MADISON -- The casual fan might not fully understand Beau Allen's value in his new role as a 3-4 nose guard. A handful of would-be tackles and sacks are being handled to linebackers behind him while the senior fights through double-teams, a selfless job that serves as the engine of Wisconsin's new defense.
It doesn't bother the 6-foot-3, 325-pounder, though, especially when his efforts are rewarded with Trolli Eggs, the hard-shelled candy full of delicious, sour worms inside each bite.
"I have a deal with Chris (Borland) where every time he gets a TFL because I'm getting double-teamed, he buys me some candy," Allen said. "He bought me some Trolli Eggs (on Tuesday). It's a really underrated candy."
An abundance of appreciation has rained down from coaches and players in regard to Allen's play so far this season. He said he's becoming more comfortable with his new position, which wasn't necessarily the case as recently as a couple weeks ago.
Allen recorded just one assisted tackle against Tennessee Tech, a stat line the All-Big Ten performer isn't accustomed to.
"That was one thing that frustrated me," Allen said, "I was like, ‘That's not fun.' So I was frustrated at first, but I really like it. I feel like I'm finally starting to get that experience now as a true nose guard. I feel a lot more comfortable. I think it's been a really good thing for me."
A career performance in Saturday's game against Arizona State likely helped that process. On top of scoring a touchdown off a blocked punt, Allen recorded four tackles and regularly got excellent penetration into the Sun Devils' backfield.
Allen called it one of the best games of his career, and linebacker Brendan Kelly said Allen manhandled the opposing center all night. For defensive line coach Chad Kauha'aha'a, it was a display of how an offense will pay when it tries to get away with not holding a double team to Allen the entire game.
"If he doesn't get doubled, then he needs to be making plays, and that's what happened in the (Arizona State) game," Kauha'aha'a said. "They thought they could slip off, and Beau ended up making plays down the line."
Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda said the defense starts inside with Allen and works its way out. Allen's the one freeing up plays for everyone else on the field, and his ability to push the pocket on passing downs allows the Badgers' pass rushers to collapse down on the quarterback.
Kelly has a firsthand look from the outside linebacker position. He said even last year, when Allen was a 4-3 defensive tackle, he could use his strength to move the line of scrimmage, making life easier for the rest of the front seven.
"There's a big difference when Beau Allen's in the game," Kelly said. "It's like, ‘Wow, why are we getting so much push?' It's just because his presence in there and his power. He can just really push guys back and eat up blocks. [The linebackers] can just fly to the ball and not be touched."
Now that he's gaining experience in a 3-4 scheme, Allen's proven versatility by season's end could bump up his NFL Draft stock. Many currently project him to be a late-round selection.
"I think that'll help him tremendously," Kauha'aha'a said. "By him getting this year under his belt -- he's doing a nice job already --it makes him more marketable where he can play in a 4-3 and he can play in a 3-4. I think that'll up his stock. I definitely think he's an NFL draft pick."
Allen's certainly on the right track, and he expects to stay on it. After having one of his best all-around games Saturday, Allen wants to have the same kind of impact as the Badgers enter Big Ten play.
"I want to make that the norm," he said. "Once you have a good game like that, you set the bar for yourself. To be honest, I would be disappointed if I didn't play that well every week."
The Wisconsin linebackers can continue to expect more free lanes this season, and plenty more Trolli Egg purchases.
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