August 13, 2010
Rush attack runs on experience up front
MADISON - Chemistry, as it relates to a football team, is not hard to define. It is, however, hard to create.
Like most relationships, true understanding with one another and trust for each other doesn't appear overnight. In some instances it takes months, maybe even years, for a team to truly coalesce together and form a bond that is strong enough to push through the good times and sludge through the rough ones.
With a core of players that have been in the program for four, some even five, years, the Wisconsin offensive line has a chemistry that shines over the program like a park loaded with Christmas lights.
A good offensive line, like the Badgers one will be, is the focal point of the offense. It's where every play begins and, depending on the source of the breakdown, where one can see the end as it's traced back to a mistake.
It is without a doubt one of the more important positional units on any football team.
And it's knowing that fact that forces this year's offensive linemen to forget about the past. Instead, they know they need to focus on what lies ahead because greatness isn't achieved on paper.
"We're all back together," senior left guard John Moffitt said following day three of fall camp. "But football is a game of repetition and a game that you constantly have to play. It's a game where you have to constantly do the right things for it to click. Just like any other offense we've got to keep chipping away for things to click."
Ask any pundit around the country or any talking head that knows a bit about Wisconsin football and they'll make certain to mention the strength of this Badger squad begins with the five returning starters up front.
They are big, strong, mean and hungry.
They open holes for one of the best running backs in the Big 10, and nation for that matter, and make him look good. At the same time, the stable of running backs make the offensive line look good when they utilize the hole and pound forward for an extra two or three yards.
There is a mutual admiration, a mutual respect that leads into the success for the front five and back end of the offense.
"We've got that chemistry down that most teams have to build right now," sophomore running back Montee Ball said. "Hopefully we can step past that and work on football. We can do what we do best."
That would be handing the ball off to Clay and company. And doing so a lot.
The trust the backs have in the line, as well as the trust the line has for the backs, will likely produce yet another 1,000 yard rusher. It will likely produce a chance to move the chain and work the time of possession.
That in turn, keeps the ball in the hands of the Badger offense and keeps the other vaunted Big 10 offenses, the Ohio State's and Iowa's of the league, on the sideline.
Most of all, it will provide a blueprint for this Wisconsin squad-a team ripe with expectations-to get where they want to be at the end of the year: Big Ten title contenders.
But those are just the expectations from the outside. The brotherhood and fraternity this offense has on the inside is truly what drives the machine.
"We only focus on the expectations we have on ourselves," Moffitt said. "They are high, but as far as the national attention, you can't really focus on it. We've got to get out here and work just as hard as anybody else and get better."
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