By Tom Lea
Defensive line coach, and recently promoted co-defensive coordinator Charlie Partridge, has always enjoyed a stable of defensive tackles. Having depth at the position, particularly in Big Ten play when teams try to pound the ball more consistently, is of the utmost importance.
A year ago, guys like Ethan Hemer and Beau Allen proved capable of providing enough depth so when Jordan Kohout unfortunately suffered an ankle injury midway through the season the defensive line was able to pick up without too many hitches. That depth is a positive.
What's even more encouraging is the fact that Kohout, a former four-star prospect out of high school, is healthy and raring to go entering the 2011 season. Coming off a year where he logged 22 tackles, 1.5 tackles-for-loss and a sack, it seems as though the redshirt sophomore is in line for a breakout year in the middle of his defensive unit.
He has an entire year of playing time under his belt, knows what it takes to play at a high level throughout a given Big Ten season and seems capable of being a leader among his position unit. Most importantly, he has the desire to improve and build upon the successes he had a season ago.
Fans in Madison have been treated to pretty stout defensive line play over the past two seasons. Opposing teams have struggled to establish any sort of consistent rushing threat and the end positions have played exceptionally well. Both O'Brien Schofield and J.J. Watt proved to be effective pass rushers from the outside. This year, unless Louis Nzegwu or David Gilbert step up and take a leap like both Schofield and Watt did, the middle of the line will likely be one of the strengths of the defense.
Having guys like Kohout, Butrym, Hemer and Allen anchoring the middle of the line will likely lead to nothing but good things for UW's defensive line.
UP NEXT: No. 19 on our list is a player that played a little bit of offense and a little bit of defense a season ago. Will he be one of the breakout players on the roster in 2011? Check back Sunday.