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January 11, 2014

Report Card: Defensive Line





Wisconsin's 2013 football season is in the books, so it's time to pass out our position grades after the Badgers finished the year 9-4 with a 34-24 loss to South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl.

It's on to the defensive line today after we gave the offensive line good marks in T.J. Woods' first season running the show. Out grades for Beau Allen, Pat Muldoon, Ethan Hemer and the rest are included below, and you can find links to the rest of the offensive position groups at the bottom of the page.

John Veldhuis: The Badgers were very lucky that their switch to a 3-4 defense came when they had four veterans on the defensive line. Allen, Muldoon, Hemer and Tyler Dippel needed to adjust to a new role in the defense, but they still managed to cause some havoc- which is just gravy out of a 3-4 defensive line.

Wisconsin's four "starters" combined for just 3.5 sacks this year, but Dave Aranda's scheme calls for the linemen to crowd the point of attack and keep their linebackers clean of blocks. In that sense they did their job, and they did it well. Their pre-snap shifts also caused more than a few false starts on opposing offensive lines, which is just as good as a tackle for loss or a sack.

Muldoon finished the year as my most-underrated player, and the Badgers will have a hard time replacing him and the other seniors next year. But Aranda and Chad Kauha'aha'a can worry about that later- their defensive line did exactly what they needed it to do in their first year on campus.

Grade: A

Jon McNamara: Wisconsin's defense switched from a 4-3 to 3-4 scheme under Dave Aranda in 2013. That brought big changes to the defensive line, but seniors Pat Muldoon, Tyler Dippel, Beau Allen and Ethan Hemer made for a smooth transition. The unit was great against the run, finishing second in Big Ten behind Ohio State with 102.5 yards allowed per game. But the same group finished just sixth in the conference with 26 sacks this fall. As a whole, the Badgers didn't pressure the quarterback enough in their four loses this season. Konrad Zagzebski and Warren Herring, both of whom were key contributors in 2013, are expected to be the leaders of next year's unit.

Grade: B+

Jon Gorman: The defensive line had ups and downs over the course of the season. While Pat Muldoon, Warren Herring and Beau Allen seemingly took steps forward in the new 3-4 scheme, Ethan Hemer was average, and no player developed into a true pass rushing force. All three starters are graduating, and look for James Adeyanju, Warren Herring and Konrad Zagzebski to take their place. Look for this group to try to cause more havoc for opposing offensive lines while still maintaining their gap discipline.

Grade: B+

Zack Miller: Anytime there is a momentous change in a team's defensive scheme there are bound to be some bumps and bruises along the way. Fortunately, the Badgers had guys like Pat Muldoon, Tyler Dippel, Ethan Hanner and Beau Allen who were there to help make the transition smoother than a majority of fans thought going into the season. Warren Herring and James Adeyanju are the two names from this group to look for when spring ball comes around in the next few of months as those two impressed me the most from the line last spring. As Jon (McNamara) mentioned, the pass rush for the Badgers - and their 26 sacks this past season - seemed to be outmatched in multiple games, including the Capital One Bowl versus South Carolina, and that is something that Dave Aranda and his staff will be sure to address as the offseason progresses.

Grade: B

Previous installments:

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Offensive Line

For more Wisconsin Badgers news, notes and discussion, follow John on Twitter.


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