Wisconsin's new defense forces front line adjustments


One thing to watch during Wisconsin's fall camp, which begins Monday, is how a group of veteran defensive linemen continue to adapt to a new 3-4 scheme.

New coach Gary Andersen has moved from a 4-3 to the 3-4, meaning that while the Badgers have three returning starters along the line, none will be playing the position he played last season.

The key will be nose tackle Beau Allen, a 320-pounder who had 37 tackles and 7.5 tackles for loss last season as a tackle in the 4-3. Allen weighed about 335 last season, but coaches wanted him a bit lighter for the season. How Allen performs in camp will be important because he missed spring drills while rehabbing after January ankle surgery. As with all nose tackles, Allen's main job will be to hold up at the point of attack and, hopefully, take on two blockers, something he really hasn't been asked to do before.

His running mate at tackle last season was Ethan Hemer, who now is at end. Hemer also was told to lose weight, from about 310 to 290. Hemer did not make many big plays last season, finishing with 24 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and a sack. Those numbers have to increase across the board.

The other end will be Pat Muldoon, who started six games at end last season. He has added about 10 pounds since last season, to 269, and he, too, needs to increase his production after finishing with 16 tackles and 5.5 tackles for loss last fall.

Defensive line coach Chad Kauha'aha'a, who spent the past two seasons at Utah, has praised backup end James Adeyanju, a sophomore who played in just three games last season. Coaches think Adeyanju has a chance to be a solid pass rusher as a 3-4 end, and he could push Muldoon. Senior Ethan Dippel also will see time at end.

Junior Warren Herring, who has added about 20 pounds and is up to 294, is the main backup to Allen. Squatty Bryce Gilbert (6-1, 307) also will be in the mix.

The Badgers are well-stocked at linebacker, with senior Chris Borland likely to vie for All-American honors. Former defensive end Brendan Kelly has moved to outside 'backer, and he has a chance to become a dangerous pass rusher. Expectations also are high for redshirt freshman outside linebacker Vince Biegel.

Follow Mike Huguenin on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content