Stellar, Standard and Subpar: Cole Van Lanen in 2020
As we head into July, AllBadgers.com looks at a few potential key contributors on the Wisconsin football roster for next season.
During these evaluations, we will hypothesize just exactly what a stellar, standard and subpar season could be for each individual player. On Monday, let us jump back onto the offensive side of the ball and see just what a Badgers offensive lineman could do during his final year in Madison.
Cole Van Lanen came to UW as a four-star recruit by Rivals and 247Sports. Last season, he asserted himself as the starting left tackle for an offensive line that helped gain 3,263 total rushing yards on the ground and average over 200 per game through the air. He started 13 of the games, missing just one due to injury in 2019.
The year prior, Van Lanen and Jon Dietzen worked as a platoon at the position, though the former received so many reps he could have been thought of as a co-starter.
Now with Tyler Biadasz gone to the NFL and the Dallas Cowboys -- and both David Moorman and Jason Erdmann have exhausted their ability as well -- the line will look different this year. Van Lanen will be the elder statesman and perhaps the true penciled-in starter for a group that will have competition on the interior. The tackle spots appear to have at least three game-ready Badgers ready to play. That will help offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Joe Rudolph find the best combination of five players..
In this scenario, Van Lanen anchors the offensive line at left tackle and disrupts any and all opposing defenses' pass rushes. First-team All-Big Ten and All-America nods flood the Bay Port product's collegiate resume before he heads to the NFL.
As the leader of the group up front, it gels and does not miss a beat in opening up gaping holes for its running backs and keeping the quarterbacks upright despite three key contributors leaving from a year prior. In this outlook, the offense continues its balanced attack and exceeds expectations despite missing Biadasz, running Jonathan Taylor and wide receiver Quintez Cephus.
During this hypothesized timeline, Van Lanen locks down the left side of the line as one of the Big Ten's best, and his leadership shows in a group working to reload at center and guard. All-conference honors and some All-America considerations are sent his way to wrap up his Wisconsin career.
As for a "standard" Wisconsin offensive line, it does what it always does -- clears paths for the Badger backs and mostly keeps its signal callers from being sacked (maybe allowing a little more than one per contest like it did in 2019). Though it will be hard to replace individually what Taylor did rushing the ball, the offense still is productive with its ground game.
This is more a group discussion (as seen in the other player profiles) and with Van Lanen, I do not know how a subpar year could look for him unless injuries or other unforeseen circumstances pop up. So long as he keeps to his 1/11th on the field that UW preaches, he should be a standout lineman for the program.
For the offensive line as a whole, this imaginary scenario may show that the unit does not gel properly, whether by injury or performance. However, the running game does not drop to the level of 2015 output in Paul Chryst's first season as head coach (150.3 per contest on 3.8 yards per attempt).
Again, Van Lanen seems primed for a huge season (whenever it is played). He likely puts himself in position to be another Wisconsin lineman to head to the next level — a testament to his work ethic and abilities.