Today’s Topic: How Close Is Branden Bowen To Being the Player He Was?
When Branden Bowen won the right guard job as a redshirt sophomore in fall camp prior to the 2017 season, it looked like that position was going to be in good hands for the next three years.
Midway through the season, however, Bowen suffered a broken left leg and missed the rest of the season. Complications from that injury arose during camp in 2018 and he had to have another surgery.
Bowen could have played at the end of the season, but it wasn’t needed.
This spring, Bowen was with the ones throughout camp. At the beginning of camp, he was at right tackle. Later on, he moved to left guard, and also spent some time at left tackle.
He certainly didn’t look like he had missed the last 20 games or so.
“I feel great,” he said this spring. “I feel like the best shape of my life. I’m the strongest I’ve ever been, the fastest I’ve ever been and I’m ready to have a great year.”
Getting back into shape and having the leg be as strong as it needs to be is just one aspect of Bowen’s return. He also has to get over the mental hurdle of trusting that his leg will hold up to the strain.
Everything went great this spring, but offensive line coach Greg Studrawa doesn’t want people to see Bowen’s performance and think it’s been an easy road for the fifth-year senior.
“I think it was extremely hard,” Studrawa said this spring. “I think what people don’t realize is when a kid gets injured like that, the mental aspect is way more than the physical. The physical, we have the best people in the world getting these kids back. But what you can’t ever judge is how he feels.
“When they’re hurt and when they come back, the biggest thing then is getting back into live action and not being worried about hurting again. And that’s all right here. And right now we’re still fighting through those things to get Branden absolutely confident and being back in live action.”
While they are feeling things out physically, they also spent time seeing where Bowen fits best on the offensive line.
Bowen has played both tackle and guard prior to this spring. No matter where they put him during camp, he stepped right in and performed well.
Seeing him running with the ones at multiple positions, it begs the question — is Branden Bowen back to his 2017 form?
“I think we’re as close now as we’ve been,” Studrawa said. “I really see some things. Right now I’ve seen him move, strike, drive his legs like the old Bowen before that injury. So I think he’s getting close. I think now it’s getting the conditioning back in his leg, over and over and over and over, the wear and tear.”