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Notebook: Wisconsin’s offensive line shines vs. Florida Atlantic

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The Badgers’ o-line had quite a bit going on during Saturday’s win over FAU.

In typical Wisconsin fashion, the Badgers rushed for 357 yards in their victory over the Florida Atlantic Owls on Saturday.

With two rushers eclipsing the hundred-yard plateau, including freshman phenom Jonathan Taylor rushing for 223 yards and three touchdowns in his first career start, the Badgers were able to dominate the time of possession to the tune of a 38:34-to-21:26 advantage.

Naturally, the offensive line deserves much of the credit. Here are a few of the headlines from the o-line after Saturday’s win:

Beau Benzschawel leaves game with right leg injury

During the second quarter of the game, redshirt junior Micah Kapoi took over for Beau Benzschawel, who had an undisclosed right leg injury. Jon Dietzen mentioned question during a question discussing the Badgers’ goal-line struggles today.

“Beau is the pad-level guy,” he said. “Especially when we get down close, Beau is always the guy who’s reminding everyone to stay low.”

Kapoi, who normally rotates with Dietzen at left guard, was able to switch over to right guard.

“Micah does a great job, he fought his butt off, it’s impressive as hell that he was able to flip over like that,” Dietzen said. “It’s a big thing to switch sides.”

When asked during the post-game press conference, Chryst was unsure of Benzschawel’s availability moving forward.

The utilization of outside zone

The Badgers ran outside zone more than most Badger fans are accustomed to, and Taylor took advantage.

“They actually came out in a front that.. we play against the odd front a lot, but it wasn’t something that we expected,” Dietzen said. “The outside zone became something to lean on. We’ve been repping it through camp so that helped a lot.”

The Owls played a 4-2-5 in the first week against Navy, but ran more 3-4 looks against the Badgers. The ability of the offense to adjust off of that will be critical moving forward.

Next weekend’s opponent, BYU, runs an odd front (3-4).

Speaking of BYU...

The Badgers will head out to Provo, Utah, to play BYU, an underrated environment. The Cougars don’t get a ton of accolades from the media, but their fans are always rabid and their team is tough and physical. BYU traditionally runs a 3-4 base defense, and some of the Badgers’ offensive linemen feel as though that’s advantageous for Wisconsin.

“It’s nothing new to us, which is weird for us,” Kapoi said. “Most teams run a base four down (defensive linemen) but I think it’s an advantage for us. We can cut it loose.”

Dietzen and Deiter echoed Kapoi’s comments.

Tyler [Biadasz] and Alex [Hornibrook], they’re both really good visually to make sure we know who is who’s guy,” Dietzen said. “I thought today we did a good job of making sure we were in the right spot.”

“It sort of gives you some complications with their pressures, they look a little different,” Deiter said. “I do know that their base is odd, which we’ve seen a ton of, and I think we’re really comfortable blocking the odd front.”

Notes:

  • The official attendance was 77,542.
  • Of FAU’s 15 total offensive drives, 10 gained fewer than 10 yards.
  • Taylor is Wisconsin’s first true freshman to start at running back since Zach Brown did so in 2007.
  • Taylor also became UW’s fourth true freshman to rush for 200 yards in a game. The other three were Alan Ameche (1951), Ron Dayne (1996, five times), and Brown (2007).
  • Taylor’s 200-yard performance was the first for Wisconsin since Melvin Gordon rushed for 251 yards in the Outback Bowl in 2015, making Taylor’s the first 200-yard rushing effort since Paul Chryst took over as head coach.
  • The Badgers recorded five sacks on the day (Chris Orr, T.J. Edwards, Leon Jacobs, Garret Dooley, and Andrew Van Ginkel).
  • Scouts from the Atlanta Falcons and Minnesota Vikings were in attendance for today’s game. Wisconsin has a few players who are likely NFL-bound.