2019 Wisconsin Rewind: Offensive line

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Jake Kocorowski

The 2019 college football season has officially passed for the Wisconsin Badgers after falling to the No. 6 Oregon Ducks in the 2020 Rose Bowl Game on Jan. 1.

AllBadgers.com presents a new series, "2019 Wisconsin Rewind," that will break down each UW position group from last season. Positional stats, standout and rough performances will be dissected, and one question will be presented for each room heading into spring ball later this year.

Previous installments: Quarterbacks; running backs/fullbacks; wide receivers; tight ends

The Wisconsin offensive line continued the tradition set forth by its predecessors during the 2019 season, grinding out a top-15 ground attack but also keeping its quarterback upright.

While at first using a rotation at guard for a portion of the year, Wisconsin and offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Joe Rudolph solidified their set of contributors later on.

UW rushed for over 200 times in eight of the 14 contests during the 2019 season, and that included going over 300 yards on the ground in three consecutive weeks in November after the team's second open weekend. 

Tyler Biadasz anchored the line at center once again, and before he declared for the 2020 NFL Draft on Wednesday, he claimed unanimous first-team All-America and consensus first-team All-Big Ten honors. He also was named the 2019 Rimington Trophy recipient, given each season to the top center in the nation.

Next to Biadasz, two redshirt seniors eventually locked down the roles at the guard spots. Versatile lineman David Moorman first worked as a tight end during the season-opening win at USF then started at right tackle against Central Michigan due to a Logan Bruss injury, but he eventually slid back into the interior line to start at left guard in seven of the final eight games. The fifth-year player could play at every position within Wisconsin's line. 

Jason Erdmann, a former walk-on, eventually started 13 of 14 games this season. He kicked off the season at left guard against the Bulls but then flipped to the right side. He eventually started nine games at that latter position, including the final seven contests.

Staying on that right side of the line, Bruss played in 13 games -- 12 at right tackle and one at right guard against Illinois when Erdmann did not play in Champaign. 

One of the anchors on the edge of the line, redshirt junior Cole Van Lanen missed the home finale win versus Purdue but started 13 games at left tackle. He later claimed second-team all-conference honors by the media. 

With his abilities to swing out to play on both edges, redshirt sophomore Tyler Beach started one game each at left and right tackle against Purdue and Illinois, respectively.

Guards Kayden Lyles and Josh Seltzner each started four games as well throughout the course of the season, and both return for a team that will likely need their presence with a retooled line taking shape.

Offensive line stats

  • Rushing yards per game: 233.1 (15th in the nation as of Jan. 10)
  • Sacks allowed in 14 games: 20
  • Tyler Biadasz: Unanimous first-team All-America; consensus first-team All-Big Ten selection; first Wisconsin player to ever win the Rimington Trophy, given to the nation's top center
  • Cole Van Lanen: Second-team All-Big Ten selection by the media
  • Logan Bruss: Consensus All-Big Ten honorable mention

Best performance

I'm going to look at the three-game stretch right after the second bye weekend where Wisconsin accumulated 300 rushing yards against Iowa, 320 yards against Nebraska and 403 in the home finale against Purdue. The line asserted its will over the Big Ten West foes to help UW eventually capture the division crown in what became an impressive November showing.

For that matter, in the last six games, Wisconsin's offensive line allowed just five sacks. 

Worst performance

Like most of these position previews for the offense, it goes back to the regular season matchup against Ohio State on Oct. 26. Inside the Horseshoe, the Badgers could muster just 83 yards rushing against the Buckeyes. Future first-round NFL Draft pick Chase Young dominated UW's pass protection schemes to the tune of four sacks.

Question for 2020: Who will lock down the interior line spots?

Earlier this week, Biadasz unsurprisingly declared for the 2020 NFL Draft. Both Erdmann and Moorman are redshirt seniors who have exhausted their eligibility. With that, the three starting members of UW's interior line for the 2020 Rose Bowl will not be with the team next season. In particular, replacing Biadasz will be a key question for the team heading into next season.

Lyles will now have a full year under his belt in being back with the offensive line, this after transitioning to play on the defensive side of the ball for the 2018 campaign. He played guard and center positions during 2019 spring ball, but Rudolph mentioned in August how they contained his responsibilities to just the former during fall camp. Will they expand his potential role again this year?

Seltzner, a former walk-on on Erdmann, has playing experience and gained valuable reps at guard in 2019. As mentioned earlier, Bruss also started against Illinois at right guard, but the in-state product also worked at that spot for a time during spring practices in a bit of cross-training. That could give Rudolph some flexibility depending upon development of the Appleton, Wis., native and others.

Does Cormac Sampson -- who moved from tight end to the offensive line during the spring and fall camp, then back to tight end when injuries hit Mickey Turner's room -- return to Rudolph's group? He played tackle and center during those summer practices open to the media before asserting himself well within UW's offense this season.

It should also bear watching how Michael Furtney, Blake Smithback and Joe Tippmann progress and find their way starting in the spring. Furtney played in all 14 games this season, Smithback saw action in three contests, and Tippmann was seen at center at one point during fall camp in August. 

When asked during Rose Bowl media availability about which young players stepped up during bowl prep practices, Rudolph mentioned Tippmann's name.*

*Quotes from Rudolph coming courtesy of CollegePressBox.com.

Comments (4)
No. 1-2
Boston Badger
Boston Badger

Did you forget Logan Brown? Isn't he the highest rated recruit, except for Mertz, in his class?

Boston Badger
Boston Badger

Rushing numbers were skewed by a weak early schedule. No holes created against better teams. Pass protection also was not good against better teams.