Football: Benzschawel taking advantage of starting role

first_imgWell after the Wisconsin football team’s practice ended Tuesday, Beau Benzschawel wanted to work more.While waiting to be interviewed by a gaggle of reporters, he sought out fifth-year senior Tyler Marz. Marz and Benzschawel, just a redshirt freshman, command the tackle positions for the Badgers’ battered and bruised offensive line.Today’s lesson from the eldest member of the unit to one of its freshest members revolved around handling a twist stunt from defenders.It’s one of many ways Benzschawel has prepared himself for the starting right tackle job, which he assumed before the Nebraska game last Saturday. Lincoln was quite the experience for someone’s first college game, he said.“Being in an environment like Nebraska, with all their fans yelling the whole time, it was a cool feeling for sure,” Benzschawel said.The right tackle spot for Wisconsin this season can be equated with the Defense Against the Dark Arts position at Hogwarts: No one seems to hang on to it.Injuries to redshirt freshman Hayden Biegel and Jacob Maxwell opened the door for Benzschawel last week.Benzschawel was in position to earn the starting job to begin the season, but a knee injury sidelined him during training camp. It was a long road back, but the recovery process made him a better player. UW’s Strength and Conditioning team worked hard with Benzschawel to improve his upper-body strength.“I made some really big gains in the weight room upper-body wise,” Benzschawel said. “I think it just really helped me to come back out here and feel more comfortable being able to toss dudes around a little more.”As for his performance Saturday, Benzschawel said he was happy he didn’t allow a sack, but added there’s always room for improvement.UW offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph said Benzschawel’s play Saturday gave the offense a physical element.“He battled his tail off. He’d be the first to tell you he wasn’t perfect on every [play], but the things are correctable; we’ll correct,” Rudolph said. “There’s some technique stuff that we’ll clean up, but the fight, the physical nature — love that.”A 6-foot-6, 308-pounder from Grafton, Wisconsin, Benzschawel is just the latest member of UW’s offensive line to step up when his number was called.“I think everyone expects that. Injuries are a part of football,” Benzschawel said. “You always just gotta be ready, paying attention in meetings, watching other guys’ reps and making sure you’re ready.”last_img read more

USC’s best teams are still under the radar

first_imgWater polo is a sport I had never watched until last August. Lacrosse is something I had never seen in person until March. These two teams are currently dominating the nation. USC’s women’s water polo and women’s lacrosse team are a combined 35-0 this year.Despite their success, these sports are flying under the radar. Their success comes during a school year in which the football team had another tumultuous year that ended with mixed emotions — the hiring of head coach Clay Helton to go along with a great victory over UCLA that won the Pac-12 South for the Trojans before falling in the championship game to an underrated Stanford team and a season-ending loss in the Holiday Bowl.USC basketball was relevant for the first time in ages, winning 21 games, beating UCLA three times and earning a spot to the NCAA tournament where they lost in the first round.Those will be the storylines from this year that will be remembered even though there are other athletes who are equally deserving of attention and praise, if not more so given their record of success.Fans should be watching these teams compete. I am one of the fans to blame as well. As previously mentioned, I hadn’t watched either sport until this year, but I can assure you, even someone who knows nothing of either sport will be entertained.The competitive spirit and drive to greatness of these athletes is something to behold, and to have two programs dominating the competition at the same time is incredible.Women’s water polo is No. 1 in the country and has been for several weeks. Women’s lacrosse has been steadily climbing up the rankings and has now broken into the top five.The sports should be celebrated regardless of the outcome of the rest of their season as we celebrated a football and basketball team who had less dominating regular seasons and subpar postseasons. The lacrosse and water polo teams have the opportunity to do something special and cap potentially undefeated seasons with conference and national titles.Should the water polo team put themselves in a position to end an undefeated season with a national championship, it would be the fourth for the team under the guidance of head coach Jovan Vavic who has also led the men’s team to nine national titles. Entering this season, the water polo team has played in the NCAA tournament 12 straight seasons and finished in third for the second straight year. Prior to that in 2013, the Women of Troy won it all.The success of this program is well documented and should not come as a surprise to anyone, but this season has the potential to be one for the record books should the team finish their regular season on Friday without losing a game all year. The team is currently 20-0 and a win against Cal on Friday would put them at 21 wins — the same number as the men’s basketball team put up. The NCAA tournament is approaching soon after in May.For the lacrosse team — a program in just its fourth year since its inception — the road to success is much shorter. After making their first NCAA tournament appearance last year and losing to perennial powerhouse Duke, the Women of Troy came back with a vengeance this season that has included avenging their previous loss to the Blue Devils.As the Women of Troy have blazed through MPSF play, consistently putting up double-digit scores, critics could have said that the competition was below them and they should have been beating these teams. The Trojans 14th and 15th wins of the year came recently against the No. 12 and No. 6 team in the country.The lacrosse team has similarly not dropped a game this season and is poised to have a legitimate shot at taking home a national title.The harsh reality of the situation is however, if these teams fail to win it all, their masterful seasons will most likely be forgotten. Even if they do win the national title, there won’t be nearly the celebration that would have occurred had the football or basketball team gotten just as close.Part of the reason is the school calendar in saying that the tournaments for lacrosse and water polo are just not as convenient for students to keep up with as March Madness or the College Football Playoff, and while that is certainly true to an extent, the fact of the matter is that the sports are just not as popular.While they deserve credit and accolades to be poured upon them, there isn’t the same buzz surrounding these programs as there should be. It remains to be seen what the final storyline will be for these programs, but surely a dedicated slice of students will be paying attention regardless of what happens.As Trojans, aren’t we all in the pursuit of perfection? We should be celebrating the athletes that have come the closest to achieving it.Hailey Tucker is a sophomore majoring in broadcast and digital journalism. She is also the sports editor of the Daily Trojan. Her column, “Tucker Talks,” runs every other Wednesday.last_img read more