Beau Allen showing NFL potential adjusting to 3-4

MADISON, Wis. — Beau Allen stands 6-foot-3, 325 pounds and is considered, even by football standards, to be an exceptionally large human being. This girth has allowed him to excel this season in his role as a nose guard, which will demand he occupy double teams from some of the biggest, baddest offensive linemen in the country.

Because of the position he plays, however, it can sometimes be difficult to measure his impact on the field statistically. When Allen is at his best, he’s clearing out space for his linebackers to clean up in the backfield.

Often, Allen’s reward is the simple satisfaction of knowing he has contributed to a team defensive effort. But recently, Allen has upped the ante by striking a deal with linebacker Chris Borland.

Every time Borland records a tackle for loss because of an Allen double-team, Borland must pay him in candy. More specifically, Trolli Sour Brite Crawler Gummy Eggs.

“It’s a really underrated candy if you want my opinion,” Allen said. “It’s like a hard outer shell with a sour gummy worm inside. It’s a great candy.”

Borland paid up Tuesday night after Allen bulldozed a path for his crucial tackle for loss against Arizona State on Saturday. Borland sacked ASU quarterback Taylor Kelly for a 1-yard loss when the Sun Devils had first-and-goal at Wisconsin’s 6-yard line just before halftime. The Badgers’ defense would go on to hold Arizona State to a field goal and enter halftime clinging to a 14-13 lead.

It proved to be one of several important plays involving Allen, who put together perhaps the finest game of his college career. He finished with four tackles and also recovered a fumble for a touchdown when Arizona State mishandled a punting opportunity.

“Watching film, I think it was one of my best games I’ve had in my time here,” Allen said. “So I was excited about that. Hopefully, I just want to make that the norm. Once you have a good game like that, you set the bar for yourself and to be honest I’d be disappointed if I don’t play that well every week.”

Given his recent performance, Allen likely will be an especially marked man when No. 24 Wisconsin (2-1) plays host to Purdue (1-2) at 2:30 p.m. CT Saturday. At the very least, he has drawn the attention of Boilermakers coach Darrell Hazell.

“He’s very powerful,” Hazell said. “He’s quick off the ball and he’s relentless. We just faced a great nose last week (against Notre Dame). But this guy, his motor is so big. He’s constantly putting pressure on the backfield. We’re going to have to do a good job of blocking this guy. He’s special.”

Allen, a senior, has taken to nose guard in Wisconsin’s new 3-4 scheme quite well after playing defensive tackle in a 4-3 for his entire college career. In a 4-3, Allen was responsible for playing 3-technique, when a tackle’s job is to rush the quarterback through the B gap, splitting the guard and the tackle on his side of the line.

In a 3-4, Allen plays 0-technique, lining up directly over the center. His responsibility is to handle both A gaps around the center and guards while not allowing runners to burst through the middle of the field.

“I kind of like it, actually,” Allen said. “I think at first I was frustrated just because I was unfamiliar with the blocks. When you get so many reps in a 4-3, you get so used to the blocking scheme and you get really accustomed to what o-linemen are going to do.

“I feel like I’m finally starting to get that experience now as a true nose guard. I was frustrated at first, but I kind of really like it. I feel a lot more comfortable.”

One of Allen’s biggest hurdles has simply been to understand his big plays will be limited in this scheme. Through his first two games against UMass and Tennessee Tech — games in which Wisconsin dominated by a combined score of 93-0 — Allen tallied a total of three tackles.

“That was one thing that frustrated me,” he said. “When we played Tennessee Tech, I had like one assisted tackle or whatever and I was like, ‘That’s not fun.’ I wanted to have more. As long as I’m doing my job and I feel like I’m having good footwork and playing with good technique and occupying blockers, I’m totally fine with it. I think it’s been a really good thing for me.”

The more games in which Allen is a defensive presence, the more likely he’ll find his way onto an NFL roster next season. Allen has shown he is capable of excelling in two entirely different defensive schemes, which could appeal to a wider range of pro scouts.

NFLDraftScout.com projects Allen as a seventh-round pick and lists him as the No. 15 defensive tackle. CBSSports.com rates Allen as the No. 20 defensive tackle and also projects him as a seventh-round selection.

Wreaking havoc at the line of scrimmage and scoring a touchdown Saturday certainly didn’t hurt those early ratings.

“If he plays like that, he’s going to have an opportunity to move on and play at the next level, I believe, and it’s important to him, and it is a goal that he set,” Badgers coach Gary Andersen said. “We have talked about it, and I think that tape will help him move in that direction.”

Now that sounds like a sweet deal.

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