This article originally appeared in The Badger Herald on October 13, 2015. It has been republished with the author’s permission.
Redshirt freshman right tackle used rehab time to build strength, confidence.
Well after the Wisconsin football team’s practice ended Tuesday, Beau Benzschawel wanted to work more.
While waiting to be interviewed by a gaggle of reporters, he sought out fifth-year senior Tyler Marz. Marz and Benzschawel, just a redshirt freshman, command the tackle positions for the Badgers’ battered and bruised offensive line.
Today’s lesson from the eldest member of the unit to one of its freshest members revolved around handling a twist stunt from defenders.
It’s one of many ways Benzschawel has prepared himself for the starting right tackle job, which he assumed before the Nebraska game last Saturday. Lincoln was quite the experience for someone’s first college game, he said.
“Being in an environment like Nebraska, with all their fans yelling the whole time, it was a cool feeling for sure,” Benzschawel said.
The right tackle spot for Wisconsin this season can be equated with the Defense Against the Dark Arts position at Hogwarts: No one seems to hang on to it.
Injuries to redshirt freshman Hayden Biegel and Jacob Maxwell opened the door for Benzschawel last week.
Benzschawel was in position to earn the starting job to begin the season, but a knee injury sidelined him during training camp. It was a long road back, but the recovery process made him a better player. UW’s Strength and Conditioning team worked hard with Benzschawel to improve his upper-body strength.
“I made some really big gains in the weight room upper-body wise,” Benzschawel said. “I think it just really helped me to come back out here and feel more comfortable being able to toss dudes around a little more.”
As for his performance Saturday, Benzschawel said he was happy he didn’t allow a sack, but added there’s always room for improvement.
UW offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph said Benzschawel’s play Saturday gave the offense a physical element.
“He battled his tail off. He’d be the first to tell you he wasn’t perfect on every [play], but the things are correctable; we’ll correct,” Rudolph said. “There’s some technique stuff that we’ll clean up, but the fight, the physical nature — love that.”
A 6-foot-6, 308-pounder from Grafton, Wisconsin, Benzschawel is just the latest member of UW’s offensive line to step up when his number was called.
“I think everyone expects that. Injuries are a part of football,” Benzschawel said. “You always just gotta be ready, paying attention in meetings, watching other guys’ reps and making sure you’re ready.”