By TOM LEA
MADISON – For one of the biggest players on the entire Wisconsin Badgers roster (6-foot-3, 335 pounds), it’s the little things that are going to help junior defensive tackle Beau Allen wind up as one of the leagues best at his position.
“I just don’t want to waste any reps,” Allen said following a recent practice. “I only have so many practices left and then we’re in game week. I can’t waste time during individual. I can’t have bad steps or bad footwork. That kind of thing really frustrates me.
“I’m kind of on the clock.”
Defensive linemen are often regarded for their ability to create havoc on opposing offenses. Often times, the legitimacy of a given defensive linemen relates entirely to the amount of sacks or tackles-for-loss he generates. Nobody is going to notice a defensive tackle that does everything fundamentally right without producing defensive stats.
Allen, entering his third season as a contributing defensive tackle, knows he needs to produce at a high rate this season if he’s going to emerge as somebody opposing teams are going to key against.
The short, clear path to that type of success has been defined.
“Being really self aware,” he said. “Know what I have to work on and work on it before and after practice. “I’m sure you see us getting out here early. I can list off all the things I can work on and I just try to work on them at all possible times. Mentally, I know the install. I’m not really worried about that.
“I’ve just got to make sure to not waste any reps.”
A wasted rep, as defined by Allen, is one where he feels he didn’t do something to the best of his ability, especially when he knows through past examples he can perform much better with a given strike, step or tackle.
He gets legitimately upset at himself when he watches film — something he does quite frequently — when he sees himself performing at a level not adequate enough for his taste, let alone that of his positional coach Charlie Partridge.
“We want to make big plays,” Allen said. “(But) there’s a lot that goes into making a sack or a tackle-for-loss. You’ve got to step right. You can have a great play and nobody will ever know that it was a great play. Getting sacks and TFL’s are important, but it’s not the end of the world.
“At the end of the day you just want to be good and solid, pushing the line of scrimmage back and holding your gap.”
Allen said he’s spent time watching some of the Big Ten’s best defensive tackles — guys that are currently in the NFL — this past offseason. He’s serious about becoming a good player in the league and he feels that’s the way to go about it.
“I made a cut up of Devon Still and Jerel Worthy,” Allen said. “I really liked Mike Daniels from Iowa. He’s a really good player and I think he’s really underrated. It’s good to watch those guys. Obviously they’ve had success.
“Watch them, study tem and take away what we can from their game.”
That, in turn, will help reach his potential.
“I think I can be really good,” Allen, when asked how good he could be, said. “That’s kind of a tough question to answer. I think I can be really good. I don’t really like to think about that right now.
“I just want to live up to my own potential. I just want to be as good as I can be.”