After a lackluster performance by the offensive line in Wisconsin's spring game, head coach Paul Chryst spoke about his men in the trenches.
"We're not nearly where we want to be," Chryst said. "I think there's some guys who have grown and done some good things, but right now we don't have the depth that maybe you'd like to have."
While it's worth noting the offensive line is not currently at full strength, the lack of depth that Chryst spoke of is definitely worrisome. There are high hopes that Corey Clement can continue to lead the Badgers' offense as Melvin Gordon's replacement, but in order for that to be remotely feasible, the Badgers will need to rely upon their offensive line.
Also, since it seems ever more likely that Joel Stave will hold onto the starting quarterback job, the O-line won't often be bailed out by a quarterback scramble. I expect the offensive line to respond to this rare criticism and be in necessary form by the start of the season.
A very interesting debate among Wisconsin fans this offseason questioned who would step up at wide reciever alongside Alex Erickson. Judging from the spring game, it appears we have our answer: junior Robert Wheelwright put on a strong performance at Camp Randall with seven catches for 79 yards and two touchdowns. Chryst hopes he uses the game as momentum.
"Hopefully Rob can take this and gain some confidence from it," new coach Paul Chryst said. "Because if we’re going to be any good we’ve got to get production at that position."
It's crucial that Wisconsin can start the season with two formidable receivers, because the last thing the Badgers need is for Erickson to be constantly double-covered and not present a viable second option for Stave. Wheelwright appears to be a reliable second receiver that can take the pressure off Erickson. Going into the game, he was battling for the spot with Reggie Love, but Love was unable to play due to injury. George Rushing also had a solid game but I don't expect him to suddenly challenge Wheelwright's reps.
Sophomore lineman Jonathan Gruetzmacher attended the Wisconsin spring game Saturday and the Badgers hope to reel in the Wisconsin native. Gruetzmacher has been turning heads even at his young age with his 6'8, 277-pound frame. While he is still early in the recruiting process, Wisconsin hopes he can be part of their 2017 class.
Recent commit Luke Benzschawel was also in Madison again over the weekend. Benzschawl, who played his high school ball in Grafton, Wis., is part of a legacy of past Badgers after his dad and older brother both played for Wisconsin. While visiting, Benzschawel worked to push other uncommited recruits who also were at the spring game to pick Wisconsin. Watching the Badgers play solidified the young defensive end's opinion that he will fit in with the team's defense.