Big boys from Oz give UW some heft

Freshman Tyler Beach of Port takes the field for Wisconsin while Beau Benzschawel of Grafton starts his senior year on the Badgers’ offensive line

PORT WASHINGTON HIGH SCHOOL alumnus Tyler Beach (above) saw his first action as left tackle late in the University of Wisconsin’s 45-14 victory over New Mexico on Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison. Photos by Mitch Maersch
By 
MITCH MAERSCH
Ozaukee Press staff

Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison wasn’t his first rodeo. But it was for Port Washington alumnus Tyler Beach.

The two monstrous offensive linemen helped the Wisconsin Badgers to a 45-14 drubbing of New Mexico.

After a slow start — Wisconsin was up 10-7 at halftime — the Badgers turned it on.

Benzschawel (6 feet, 6 inches tall, 315 pounds), an All-American right guard on what has been widely regarded as the best offensive line in the country — he’s even got a Wikipedia page (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beau_Benzschawel) — helped open holes for Heisman Trophy hopeful Jonathan Taylor to the tune of a career-high 253 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 33 carries.

Benzschawel said some halftime adjustments helped counter the twist the Lobos put on their defense.

Blocking for backs like Taylor, he said, “definitely make you look a lot better. Those guys can really help you out, no matter what it is. You can be off on a block and those guys can make it right.”

But it’s not often the Badgers miss blocks. On Saturday, the Badgers racked up more than 400 yards rushing, and allowed only one sack as quarterback Alex Hornibrook went 8-for-11 passing for 148 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

The camaraderie of an offensive line — a few members have been in the trenches together for five years — helps make the Badgers’ offense go.

“We definitely know how each other play and how we can help each other out,” Benzschawel said.

Beach, most recruited offensive lineman in the state two years ago, was a redshirt freshman last year. Saturday was his first game action as a left tackle in college.

“It was pretty surreal, actually, just to go in. You never really know if you’re going to be able to get in at the end. I thought it was pretty cool coach let the guys get in,” he said.

The game was in hand at that point, but that didn’t mean Beach didn’t have butterflies.

“Just being able to play in that atmosphere was super incredible. I was super nervous that first play,” he said. “After the first one, everything is kind of relaxed and you get into your zone.”

Beach (6-6, 311) helped the team downfield under the guidance of backup quarterback Danny Vanden Boom, another in-state star, a 2017 graduate of Kimberly. Vanden Boom connected on his only pass for a 3-yard touchdown to Taj Mustapha.

“It was awesome, especially with Danny Vanden Boom throwing the pass,” Beach said. Many of those guys on that drive were on the scout team, he said.

Beach is a starter on special teams. He’s one of the anchors on the left side on field goals and extra points. He usually tries to hold off two rushers with one arm each and sometimes gets shoved backward.

“That’s what you want to do is fall back with the guy,” he said. “Fire both legs out, keep your head up and take the guys on.”

He doesn’t always know what to expect in blocking on kicks.

“Sometimes teams will try really hard, sometimes they won’t. Sometimes they’ll target a specific side,” he said.

On Saturday, the Lobos had Beach’s side in their sights. Three guys charged off the line, but Beach held up and the Badgers’ six extra points and one field goal were all successful.

While Beach said it was “pretty freakin’ awesome just to be out there,” it was old hat for Benzschawel. The enormous crowd and wild, crazy and fun atmosphere of Badgers’ football games is not new. But he always appreciates the support.

“Obviously, we have a great home crowd and the great State of Wisconsin behind us. It definitely helps us when we’re playing there,” he said.

With only a handful of home games left, Benzschawel said it hadn’t sunk in during camp that this is his final season as a Badger, but it since has.

“I’m making sure I leave it all out there and don’t regret anything at this point,” he said.

The Badgers next host non-conference opponent BYU at 2:30 p.m.

Luke Benzschawel, Beau’s younger brother and sophomore tight end, will miss his second straight game with a leg injury.

Their father Scott played for Wisconsin from 1983 to 1987 and their uncle Eric played from 1988 to 1992.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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