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Luke Fickell reveals surprise pick for most consistent Badgers OL in 2023

The Badgers offensive line has started to come together in recent weeks

The Wisconsin Badgers have started the season strong with a 3-1 record, losing only to the Washington State Cougars in a close bout on the road in Week 2.

As the weeks have gone along, the Badgers’ offense has slowly started to come together, highlighted in a 38-17 Week 4 victory over the Purdue Boilermakers where Wisconsin finally started fast, scoring three consecutive touchdowns to begin the game.

While the quarterback and skill position players earn much of the spotlight in new offensive coordinator Phil Longo’s scheme, the Badgers’ offensive line has slowly come together as well, working well to protect the quarterback, while rushing lanes have consistently been there.

Most of the offensive line has returned from a season ago, but the Badgers did land two transfers, guard Joe Huber and center Jake Renfro, with the former earning the starting left guard job.

As a result, the Badgers have trotted out a starting five of Jack Nelson, Huber, Tanor Bortolini, Michael Furtney, and Riley Mahlman from left to right.

Who has been the most consistent option through four games?

Speaking with reporters as a part of his weekly media session on Monday, head coach Luke Fickell had some high praise for right tackle Riley Mahlman, deeming him the most consistent, a potential surprise as the offensive lineman isn't talked about as much.

“I think he’s kind of he’s probably the quiet one that nobody talks as much about and if anything is the most consistent guy,” Fickell said. “I’d say I think he’s done a really good job.”

However, the biggest positive when it comes to Mahlman is the potential of the right tackle, given his size, youth, and athleticism.

“I think that when we look at him and we have this opinion of Riley, there’s so much more left in there just because of his size and athleticism,” Fickell said. He’s obviously only a sophomore, a guy that’s going to get stronger and stronger and stronger, and his future to play this game can be for a long.”

“If you were to ask me more than anything, I would say he’s maybe one of the more consistent pieces up front. A guy that hasn’t come out, a guy that hasn’t subbed a whole lot, but yet a guy that you don’t bring up his name a ton because he’s doing all the little things really well.”

Mahlman is a second-year starter for the Badgers, earning the right tackle job last camp and sticking with it upon the arrival of the new staff.

While left tackle Jack Nelson and center Tanor Bortolini usually get the most acclaim amongst the Badgers’ front, it’s nice to hear Mahlman see some love as well from the coaching staff for a solid performance through the first four weeks.