Weâ€™ve come to the end of our spring previews already, but weâ€™ve saved perhaps the most up in the air position for last too.
If there was one area that the Wisconsin Badgers couldâ€™ve improved on in 2014 it was the production of the defensive line. Part of it had to do with injuries to both Konrad Zagzebski and Warren Herring, the other part had to do with a lot of youth at the position.
It wonâ€™t get much easier in 2015, as both Herring and Zagzebski are gone and that leaves a lot of inexperience and youth left behind.
Along with that combination is a lot of potential too, so what does spring look like for the Badgersâ€™ defensive line?
Returning Starter(s):Â Chikwe Obasih
Departing Players: Warren Herring, Konrad Zagzebski
Coming in to Program:Â Olive SagapoluÂ (DT);Â Kraig HoweÂ (DT/DE);Â David PfaffÂ (DE)
Biggest Storyline:Â Is youth ready to produce?
Wisconsinâ€™s defensive line may be the youngest overall position group on this team heading in to the spring and it also means itâ€™s the most mysterious group as well. However, that doesnâ€™t mean it canâ€™t be a great group coming out of spring and heading in to the fall.
Over the past few seasons the Badgers have added some really intriguing talent, but most of them have not started or seen the field much.
Instead of leaning on the wealth of experience and knowledge of leaders like Warren Herring, this group will need to rely on the raw skill and coaching technique if itâ€™s going to be a strength of the Badgers this fall.
With only Chikwe Obasih returning as a regular starter there are plenty of questions to be answered. Chief among them is who will line up right next to him, as redshirt junior Arthur Goldberg and talented redshirt freshman Jeremy Patterson will battle it out all spring long. This battle will likely decide exactly how good or bad this line can be in 2015.
Obasih will likely have fellow Brookfield, Wis. native Alec James opposite of him at defensive end this spring, but look for James Adeyanju to make a big push for playing time and same for Garrett Dooley too.
While starting spots are likely to be locked down completely through spring ball, there is more potential along this line than in the past few years. Along with Dooley, there are names like Billy Hirschfeld and Conor Sheehy to really watch this spring.
Can the experience gained by minimal playing time from Goldberg and Sheehy be the difference makers? With a new head coach, a new position coach and the same defensive coordinator things should be very interesting along the defensive line this spring and beyond.
Who Starts Against Alabama: Chikwe Obasih (DE); Jeremy Patterson (DT); Conor Sheehy (DE)
Itâ€™s really hard to ignore the physical prowess of Patterson, who appeared to need a year to season his mental game alongside of reshaping his body. If heâ€™s dedicated the time to doing the necessary work, look for him to easily win the starting job over Goldberg.
Sheehy had a surprisingly versatile freshman season, playing both inside and out at the end. That experience and his overall ability should give him a leg up. Besides, the Badgers need to extra power on the edge opposite of Obasih. Look for this group to have a lot of potential and get better as the year goes along.