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Badger Bits: Wisconsin's Next Left Tackle

Wisconsin will be breaking in a new starting left tackle during the 2013 season. Are Dallas Lewallen and Tyler Marz ready to step into the shoes of Joe Thomas and Co.?

Gregory Shamus

Ryan Groy has been Wisconsin's omni-offensive lineman for three seasons now, making starts at center, left guard and left tackle when called upon. He told Adam Rittenberg that he plans on staying pat in 2013, however. He has been at left guard this entire spring, and will stay there if he can help it. That all depends on how the competition at left tackle shakes out.

It'll be up to Dallas Lewallen or Tyler Marz to prove themselves, with Lewallen currently getting the most snaps with the ones. Neither player has yet to start a game in his career, Lewallen now a junior and Marz a sophomore. Of the three Bret Bielema-era left tackles, Joe Thomas and Gabe Carimi saw playing time when they had freshman eligibility, and Ricky Wagner had started most of the 2010 season at right tackle before flipping over to the left side in 2011. Lewallen and Marz are completely green by comparison, with 16 total game appearances between them.

For a team whose reason for being is churning out down-home 5-tech maulers, these are uncertain times. Lewallen and Marz didn't come to Wisconsin with notable pedigrees. Lewallen was the No. 8 player in Wisconsin according to Rivals, the No. 105 offensive tackle in the country according to Scout and earned honorable mention all-state as a senior. Marz got three stars and was ranked as the No. 7 player in Wisconsin by Rivals. Josh Oglesby, they weren't.

Then again, the fact that Groy, nor Rob Havenstein, nor anyone else has been flipped to left tackle thus far in spring is at least somewhat encouraging. Wisconsin lacks its usual numbers along the offensive line this spring, but it has enough depth to plausibly concoct a makeshift line putting Groy at left tackle and Lewallen and/or Marz on the pine.

Then again (pt. 2), spring practice is often experimentation-heavy, especially for a new coaching staff that is still figuring who is a square peg in round hole. Fall camp will be much more telling.

For this year's offense, left tackle is arguably the position of most concern. We know there will be a serviceable starter at quarterback even if we don't know who, and the lack of a No. 2 receiver can hopefully be masked by Jacob Pedersen and Jared Abbrederis being their usual, awesome selves. Lewallen and Marz, however, are still complete mysteries.


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