Frederick among UW's offensive replacements
UW enters preseason camp having to replace left tackle Gabe Carimi (49 starts) and left guard John Moffitt (42 starts), both first-team All-Americans last season. Carimi was selected in the first round of the NFL draft and Moffitt went in the third round.
Yet Konz, who has 19 starts in two seasons, acknowledges he will be disappointed if the line suffers a noticeable drop-off in 2011.
“You never want to say you’d be disappointed because those guys are really irreplaceable,” he said. “And it’s going to be a completely different line, even though everybody has played before and we all know each other.”
“We always believe it starts with the offensive line,” Konz continued. “We’ve got to be the leaders.”
Solid recruiting and player development under the direction of line coach Bob Bostad has left UW in position to at least absorb the departure of Carimi and Moffitt.
During spring practice Bostad moved Ricky Wagner to left tackle from right tackle and inserted Travis Frederick, who redshirted last season, at left guard. Wagner, a former walk-on tight end who started 10 games last season as a redshirt sophomore, lacks Carimi’s experience. However, he is more athletic and his strength is underrated.
Frederick, a Walworth Big Foot High graduate, was good enough to open the 2009 season as UW’s starting center before suffering an ankle injury in Week 3, which opened the door for Konz. The third-year sophomore redshirted last season to help build depth for 2011.
“I don’t know how you follow a line like last year,” Frederick said. “But we have one of the best coaches in college football. And I don’t say that just to throw it out there. He is so detail-oriented on technique...
“He is going to have guys prepared. I don’t know if we’re going to be able to come close to what we had last year, but I believe we’re going to be able to reload and go from there.
“I’m excited to be a part of that. It has been tough sitting out and watching.”
With understated and underappreciated senior Kevin Zeitler back at right guard, the only battle for a starting spot should be at right tackle.
The candidates are fifth-year senior Josh Oglesby, who was limited to individual work in the spring because he was recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee; redshirt freshman Rob Havenstein; and redshirt sophomore Casey Dehn.
Havenstein, listed at 6-foot-8 and 345 pounds, worked with the No. 1 unit for most of spring practice. He looked solid enough to open the season as the starter.
Oglesby, 6-7 and 330 pounds, has 15 starts in three seasons but has been hampered by inconsistent pass-blocking and persistent knee problems. Oglesby hurt his left knee in the 2010 opener, aggravated the injury in Week 2 and missed the next two games. He returned for the Big Ten Conference opener and played in the first three league games, on special teams, with Wagner remaining the starter at right tackle.
Oglesby then missed the final six games last season after suffering the torn ACL. He recently had minor surgery on the knee and is expected to be ready for camp, though he likely will be given one session off during two-a-days.
“He’s got 15 (starts) under his belt so he will have an edge just because he has experience, which is invaluable,” Bostad said. “But how far can Robbie and Casey close the gap? Only fall practice will tell you that. We’ve just got to wait.
“I feel good about Josh in probably nine out of 10 aspects. The biggest thing with Josh right now is that he comes into camp at the weight we like him at (325 pounds). That is the first measurable thing. Then on the field, I feel good about a lot of what Josh does out there, especially run-blocking.
“His biggest deal is to secure the edge.”
With Havenstein at right tackle there were times during the spring when the No. 1 line dominated UW’s defensive front.
If the staff can get solid play from the right tackle position, the unit should flourish in 2011 despite the loss of Carimi and Moffitt.
“You don’t want to take it for granted, but you do have a lot of guys who have been there,” offensive coordinator Paul Chryst said. “I think what helps is the way they approach it. They understand the urgency of it. They understand the importance of each day and each drill.
“And sometimes when you don’t know, you just kind of go through it. So you’ve got guys that maybe didn’t start last year but have started games.”