Join the Badger conversation on Facebook! Go to our Facebook page and "like" us!
For more Badger sports news, notes and discussion, especially on game day, follow Badger Nation on Twitter @TheBadgerNation
MADISON - Being named a starter on the defensive line is just a title, especially considering Wisconsin likes to rotate guys throughout the game to keep everyone fresh. For junior defensive tackle Beau Allen, being named a starter prior to No.12 Wisconsin season was just another step in his journey.
“It’s definitely something I have been looking forward to, getting my first start,” said Allen, who has played in all 28 games in his three years. “I’ve played in a lot of games, but haven’t started any yet, so it was a fun first. It was an exciting thing for me.”
In the Badgers’ 26-21 home victory over Northern Iowa to open the season, Allen helped set the tempo the defense line wants to set, registering three tackles, one tackle for loss and one of seven pass breakups Wisconsin’s defense registered against the Panthers.
“We got a lot of pressure on the QB, but there always could be more,” said Allen, as Northern Iowa managed only 41 rushing yards. “We had some (more) plays we could have made. It was a good wake-up call for us. We know we can play better.”
Allen, along with fellow junior defensive tackle Ethan Hemer, will be leaned on even more than last year considering Wisconsin’s depth at the position took an offseason hit. Right before the start of training camp, Wisconsin announced that Jordan Kohout was quitting football because of reoccurring migraines.
That decision took an experience piece out of the mix, leaving Hemer and Allen as the only two players who have played games at the position.
Listed at 6-3 and 335 pounds, Allen has added 25 pounds between his sophomore and junior season, but lowered his body fat percentage. He’s also grown his blonde hair out and manicured a thin mustache. The result of those choices has turned Allen into a scary-looking animal who is more agile and nimble than ever before.
“I figured since Jordan wasn’t coming back that I would be getting a lot more snaps, so I conditioned myself with that mentality,” said Allen, who made 22 tackles and four sacks last season. “I think are whole defensive line had a really good summer. We’re all in shape. This is the best shape I’ve been in since I have been here.”
Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said that Allen made the biggest jump during spring practice among all his defensive linemen in the pass-rushing category. Because of Allen’s physically stature, he is one of just nine players on the roster not to have taken a redshirt season.
Now with his first start, Allen continues to add to another already impressive chapter by his family at the university. Allen's grandfather, Fred Westphal, was a six-time all-American as a member of the Wisconsin swimming team from 1956-59 and a charter inductee into the school's Athletic Hall of Fame. Allen's uncle, John Westphal, was a two-year letterwinner in football at Wisconsin from 1980-81.
“I had a lot of family from Janesville that were all up here, so we’re going to go tailgate,” said Allen.
He also has several cousins that currently attend Wisconsin, which lead to weekly card games and plenty of family support to help him keep pushing himself.
“When you are a freshman and sophomore, you feel like you have all the time in the world,” said Allen. “I am still young and an underclassman. Now you realize you are on the back half of your career. You have to have a different approach to things. You can’t make the same mistakes you used to make and hold yourself accountable to play like an upperclassman should.”
Being involved on a defense that finished last season ranked 15th in the country in total defense, Allen and his teammates want more: creating turnovers, limiting mistakes, forcing turnovers and becoming the program’s calling card. After one game, Allen and Badgers know they have the formula to reach a higher level.
“I have different expectations of myself as a starter in my third year than when I first started,” said Allen. “I have got higher standards for myself.”