With Bob Bostad now back as the offensive line coach, things are about to get exciting. He already has an ample amount of talent to go along with 3,649 snaps of experience returning from last year. Last season, the offense got off to an uncharacteristically slow start under Joe Rudolph. However, it recovered as the season went on and is in a good place right now. I believe Bostad will be able to bring back the Badgers’ offensive line to the greatness it experienced from 2008 to 2011.
Bostad’s First Stint As Offensive Line Coach
During his first stint as the offensive line coach, he coached some of the best units in school history. From 2010 to 2011, his lines featured All-Americans Kevin Zeitler, Peter Konz, John Moffitt, and Gabe Carimi. During that span, one player won the Outland Trophy. He had eight players selected in the NFL Draft including three in the first round. In his two seasons at Wisconsin, the Badgers won back-to-back Big Ten titles.
The Ups and Downs of Joe Rudolph’s Offensive Lines
From 2015 to 2021, former offensive line coach Joe Rudolph’s units weren’t bad. It produced three All-Americans including one unanimous selection, one Rimington Trophy winner, and numerous All-Big Conference honors. The Badgers’ offenses finished in the top ten three times during that span. Seven players were also selected in the NFL Draft including one in the first round.
On paper, that’s a good run for any offensive line. However, that isn’t the performance that Badger fans are accustomed to, especially in a state known for churning talented offensive lineman. For the past couple of seasons, the Wisconsin offensive line hasn’t been dominant. When the Badgers started last season at 1-3, their offensive line was partially to blame.
Last season, the Badgers allowed 11 sacks in their first four games. During that time, it also seemed like Graham Mertz and Chase Wolfe were constantly under pressure. This wasn’t what Badger fans are used to seeing. The offensive line is always supposed to be a strength, when that is struggling then the entire offense becomes a mess. This was evident during the first half of the season and was a reason for the Badgers’ horrid start.
However, as the season went on, Wisconsin’s offensive line got better. After their horrible start, they only allowed six sacks the rest of the season. They would finish the year giving up just 17 sacks. The line also helped propel Braelon Allen to a record-breaking season. Three players (Josh Seltzner, Tyler Beach, and Logan Bruss) were selected to an All-Big Ten team. Currently, Joe Tippmann has developed into one of the Badgers’ most promising offensive linemen heading into this season.
Putting His Stamp On the Offensive Line Early
With the offensive line in a good place and the talent in the room, this is where Bostad can thrive. Last season, Rudolph’s philosophy was finding the five best offensive linemen on the team and then slotting them in positions. Bostad has moved drastically away from what Joe Rudolph has done. His philosophy is about locking an offensive lineman into one specific spot and maximizing their potential. Basically, finding the best spot along the offensive line that maximizes an offensive lineman’s strengths.
The changes are already happening. This spring, Bostad moved Jack Nelson from right guard to left tackle, Tyler Beach has moved inside from left tackle to left guard, and moved Logan Brown from left tackle to right tackle. Tanor Bortolini has seen time at center due to Joe Tippmann being held out with an injury.
I believe Bostad has the talent to get the offensive line back to what it was in the late 2000s. He’s clearly putting his stamp on this unit early and has the players brought in. With the number of changes happening on that unit, I expect the Badgers to get back to bullying opposing defenses. Bostad has been coaching the position for over 27 years including four years in the NFL. The returning players will greatly benefit from his knowledge this season. Get ready Badger fans, its time to see some domination up front again.