Wisconsin Football: Injury Report vs. Western Kentucky

MADISON, WI - SEPTEMBER 30: Isaiahh Loudermilk (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MADISON, WI - SEPTEMBER 30: Isaiahh Loudermilk (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

Wisconsin football boasts a talented and deep roster but will be missing a few injured players for the opener.

The 2018 Wisconsin football season starts this Friday as the Badgers will face the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers under the lights of Camp Randall.

By now all Wisconsin fans are aware of the Quintez Cephus and Danny Davis suspensions.  Those are two quality players that the Badgers will have to move on without for the immediate future.

Besides the suspensions, the Badgers do have injuries at some key positions.  Wisconsin released their injury report for the WKU game on Sunday, which contained some names familiar to Badger fans.  Let’s take a look at who will be missing this Friday night for the Wisconsin Badgers.

TE Zander Neuville

Early on in camp, it seemed that Neuville was on track to be ready for the season opener.  An apparent hamstring injury slowed down the senior’s comeback from an ACL injury against Minnesota last year.  The dog days of camp are hard on healthy players, let alone someone rehabbing a serious knee injury.  I believe this is more of a precautionary move from Wisconsin’s training staff given the opponent.  I would not be surprised to see Neuville back in the lineup as early as next week.

With Neuville out, Kyle Penniston will be the no. 1 option at tight end.  Penniston improved as a blocker as the season went on and has great potential in the passing game.  Luke Benzschawel could be utilized in the running game as a solid blocker.  The talk of spring camp Jake Ferguson will be thrown into the fire right away.  Badger fans are more than excited to see the talented Ferguson flash his playmaking ability.  I expect Ferguson to get plenty of opportunities this Friday.

RB Bradrick Shaw

It seemed like a long shot for Shaw to be ready for Week 1.  Running Backs coach John Settle told reporters that he hopes Shaw will be ready once conference play gets underway.  Like Neuville, Shaw is rehabbing a knee injury that he suffered in the regular season finale last year.  With many options at running back, I expect the coaching staff to be very careful with Shaw’s workload when he returns.

More from Badger of Honor

Wisconsin has quality backs in Chris James, Garrett Groshek, and Taiwan Deal.  Deal has been running hard in camp and seems motivated to be a factor in his senior season.  I think Deal is primed to have an impressive season complimenting Taylor with his bruising running style.  James will be utilized on third down as a receiving threat and shifty runner.  Groshek is Mr. Reliable and has the tools to be effective in every aspect of the Wisconsin Badgers offense.

DE Isaiahh Loudermilk

Loudermilk was another player who was not expected to play against WKU.  His progress has been closely monitored given the depth along the defensive line.  Loudermilk looks to be a star in the making for the Wisconsin Badgers.  The return of Loudermilk is essential to Wisconsin’s success within the trenches, especially against Big Ten opponents.  His return will be needed when the Badgers travel to Iowa City for the fourth game of the season.

Kayden Lyles and Matt Henningsen have been listed as the starters at defensive end for the opener.  Both players showed steady improvement throughout camp and look ready to contribute this season.  The two redshirt freshman will see their first game action as college players.  I guess there is no better place to do it than under the lights of Camp Randall.  I am curious to see how much Leonhard uses Aaron Vopal and how often players will be rotated at the position.

S Patrick Johnson

Missing Johnson will be a blow to the depth of the safety position.  Johnson’s head injury was not present when practices were still open to the media.  Despite being behind Scott Nelson, Johnson has the intangibles to make an impact on defense and special teams.  He impressed the coaching staff during both spring and fall camp.  There is no timetable for Johnson’s return at this time.

With Johnson’s absence, we are a full go for the introduction of Scott Nelson.  I believe he is going to be an absolute stud for the Wisconsin defense for years to come.  I am sure he will not be flawless Friday night, but I am certain he will make some plays that will catch the eyes of Badger fans.

Eric Burrell and true freshman Reggie Pearson will be the backups for Dixon and Nelson.  Burrell did play some last year on defense and has been a great contributor for the special teams unit.

DE Kraig Howe

Howe’s injury was not known before the release of the injury report.  An apparent leg injury to the redshirt junior will leave the Badgers without another body along the defensive line.  Howe was not projected to be a starter this season, but his absence could still have an impact.  Leonhard has confidence in the guys at the position, but any additional injuries will have the coaches scrambling for solutions.  The pressure for Lyles, Henningsen, and Vopal to perform (and stay healthy) has increased with Howe’s injury.

Next. Ten reasons Wisconsin Football is overlooked. dark

A lot could happen between now and kick-off, but these appear to be the players not playing Friday night.  I can not wait to see the Wisconsin Badgers take the field.