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Can Wisconsin Football Overcome Recent Offensive Line Issues?

Wisconsin Badgers football needs improved offensive line play. Can they fix it this season?



Wisconsin Badgers football left tackle Jack Nelson
Sep 16, 2023; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers offensive lineman Jack Nelson (79) blocks Georgia Southern Eagles defensive lineman Da'Shawn Davis (90) during the fourth quarter at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Madison, Wis. – Throughout the 2023 season thus far, the Wisconsin Badgers football team has created more questions surrounding them than they have answered.

When Wisconsin football hired their new-look staff, many Badgers’ fans expected an instant change. Fans wanted high-scoring games and dominant wins, which the Badgers are still working towards. Wisconsin and Head Coach Luke Fickell are developing a culture while winning football games. However, there has been one issue on the field that could impair the ability to do so.

Wisconsin Badgers Continue to Win Despite Struggles Along Offensive Line

When college football fans stop and think about the Wisconsin Badgers, three big things come to mind. Exceptional running backs, excellent lineman, and of course, the legend J.J. Watt. Already this season, Wisconsin has had plenty of Watt appearances and great performances by their running backs. However, the play of the offensive line has been a different story thus far.

Coming into this season, the offensive line was a major talking point after starting center Joe Tippmann left for the NFL Draft. Tippmann served as the cog in the middle for the offensive line a year ago, and since his departure the team has struggled to regain their form. For Wisconsin football, their issues on the offensive line begin in the middle, where the void has been left.

Replacing a player as dominant and consistent as Tippmann was is no easy task. Unfortunately for Tanor Bortolini, he has been tasked with doing so. Bortolini, who was originally recruited to play center for the Badgers, has taken snaps at every position along the line besides left tackle. Bortolini is a versatile lineman with plenty of experience, but the 2023 season has proven to be a difficult one.

Who Is to Blame for the Offensive Line Play Thus Far?

Thus far this season, Tanor Bortolini currently has a run-blocking grade of 60.5 and a pass-blocking grade of 76.6. The Redshirt Junior has not allowed a sack this season, but is responsible for two hits, four hurries, and six pressures.

However, for Wisconsin football, the issue is not just the play from their center. While Bortolini has struggled at times, he has still had a rather productive season five games in.

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Jarrett Guerrera is a graduate of Western New England University with a Bachelor's in English. Jarrett played rugby at the collegiate level, and has been a sports fanatic all his life. Jarrett is also a contributor for Wisconsin Sports Heroics.