MADISON, WI - NOVEMBER 29: Head Coach Gary Anderson of the Wisconsin Badgers talks to Dan Voltz #70 as he walks off the field during the second half against the Minnesota Golden Gophers during the second half against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium on November 29, 2014 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)

Wisconsin Badgers Spring Football 2015 Preview: Offensive Line

Offensive Line U, Running Back U, Tight End U — you don’t get one of these three titles in the past decade without the other two. It just so happens that Wisconsin has had a very successful run with the offensive line and it’s led to the other two shining as well.

As Wisconsin transitions to a new coaching staff, so does the offensive line, losing three long-term starters along the line. That means spring football is vitally important to figuring out what this group will look like come opening night against Alabama.

Previous Previews: Quarterback |

Let’s take a look at the people protecting the offensive backfield,  as we continue to through our Wisconsin Badgers spring football 2015 preview.

 

Returning Starter(s): Tyler Marz, LT; Dan Voltz, C

Departing Players: Rob Havenstein, RT; Kyle Costigan, RG; Dallas Lewallen, LG

Coming in to Program: Jon Deitzen (3-star, Seymour, Wis.); Kevin Estes (3-star, San Marcos, Cal.); David Moorman (3-star, Pinckney, Mich.)

Biggest Storyline: Will it be plug and play once again for the Badgers?

It seems that the Badgers just have a system in place that works. Things didn’t really change much as the Badgers went through one coaching turnover two years ago, and they’ll face another offseason of transition in 2015.

However, this time around the Badgers offensive line is much closer to being completely deep (15 players) than it was when Gary Andersen took over. The cupboard is nearly full for Joe Rudolph, who will coach the offensive line along with being the offensive coordinator this upcoming season.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 01: James White #20 of the Wisconsin Badgers celebrates a second quarter touchdown with Zac Matthias #75 and Tyler Marz #61while playing the Nebraska Cornhuskers during the Big 10 Conference Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 1, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 01: James White #20 of the Wisconsin Badgers celebrates a second quarter touchdown with Zac Matthias #75 and Tyler Marz #61while playing the Nebraska Cornhuskers during the Big 10 Conference Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 1, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Rudolph’s No. 1 task this spring is to figure out a group of five that works, and with three pieces of the puzzle open on the starting side there will be plenty of competition for starting spots. That said, the Badgers are also pretty young at some positions.

Can the Badgers make the most out of the talented youth they’ve brought in to the program, or will veterans rule the day?

At guard we could see a mix, with veteran Ray Ball likely to get the first crack at left guard — having filled in there on many an occasion over the last few years. Right guard will be interesting, as we could see talented (and experienced in practice) redshirt freshman Michael Deiter slide out there. After all, he did play literally all three interior offensive line positions as a starter last spring (thanks to injuries along the line).

Outside, will redshirt junior Walker Williams get the starting job he’s seemed destined for since arriving from Washington (the state) or will redshirt sophomore Hayden Beigel make another surprising jump and take over the power tackle position.

As you can see there are plenty of question marks for this group heading in to spring ball. The good news is Wisconsin just seems to plug-and-play along the line every single year. This is a group to watch closely all spring though.

Who Starts Against Alabama: Tyler Marz, LT; Ray Ball, LG; Dan Voltz, C; Michael Deiter, RG; Walker Williams, RT

While there are a lot of options for the Badgers coaching staff, based off of experience and performances in past springs and throughout the season last year this is the most logical group to come out of spring ball as starters.

Deiter may have the biggest battle on his hands to get a starting job because his best position is as a center, but his overall talent may get him on the field sooner than later. If it isn’t Deiter at right guard, look for fellow redshirt freshman George Panos to give him a run.

Andrew Coppens

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He is the Managing Editor of MadTownBadger and associate editor of Bloguin's World Cup site, 32flags.com as well as Publisher of Big Ten site talking10.com

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