Wisconsin Running Game Finds New Identity Post-Montee Ball

By Thomas Emerick
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Bret Bielema departs for Arkansas. Second all-time leading rusher in school history Montee Ball heads for the NFL draft while key cogs in the offensive line follow suit. The squad can only bring eight healthy offensive lineman into spring practice as April begins.

Wither the big, bad Wisconsin running game?

Time will tell, but they appear to be in good hands with new head coach Gary Andersen, despite all the uncertainty and injuries currently hitting the offensive line depth chart. Andersen oversaw a perennially potent running attack at Utah State, which may not have faced Big Ten defenses on a regular basis but did produce stellar college back and intriguing young pro Robert Turbin, now with the Seattle Seahawks. More recently, Andersen coached tailback Kerwynn Williams loose for 235 yards in the Aggies’ bowl win last year.

Offensive line coach T.J. Woods is among the assistants Andersen brought over from Utah State, so there should be a degree of comfort between the coaches at least when it comes to offensive line coordination. It will be tough to replace NFL-bound linemen like Travis Frederick and Ricky Wagner but whoever emerges from this group will have an atypically speedy Wisconsin back running behind them in James White.

Injuries have riddled the starting hopefuls for this line and are making spring practice difficult to evaluate under this new regime. Andersen is moving some pieces around though for the time being, according to the Wisconsin State Journal’s Tom Mulhern.

“Senior LG Ryan Groy got his first work of spring at LT during part of Monday practice for #Badgers. Dallas Lewallen moved from LT to LG,” Mulhern tweeted.

Thomas Emerick is a Senior Writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ThomasEmerick, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

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