MADISON - It only takes one injury, in this case a Peter Konz dislocated ankle, for a reservist to get their opportunity. For Ryan Groy that time is now.
No. 17-ranked Wisconsin has two games left in its regular season. Should it win both games (at Illinois and home against Penn State) it will wind up in the inaugural Big Ten championship game. Those are rather lofty stakes for a player about to make his first start as the key cog of the Badgers offensive line.
When Tuesday's practice concluded, BadgerBlitz.com caught up with the sophomore lineman. The following is a question and answer with Groy.
What's your comfort with Russell Wilson? I'm sure you've done some snaps in practice and stuff, but with games coming up is there anything you'll need to adjust or are you guys on the same page?
Groy: Not really. We've gotten a lot of reps together and we're pretty comfortable. We're probably going to watch a little film together and make sure we're on the same page and everything and make sure we have the same communication, snaps, cadence and stuff like that.
Ryan was there ever a time you were frustrated with the lack of playing time you were getting? Or did you just understand that those guys were pretty set up there?
Groy: I knew coming in that I would have to wait my turn. I did what I could to try to get into the starting lineup. If I couldn't do it then I just had to wait and see what happens. It was too bad that Pete had to go down, but I'm happy to step in and do what I can.
Are you more comfortable at center?
Groy: Yeah, more comfortable at center than I am guard.
Had you played that in high school?
Groy: No, I played all tackle and a little bit of tight end in high school.
So when did you start working center?
Groy: It was spring camp. In the spring I started working center and then I took a lot of reps at center this fall.
So going into these last two games, two games where you guys control your own destiny, it's obviously a couple of pretty big games. Could you ask for a better situation or is it a little bit pressure packed?
Groy: It's a great situation knowing we control our own destiny. I didn't expect it to happen all in one week and I didn't expect the teams that we needed to lose to lose right away and to have it this way the last two games. I'm happy. I'll take it. It's nice to have control of the season.
How hard is it to get the snap down with a quarterback like Russell or is it overblown?
Groy: Oh, we do a lot of center-quarterback exchange during practice and stuff like that. It won't be too rough.
What's tougher? That exchange or when you're in shotgun?
Groy: I wouldn't say it's one more than the other. I would say it's overall communication and cadence and stuff like that. It's just about being on the same page.
How has your confidence in the center position grown for you since you're really started doing it? I remember you said that Bob Bostad said that you should work on this. How has it really helped since that moment when he basically threw you into a new position?
Groy: Quite a bit. Last year I couldn't snap without the ball being on the ground. It was pretty rough. I've gotten a lot of reps this past year and I think over the summer we've gotten a lot of reps and it's really helped. I did a lot with Jon Budmayr and finally with Russell we got a lot together. Obviously in the fall we get a lot.
What do you do that Pete doesn't do as well and what does Pete do that you don't do as well?
Groy: I don't know. I can't say that I've compared us to. I think he's a little more vocal and a little bit more of a leader on the offensive line. I'm a younger guy, but I've got to try to take over that role and do what I can with it.
Does that come with film?
Groy: Absolutely. It comes with film and knowledge and being on the same page as everybody on the offensive line.