Injuries leave offensive line unsettled at No. 20 Wisconsin
MADISON, Wis. (AP) Injuries have made it difficult for Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst to settle on a starting offensive line.
But positions on the rest of the line appear to up for grabs less than two weeks away from Wisconsin's challenging opener against Alabama in Arlington, Texas on Sept. 5. It's possible there could be three first-year starters for a program known for imposing front fives.
''We've had about every combination of an offensive line out there so I think I've played next to everyone I can,'' Marz said Tuesday. ''That's a good thing so whoever is thrown in there at left guard I will be ready for.''
Redshirt freshmen Michael Dieter was at left guard on the last day that training camp was open to media. Dieter had already been anointed a starter by Chryst earlier in camp, but seemed destined for the right side.
''It's been tough with all of the in and out and in and out with some of the guys,'' senior quarterback Joel Stave said. ''But that's part of the game. We understand that. They have done a good job of responding to the injuries.''
Stave said while the line was a question mark entering fall camp, he isn't concerned about the lack of continuity in practice.
''Being in a position where I've started as many games as I have and played behind as many different offensive linemen, one of the biggest things is you have to be sure you can trust them,'' Stave said.
''These guys have done a good job coming to work every day and making sure they know their assignments. Then it's up to me to trust them and know they are good players who will get the job done.''
While the various combinations in camp have helped develop depth, it's nearly time to settle on a starting unit.
''So much of it is learning to work with each other. It's not just what you're doing. There are a lot of double-team combinations,'' Chryst said. ''In pass blocking you're working with each other. It's getting a feel for each guy and communication. That's got to be a focal point for this week.''
It has created opportunities for relatively unknown players like the 6-foot-3, 330-pound Kapoi.
''He started to think a little less and play a little more,'' Chryst said. ''He has enough ability. It wasn't that he was all perfect or clean but he was putting some things on tape that earned him the right to get more snaps.''