at the defensive end position this Spring.
James Adeyanju - RS Fr. - 6'2" 250lbs. - Defensive End
- Adayanju spent last year on the scout team and has been someone that the coaching staff has been high on. He may not see a lot of time during the season, but a good spring could help him vault into the playing time discussion. He's someone I'm very intrigued by because of his size and speed comibination and could be a pass rushing demon for the Badgers in the future. So keep an eye out for his progress this Spring for down the road.
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