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Badgers Film Room: Wisconsin turns to Jumbo package to power run game vs. Iowa

The Badgers turned to arguably their strongest position group to give them a lift over the Hawkeyes.

NCAA Football: Wisconsin at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Size matters.

That’s especially true for the Wisconsin Badgers, who depended on what may be the heaviest lineup in college football vs. the Iowa Hawkeyes last weekend. The Badgers often played with six or even seven offensive linemen in the game in order to dig out some running lanes against a tough Iowa defensive front.

The usual five (six) of Jon Dietzen/Cole Van Lanen, Michael Deiter, Tyler Biadasz, Beau Benzschawel, and David Edwards was featured heavily (no pun intended) in the Badgers’ gameplan last weekend, but lesser-used linemen Logan Bruss and Jason Erdmann also made cameos in the run game. Sporting some numbers (89 and 96, respectively) that they don’t usually wear, the reserve linemen were crucial in being able to physically overwhelm the Hawkeyes up front.

This play is nothing special or fancy, but the sheer size of the Badgers up front is able to punish Iowa on first down. The Badgers come out in 13 personnel, and Iowa responds with putting 10 defenders in or near the box.

However, when you have that much size and #girth up front, numbers don’t really matter. A simple off-tackle play to the left gets eight yards on first down and gets the drive started for Wisconsin. Bruss and Erdmann are playing off of the line of scrimmage on the left and cave in the defense, giving Heisman candidate Jonathan Taylor a considerable running lane.

“It gave us a huge boost of confidence, we knew we could get to it,” Erdmann said. “Play after play after play, we could run it, it would work.”

Punishment. Just sheer, overwhelming physicality from Wisconsin, who moves the sticks on the very next play. Jake Ferguson is the only non-offensive lineman among the eight blockers for Taylor in the vicinity of this play.

Dietzen and Bruss cave down the right side of Iowa’s defensive line and Erdmann and Ferguson dig out some back-seven defenders for a big first down. When the Badgers can run the football like this, offensive sub-package aside, they’re simply going to wear a defense down.

“We’ve done a little bit of it this year, but this week was the first time we really did a lot of it in practice,” Bruss said. “It’s definitely exciting to be on the field as an extra blocker, it’s just an opportunity to make plays when your number is called.”

With Wisconsin’s tight end depth an issue thus far this season, look for more of this package.

“We block with each other every day [Bruss and Erdmann], so it’s nothing new than what we’ve been doing all year,” Bruss said.

Yet, running the football wasn’t the only use the Jumbo package would have for Wisconsin last weekend.

With Erdmann in the game as an extra tight end, Iowa is expecting Wisconsin to try to cram it down their throats. Especially with fullback Alec Ingold in the game, an educated guess would be a run play, which played right into what the Badgers were looking to.

On a play that Ingold has scored on in his collegiate career, he sells a fake as a lead blocker and leaks out to the flat, lulling the defender to sleep before getting upfield and making a huge catch for the Badgers.

Teams have to absolutely sell out against the run with such heavy personnel in the ballgame, so look for Wisconsin to attack defenses in multiple ways out of heavy packages moving forward.

With an abundance of offensive linemen who deserve playing time despite a limited amount of snaps and playing time available, this is a chance to reward some of those players. Head coach Paul Chryst always preaches about needing every player on the roster to win games, and this approach takes that philosophy into practice.

As the Badgers fight their way through Big Ten play, in particular against Michigan, look for Wisconsin to utilize this formation and personnel package to get bigger and better on the field.