Lucas at Large: Experience gained and weight lost, Allen carries confidence

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It dawned on Beau Allen that he didn't look like the other defensive tackles on the video. That piqued his curiosity. Why was he different? Allen looked up each of their weights and heights.

"And I realized I was 40 pounds heavier than a lot of these guys,'' he said.

Allen, who lettered as a true freshman, weighed 335 in the Rose Bowl.

Reflecting on the 2010 season, he said, "I didn't think I was super slow or anything like that. But I got pegged as a run-stuffer; kind of a first or second down player but not really a pass rusher.''

There's an old coach's cliché that applies here: the tape doesn't lie.

During the off-season, Allen studied the techniques of other college players at his position.

"I was looking at these other guys,'' he said, "and I realized that I wanted to make myself more of a three-down guy, more of a pass-rusher. I thought it would be better for my endurance.''

In particular, Iowa defensive tackle Mike Daniels, a 275-pound senior, caught his attention.

"I watched some cut-ups on Daniels, who's a beast,'' Allen said. "It's funny because Patrick Butrym met him in Chicago (at the Big Ten media days) and texted how he's a really nice guy.''

On film, Allen said, Daniels was very explosive.

"We'd watch a cut-up of the good plays,'' he said, "and then we'd give a presentation to the rest of the D-line. Why were they good? What carries over to us? How can we emulate that clip?

"I thought it was really good and helpful.''

The film study wasn't limited to college players.

"We were watching a Warren Sapp cut-up,'' Allen said of the former All-Pro defensive tackle from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, "and we were trying to hit this one move that he's really good at.''

Allen is no sap. That's why in late January, he decided it was time to do something about his weight; it was time to reshape his body; especially since he was up to 341.

"It was nothing really prescribed by the coaches,'' he said. "It was mostly me wanting to change my lifestyle and get healthier -- along with getting smaller.

"I definitely had to change the way I ate. I was eating a lot of big meals infrequently and it's better to eat small meals frequently. It's more about when you eat certain foods than anything else.''

As a freshman, Allen ate dorm food when he wasn't at the post-practice training table.

"One thing I had to do this summer,'' he said, "was learn how to cook.''

Just before the start of the UW's summer conditioning program, Allen went grocery shopping with his mom, who had driven him back to Madison from their home in Minnetonka, Minn.

"I'm picking out all the good food that I think I need,'' he said, "and I round the corner of an aisle in the store and I see Coach Herb (Ben Herbert) in the meat section.

"It was a random encounter but it turned out perfect for me because he helped me pick out everything I needed and it lasted me the summer.''

Herbert, UW's strength and conditioning coordinator, knows the value of nutrition.

"He also understands we're college kids and we don't have a million bucks,'' Allen said.

Grocery bills can add up; particularly for offensive and defensive linemen.

"It's pretty expensive to live in Madison; the rent is high,'' said Allen, making his own pitch for scholarships to include full cost of attendance. "Plus, I've got to maintain my weight. I eat a lot.''

Allen has been eating a lot better, too. So much so that he reported to camp at 314 pounds.

Herbert showed him "before'' and "after'' upper body photos as positive reinforcement.

Seeing what he looked like when he was 341, Allen said, "I was a little ashamed, to be honest.''

Upon further review of the "after'' shot, he added, "It was cool and exciting. It's nice to know that you can change your body like that. It's an accomplishment that makes you feel good.''

How good?

"My pass rush has gotten better and so has my endurance,'' he said. "I definitely feel the difference on the field during one-on-ones and I feel better throughout practice.

"I feel like I have better quickness and a little more explosiveness.''

Going into his second college training camp, Allen just feels different all the way around.

"It's easier knowing what's expected of you -- knowing the drills and the progression of practice,'' he said. "But it's a little more taxing just because you're not a freshman anymore.

"As a sophomore who played as a true freshman, I have expectations for myself. I know what I'm capable of, I guess; and I hold myself to a high standard and I'm trying to live up to that.''

A year ago, he thought that he had the answers.

"But I had no idea,'' he said.

This year, he can point to what he gained (experience) and lost (27 pounds).

"Things have really paid off,'' Allen said.

ON WISCONSIN