This past Friday the Wisconsin Badgers offensive line and tight ends took center stage on a Zoom call featuring the local media. Tight end’s coach Mickey Turner, junior TE Jake Ferguson and senior offensive linemen Cole Van Lanen and Jon Dietzen logged on to tell us how their respective position groups are looking heading into Week 1 against Illinois.
Let’s start with the most important part of the press conference first. Van Lanen potentially implied, with limited evidence, that the offensive line was the funniest/most fun position group on the team.
“It’s a really fun huddle to be in,” Van Lanen potentially putting the offensive line out there as the funniest position group on the team.— BOOky’s 5th Quarter (@B5Q) October 16, 2020
We may need to hear from other members of the team to confirm this.
Van Lanen also seemed to imply that the reason everything was so fun was because of Dietzen’s return to the locker room. We will probably have to do a deep dive into this and discover which position group is actually the most fun/has the best jokes. THIS IS IMPORTANT JOURNALISM!
“Dietzen looks great. He’s looking strong and it’s been fun.” - LT Cole Van Lanen on having Jon Dietzen back— BOOky’s 5th Quarter (@B5Q) October 16, 2020
Speaking of Dietzen, it is wonderful to see him back on the field with the team. Based on everything he said during his time on camera and everything that other players and coaches have said about having him back, it sounds like it was the right decision for him. It definitely doesn’t hurt the depth at guard, because Dietzen is the Week 1 starter.
“The more football I watched the more I missed it,” says Jon Dietzen who is back on the team after retiring and missing all of last year. pic.twitter.com/1VKVICINF6— BOOky’s 5th Quarter (@B5Q) October 16, 2020
A few other quick notes from the offensive linemen:
- Van Lanen, who dealt with lingering injuries last year, is feeling better. He said last year he “didn’t feel very powerful” but this year he is “ready to roll.”
- Van Lanen says new QB1 Graham Mertz is “getting comfortable in the huddle and we are getting comfortable with him.” But notes that injured QB1 Jack Coan is still a leader for the team.
The tight ends were also represented on the Zoom call last Friday and Ferguson presented a anecdote that maybe suggests the o-line is pretty funny?
Ferguson says that it's great seeing OL Jon Dietzen's red-headed flow back on the field and that Dietz was "looking stiff" while running at practice yesterday and Dietz said "I know I'm 40!"— BOOky’s 5th Quarter (@B5Q) October 16, 2020
Ferguson, who is the top tight end on the team and one of the tops in the conference too, has apparently been preparing much better for every practice, according to his position coach.
Turner says that consistency is key for Jake Ferguson this year and his approach has been "night and day" from this year to last and he thinks Ferg will "have a really good year." @barryisthedon #Ferg4Heisman— BOOky’s 5th Quarter (@B5Q) October 16, 2020
Turner also notes that his guys (the tight ends) are competing harder than usual because there is more depth at the position this year than last year. That has to be a nice change of pace for Turner, who suffered through an injury-depleted year as the tight ends’ coach in 2019.
As is tradition in these Zoom calls, both freshman WR Chimere Dike and freshman OLB Nick Herbig were brought up. Ferguson said Dike is a player “people are going to know” sooner rather than later. He also mentioned Herbig as “tough to block” and notes that the freshman from Hawaii has bested him a couple of times in drills.
Some other notes from the tight end portion of the press conference:
- Turner says that Hayden Rucci and Clay Cundiff are bigger bodied guys that can add some good weight and maybe fill a blocking TE role. Notes with Ferguson’s flexibility that the next guy up can be a blocker or a pass catcher.
- “Rucci and Clay are the two meatheads just going at it.” said Ferguson, with love, talking about having some depth in the TE room this year.
- Ferguson mentions that QB1 Graham Mertz has “embraced his role really well.”
- Due to their contributions on special teams, Turner thinks that maybe five or six TEs will be travelling with the team this year. Lists: Ferguson, Cundiff, Rucci, Jack Eschenbach, Gabe Lloyd and Jaylan Franklin as potentially guys who will be on the active roster.
- Speed, length, twitchiness are three words that Turner uses to describe new TE Franklin. Turner notes that “ironing technique into him” is the next step towards getting him on the field as he recently converted from OLB.