September 9, 2010

Oglesby focused on remaining starter

MADISON - Perhaps the most important bit of information that came out of spring camp last April was delivered by head coach Bret Bielema following the spring game.

"Josh Oglesby isn't close to where he needs to be as a right tackle to win in this league with consistency," Bielema said at the time. "I know he's going to take it upon himself."

Fast-forward four months and one game, and it seems the coaching staff is offering a bit less blunt measure of motivation for the junior right tackle. But it is another message nonetheless, this time being done with the help of the depth chart.

Oglesby started all of 2009 at right tackle, but has been joined by Ricky Wagner on the starting line.

"It's called a slash," Oglesby said of him and Wagner being on the same line. "People have been slashed for different reasons. Like I said, I'm just trying to get better everyday."

For Oglesby's sake, he will need to get better in a hurry this week if he's going to fend off the up and coming Wagner. Looking back at Saturday night's win over UNLV, Oglesby drew the ire of his head coach with a procedural penalty and a couple other miscues that looked more fit for spring ball than actual game day situations.

This depth chart maneuver, in turn, is what it takes to fire up the 6-foot-7 gentle giant.

"Coaches have to do certain things," Oglesby said. "There was some pre-snap stuff that we looked at in the game and things I'm trying to correct. Today (Tuesday) was the first day that it was brought to my attention about that. I sat down and had a meeting with coach Bielema and he expressed to me that he thought I was playing better football everyday.

"It's just that we have to clean up the pre-snap stuff."

Wagner, who Oglesby calls a close friend, has been waiting in the wings for an opportunity to get playing time since completely transforming his body from a 260-pound tight end prospect to a 320-pound offensive tackle.

He seems to be more physical at times than Oglesby is and that has helped his stock rise when it comes to the UW depth chart.

Even though he'd never mention that.

"That's not my job to worry about depth charts and stuff," Wagner said earlier this week.

On Tuesday, Wagner did admit to spending some of practice with the No. 1 offense. As of Wednesday, Oglesby returned to the No. 1 unit.

At this juncture, it seems that both players are performing at level similar to one another. It will be interesting to see how reps are distributed during Saturday's game against San Jose State and a lot of that will have to do with the way they each practiced throughout the week.

Relating back to Oglesby, though, a player with the size most offensive tackles can only dream of, he feels the 'slash' has more to do with Wagner playing well than it does him playing poorly.

"I think it puts him in the mindset that he has to be ready to go at any time," Oglesby said. "An injury or bad plays, anything like that, he needs to be ready. He'll approach practice that way that he needs to be ready at any time."

Oglesby, though, understands the coaching staff is trying to light a fire under him. With such a laid back personality it seems Oglesby is too passive at certain times during the course of a game and doesn't have the same mindset as several other linemen do.

And that comes back to haunt him during certain situations. He knows the starting job is something he's going to have to continue to earn.

"Nothing is entitled," Oglesby said. "You have to go out there and prove it everyday that you deserve to have a spot. There is always somebody nipping at your heels."

Nobody is doing any more nipping at the heels than Wagner, who said earning a start on the UW offensive line would be a "great honor." In response, Oglesby said he isn't willing to give up his starting spot.

"I'm going to try not to," Oglesby said. "I'm going to do everything in my power not to give it up because I've worked pretty hard for it."

Something has to give.

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