Wisconsin Football: Injury Report vs. New Mexico Lobos

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 appears to be getting back a couple of key contributors when it takes on the New Mexico Lobos this Saturday.  A great sign, given the looming Big Ten schedule and a potentially improved BYU team ahead.

Last week’s injuries had little impact on the end result.  Wisconsin football was the superior team from start to finish against an over-matched Western Kentucky squad.  As better teams are waiting for their shot against Wisconsin, it is paramount that the Badgers have as many guys ready to go as possible.  Injuries are part of this sport, as the season treks on this list will likely grow.

I could not be happier to see Isaiahh Loudermilk off the injury report.  When the reports first came out that Garrett Rand and Loudermilk suffered injuries during spring camp, it seemed like a doomsday scenario.  The only two returning defensive linemen who had significant experience appeared to be lost for the season.  It turned out that the Badgers would only be losing Rand for the season but Loudermilk still had a lot of work to do to get back on the field.

Predictions for his return ranged from being ready for the opener to returning halfway through the season.  It looks like Loudermilk crushed his rehab and will be ready to go on Saturday and provide depth to the depleted defensive line.

Loudermilk is not the only projected starter to be making a return on Saturday.  Tight end Zander Neuville should be lining up in the Wisconsin offense against the Lobos.  Neuville participated in portions of fall camp, but the coaching staff took their time with his return to the field.  The depth that Wisconsin enjoys at tight end most likely also played a role in easing Neuville back into the lineup.

The return of Neuville will provide Chryst with his best blocking tight end and an underrated receiving threat.  I am sure Jonathan Taylor will be quite happy to see Neuville taking on defenders and leading the way into the holes.

Let’s take a look at who the Badgers will be missing when they take on New Mexico this Saturday.

TE Luke Benzschawel

With the return of Neuville, the loss of Benzschawel for Saturday will not have much of an impact.  When the Badgers have all their tight ends available Benzschawel would probably be their fourth option.  With that being said, Benzschawel had a solid performance against WKU last week.  He cleared the path for many Taylor and Taiwan Deal runs before he was forced to leave the game with his leg injury.

Neuville is definitely an upgrade compared to Benzschawel but with Neuville’s health still an uncertainty, any setback could leave the Badgers with only two dependable tight ends.

DE Kraig Howe

The return of Loudermilk makes this injury less damaging to the depth of the defensive line.  Howe is not a projected 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) alongside Loudermilk has increased with Howe’s injury.  There appears to be no timetable for Howe’s return to the field.

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ILB Mike Maskalunas

Maskalunas makes his first appearance on the injury report this season.  The inside linebacker group is loaded with quality players, but you hate to see a promising guy like Maskalunas suffer an injury.

Maskalunas is in the battle for one of the backup inside linebacker slots alongside Chris Orr.  The versatility that Maskalunas possesses also make him a valuable asset on Wisconsin’s various special teams units.

Redshirt sophomore Griffin Grady will have to step up as the fourth inside linebacker and handle important roles on special teams.  I have confidence that Wisconsin’s linebackers will not miss a beat.

S Reggie Pearson

This injury is even more significant due to the departure of Patrick Johnson.  Pearson is a promising freshman safety who is expected to contribute this year.  He has garnered praise from defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard as a player who pays a lot of attention to the details.

Pearson’s injury leaves Wisconsin with only three players who have played meaningful snaps at the position.  D’Cota Dixon and Scott Nelson will continue to be the starting safeties barring injury, but it leaves Eric Burrell as the only guy who has received significant playing time.

The impact of the injury may not be seen on Saturday, but if the injuries pile up it could be a cause for concern.  Hopefully, Pearson’s injury is just a short-term issue and he can find his way back on to the field soon.

RB Bradrick Shaw

Shaw’s return will have to wait another week.  I think that it is smart that the coaching staff take their time with putting Shaw back into the lineup.  Taiwan Deal is looking like a great compliment to Taylor, and Garrett Groshek and Chris James are quality options on third down and in the passing game.

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Shaw has the ability and physical tools to be an excellent running back at Wisconsin.  However, with the options currently in place and the limitations caused by his injury, Shaw should be given time to rehab and rest up.  The early Big Ten games seem like a realistic projection for Shaw’s return given the circumstances.