Bret Bielema has seen enough. After Wisconsin’s running game managed just 35 yards on 23 carries against Oregon State, he has parted ways with offensive line coach Mike Markuson. Markuson, a long-time assistant under Houston Nutt at Arkansas and Ole Miss, was well-regarded for his offensive line work and had coached six All-Americans since 2003.
According to Junior center Travis Frederick, the transition was moving slowly.
“If you think about it, maybe this is (like) two weeks into spring ball. Two weeks into spring ball we weren’t where we needed to be and I think that might be where we are now.
“We need to accelerate that process.”
Wisconsin has the fewest returning starters in the Big Ten. Among the departures were three NFL-bound offensive linemen. Adding to that is substantial assistant turnover. The prominent departure was offensive coordinator Paul Chryst leaving for Pittsburgh. The under-the-radar name was offensive line coach Bob Bostad, who accepted the Pitt offensive coordinator job, before winding up with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Badgers, despite the shuffling, looked like they had a locked down trip to the Big Ten Title game with a soft schedule and Ohio State and Penn State ineligible in the Leaders. That schedule suddenly looks far more imposing, beginning with a spunky Utah State team coming into Madison next weekend. Wisconsin has looked more than a tier below opponents Michigan State and Ohio State. They play Nebraska and Purdue on the road. Among the Big Ten favorites entering the season, the Badgers could struggle reaching a bowl game, if they don’t right things soon.
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