Nagy working with Badgers' jumbo unit
"That is just want I want to do, help the team out any way I can," the University of Wisconsin fifth-year senior offensive lineman/tight end said. "We have a lot of good offensive linemen who have experience and can play."
When offensive line coach Bob Bostad decided days before the Big Ten Conference opener at Michigan State to go back to junior Kevin Zeitler at right guard, Nagy became the sixth man on a five-man offensive line for Wisconsin.
In order to keep him on the field and take advantage of his blocking ability and savvy, the offensive coaches decided to give the 6-foot-3, 318-pound Nagy No. 89 and use him as a tight end in the team's jumbo personnel package (two tight ends, two receivers and one back).
"It's a great package, and I think it's been working," fifth-year senior left guard John Moffitt said, "and I think Bill is doing a heck of a job with it."
That personnel package could figure prominently this week when Wisconsin (5-1, 1-1 Big Ten Conference) hosts No. 1 Ohio State (6-0, 2-0).
The Badgers are second in the Big Ten in rushing at 240.8 yards a game. Ohio State is second in the league against the run at 78.7 ypg.
Ohio State hasn't allowed a runner to hit the 100-yard mark for 29 consecutive games. The last runner to do so was Joe McKnight of Southern California (12 carries, 105 yards) in 2008.
"They are a talented defense," UW offensive coordinator Paul Chryst said. "They have a good scheme. You've got to play well to beat a team like that."
Nagy, who was the No. 1 right guard for the first four games, has done his part since taking on his new role.
He threw key blocks on Michigan State defensive end Tyler Hoover on both of James White's touchdown runs in the loss to the Spartans.
"It really hasn't been tough making the adjustment," he said. "I've played left guard, center and right guard. I know the assignments. I've been around."
On White's 16-yard run against the Spartans, Nagy lined up outside right tackle Ricky Wagner and drove Hoover 4 yards off the ball before Hoover was able to shed the block and pursue White.
By then it was too late, and White was on his way to the end zone.
Nagy was lined up next to left tackle Gabe Carimi on John Clay's 4- and 8-yard touchdown runs last week against Minnesota.
And his block on the 8-yarder was crucial.
At the snap, Carimi, Moffitt and center Peter Konz slanted to the right to create a hole in the middle. Nagy sealed off Minnesota's right defensive end, allowing Clay to cut inside that block and head to the end zone.
Clay met freshman defensive back James Manuel at the 3 and carried him into the end zone.
"I think Billy, if he had his druthers, would love to be the starting right guard," coach Bret Bielema said. "I'm not oblivious to that. But I also felt because of what I've learned about Billy … we gave him that role in that personnel grouping, and he just ran with it.
"It has been very productive. Even in the Michigan State game it was probably our most productive personnel grouping.
"I think it's just another good example of a selfless act on this football team by a senior that wants to do everything he can to help us win."
Contributing to any victory is sweet for Nagy. Helping UW upset Ohio State would be memorable in part because Nagy is from Hudson, Ohio, which is a few miles southeast of Cleveland.
"Growing up in Ohio, this game means a lot to me," he said. "My little sister went to Ohio State for two years … there's a lot of tradition there … I know a lot of friends that go to school there.
"We have tremendous respect for Ohio State. They're always in the Big Ten title race.
"That is a team we do need to beat."
What: No. 1 Ohio State (6-0 overall, 2-0 Big Ten) at No. 18 Wisconsin (5-1, 1-1).
Where: Camp Randall Stadium, Madison.
When: 6 p.m. Saturday.
TV/Radio: ESPN, Channel 27 on Janesville Charter cable) ; WCLO (1230 AM).
Last updated: 3:15 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012