Wisconsin offensive line is a massive challenge for UNM

Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal

Bob Davie keeps a hand-written note from Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez taped to a wall in his office.

It’s a simple, yet meaningful reminder for Davie, who received the candid words from the former Badgers football coach when Davie first began coaching at New Mexico seven years ago.

“Bob,” the note reads. “Keep the blinds closed when you go into the fetal. Don’t flinch.”

Davie has great respect for the Wisconsin football program, now coached by Paul Chryst. Davie says he holds the Badgers’ brand of football in high regard.

In that sense he has been telling his players not to flinch this Saturday, when the Lobos will play at Wisconsin, ranked No. 5 in the AP Top 25 and No. 6 by the coaches.

Many defenses could go into the fetal position when facing a humongous offensive line that features all starters from last year and three returning All-Americans in Michael Deiter, David Edwards and Beau Benzschawel.

It’s a mammoth interior that checks in at a combined 1,582 pounds.

The majority of people say the offensive line never gets any attention in football. That is not the case in Wisconsin. They were featured in Sports Illustrated last month.

Deiter, a 6-foot-6, 310-pound left tackle, is one of two seniors. He has started every game since redshirting his freshman season.

Benzschawel is the other senior, a 6-6, 315-pound right guard.

The youngest of the bunch is Tyler Biadasz, a 6-3, 319 sophomore center.

Edwards, a 6-7, 315-pound junior, plays right tackle. And junior Jon Dietzen is a 6-6, 323-pound left guard.

They were a big reason the Badgers went 13-1 last year and entered this season ranked No. 4.

“If you said ‘OK, give me the brand or the identity of Wisconsin football,'” Davie said, “right away you say the offensive line. It’s always been that. It’s always been big, big bodies that get bigger once they get there. That is the starting point of Wisconsin football.”

Those big bodies up front create gaps with their blocking style, Davie said, to open up holes for sophomore sensation Jonathan Taylor, a running back who is among the nation’s Heisman hopefuls.

Wisconsin has not only had a strong tradition with offensive lineman, but also with their running backs, including Ron Dayne and Melvin Gordon.

Taylor is chasing Gordon’s Wisconsin single-season rushing record of 2,587 rushing yards. With an offensive line like the Badgers’, Chryst just might turn Taylor loose to get after Barry Sanders’ Division I mark of 2,628 yards.

Taylor ran for 145 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries in a 34-3 season-opening win over Western Kentucky. Gordon ran for 408 yards against Nebraska in 2014. Maybe Taylor will surpass that number against the Lobos?

Davie wants to make sure his team doesn’t leave Madison embarrassed. He doesn’t want his Lobos to flinch. If it’s time to go into a fetal position, make sure to close the blinds.

“They’re fun to watch if you aren’t playing them,” Davie said of Wisconsin’s offensive line. “They gap block more than most teams. They do zone block, but it’s gap (blocks). They are so big and so long that they come off and punch you and never panic on offense. And, they are so big that they create such a mass.

“It’s a huge challenge.”

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