Big Ten: Jake Bscherer

The superlatives series marches on as we take a look at the strongest and weakest positions for the Wisconsin Badgers in 2010.

Wisconsin doesn't lose much at all from its Champs Sports Bowl title team. Defensive end O'Brien Schofield leaves a major void in the pass rush, but the Badgers are well stocked on both sides of the ball. The offense loses only one starter in tight end Garrett Graham.

Strongest position: Offensive line
  • Key returnees: All five starters are back as tackles Gabe Carimi and Josh Oglesby, guards Travis Frederick and Kevin Zeitler, and center John Moffitt all return. Key reserves like Bill Nagy and Peter Konz are also back.
  • Key departures: Tackle Jake Bscherer, who played both tackle and guard in 2009, is transferring.
  • The skinny: At Wisconsin, everything always starts with the offensive line, and this group will be a very good one in 2010. Everyone returns from a unit that helped the Badgers lead the Big Ten in both rushing (203.8) and scoring (31.8 ppg) last fall. Carimi and Moffitt could contend for national honors, and the line will pave the way for Heisman Trophy contender John Clay, the 2009 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. There's not only experience but plenty of depth throughout the group. Running back, wide receiver and linebacker also look strong for the Badgers.
Weakest position: Defensive tackle
  • Key returnees: Junior Patrick Butrym (24 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 1 interception, three passes defended); redshirt freshman Jordan Kohout (heralded recruit, early enrollee)
  • Key departures: Dan Moore (21 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 quarterback hurries); Jeff Stehle (19 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 2 passes defended).
  • The skinny: The Badgers don't have a glaring weakness on their team, although a few spots on defense could use a boost. Despite Schofield's departure, the pass rush should be decent with J.J. Watt, Louis Nzegwu and David Gilbert, but the interior line looks a bit shaky. Wisconsin will lean on Butrym and hope Kohout, who transformed his body as a true freshman, blossoms on the practice field this spring. The Badgers led the Big Ten and ranked fifth nationally against the run in 2009 (88.2 ypg), so solidifying the middle of the line without both Moore and Stehle is key.

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

MADISON, Wis. -- Just got back from watching Wisconsin's practice inside Camp Randall Stadium.

The big news today wasn't good for the Badgers, as starting left tackle Gabe Carimi suffered a right knee injury toward the end of the workout during the two-minute drill. Carimi had to be helped off the field and had his knee heavily wrapped as he was carted to the training room.

Fortunately, the injury doesn't appear to be as serious as originally thought, head coach Bret Bielema said after practice. Bielema expects to have more information Wednesday.

Carimi missed three games last season with a knee injury.

"Gabe's a fast healer," center John Moffitt said. "You look at last year, he had an MCL situation and he was back pretty quick."

Wisconsin can ill afford to lose Carimi, especially with not much depth at tackle. The Badgers are already down two starting linemen, Moffitt and guard Bill Nagy, both of whom are expected back fairly soon.

If Carimi misses any extended period of time, Wisconsin could turn to redshirt freshman Ricky Wagner or move junior left guard Jake Bscherer or right tackle Josh Oglesby to the left side.

(Read full post)

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