Senior Writer

MADISON, Wis. – Towards the end of the two-hour practice, they clashed. Pass rusher versus pass blocker. Nick Herbig versus. jack nelson. Keeanu Benton versus. Joe Tipman. And so on – along the line of scrimmage. They had learned the same techniques and fundamentals at the start of the workday.

Now they were fighting through fatigue.

“I was definitely tired,” admitted Tippmann. “But you have to play through it.

“You never know when you’re going to have a game like Illinois last year.”

In this context, the individual exercise reproduced what was needed to get through a fourth trimester. Or a long drive. Tippmann recalled that it was pretty warm last October in Illinois — the temperature was in the mid to high 80s — and the Badgers had three sets of 18 plays/67 yards, 14/79 and 13/75.

“Coach Bo is working hard on us throughout practice,” Tippmann said of the offensive line coach. Bob Bostad, who took over the position group after spending the last five seasons with inside linebackers. “He sets us up for when we’re in a game scenario, we’ll actually be less tired.

“I think he is doing a tremendous job preparing us for this.”

Whether at the start or the end of practice, Bostad didn’t place much importance on timing. Or when a certain exercise was conducted and how it was performed by individuals. “It’s great,” admitted Bostad, “when you get to the end of the day and the guys feel it and they have to step up.”

That Tippmann often faces Benton is an advantage for both players. And their respective units. Last year, Benton was named to the All-Big Ten second team (coaches) while Tippmann received honorable mention (coaches and media). Both are Al-American candidates in 2022.

“Any representative against Keeanu Benton is good for us,” Bostad said. “Good for everyone.

Totally agree, Tippmann said: “We talk about it every day. He always makes me work harder. Even last season there wasn’t a tackle in the Big Ten that I faced against. who was better than Keeanu. It’s great to know that I get this great job every day.”

Tippmann recently received additional national recognition on Bruce Feldman’s annual list of college football “Freaks” in The Athletic, a ranking list touting athletes’ physical oddity from one to 100. The group of selection includes players, coaches, NFL scouts, school contacts. .

The Badgers had two players in the Top 30. At No. 18, the tailback Braelon Allen (406 power-clean, 610 back squat, 365 bench, 1.49 10-yard split); at No. 28, Tippmann (635 back squat, 455 bench, 1.65 split for 10 yards “that would have been faster than any O lineman in the NFL combine this year”).

The UW defensive tackle was also ranked Isaiah Mullens at No. 53 (375 power-clean, 741 back-squat, 435 bench, 4.32 agility, 30.5 vertical inches) and punter Andy Vujnovich at No. 80 (“faster pro agility time than most top defensive backs”). Vujnovich was a “Repeat Freak”. He was No. 87 in 2021.

Tippmann has reached PR in every lift this summer. He exceeded his best on the bench by 25. How does that translate on the pitch? “It definitely brings more confidence,” he said. “Especially knowing that I’m the guy with the strongest bench on the team and I should be able to move that guy (lineman D).”

Starting 10 games in 2021, Tippmann had the third most snaps (706) on the offensive line behind Tyler Beach (788) and Nelson (730). But he missed the bowl win over Arizona State and all spring training as he recovered from labrum surgery. In fact, he had surgery on both shoulders.

“I have to get back on my feet…I’m doing it slowly,” Tippmann said of his personal schedule preparing for the September 3 opener. “There are definitely some things I need to work on. The first thing is just to be honest with myself. I know I have to get there and I’m not there yet.”

Bostad appreciates such frankness from Tippmann, “I think he would admit he’s a bit rusty right now and he’s getting it back. Mentally he’s pretty good. He’s in a good place. There’s just a lot to learn. It’s brand new to him, he could have seen it, heard it and attended meetings.

“But doing it is a different thing. That’s where he is. But he’s getting better every day.”

No coach is going to manage and educate their positional squad the same way, a reality that Tippmann and his teammates have embraced during the transition to Bostad. “It’s definitely a little bit different,” Tippmann acknowledged. “But from a playbook perspective, I get it.”

After recent practice, Bostad spoke at length about Tippmann’s development.

“I know I’ve said this before, but he just has outstanding physical traits that you really enjoy working with,” he said. “He’s got a good size, good strength, good length. He’s smart. He’s tough. That’s a really good starting point. He’s got experience…he talks, he communicates and he’s inside.”

Bostad secures the latter. “At meetings, he sits right next to me, and we walk through him. You have to, don’t you? … (because) I’m not with them in the field,” a- he pointed out. “They have to take the calls, they have to know the rules (as they apply to O-line techniques), they have to target us.”

At Bishop Dwenger High School (Fort Wayne, Ind.), Tippmann was known as a strong team leader. And it’s no different here. “To be a good leader, you have to do it first,” Tippmann said. “I would never ask someone to do something that I wouldn’t do. Leading by example is huge.”

During training camp, the Badgers lined up with Nelson, Beach, Tippmann, Michael Furtney and Logan Brown on the line O. Tippmann noted de Beach, the left guard; and Furtney, the good guard, “I can say with certainty that they improved in the spring.” The competition was fierce.

Starting with Tanor Bortoliniwho is versatile enough to play guard, center or tackle, Bostad has developed some depth with Bortolini, Riley Mahlman, Nolan Rucci, Trey Wedig, JP Benzschawel, Dylan Barretteand freshmen Joe Brunner and Nelson Hair Clipamong other things pushing for reps.

“It’s an awesome (meeting) room, super tight bunch of guys,” said Tippmann, a 6-foot-6, 317-pound junior. “We all trust each other and we can also be honest with each other. That’s important. If one of us isn’t playing up to his potential, we can talk to him, ‘Hey, you got it. gotta work on it…”

“These guys did the same for me.”

Just like Benton in those mano-to-mano matches, Badger to Badger.

“It’s a great measuring stick,” Bostad said. For anyone.