Injury report for Wisconsin Football vs. South Florida

Wisconsin Football kicks off the 2019 season in Tampa against the South Florida Bulls on Friday evening. Which players on each squad are nursing injuries?

While the injuries are bound to begin mounting up as the season progresses, Wisconsin appears set to get the season underway against South Florida in excellent health, with a glaring exception at one position. The same can be said of the Bulls, who will be looking to take down their first ranked opponent since 2016 when the Badgers come to town Friday. However, they will have to accomplish that feat without one of their senior leaders and best players on defense who has been bitten by the injury bug.

With that being said, let’s take a look at this week’s injury report for both squads.

As a reminder, the following  players will be sidelined for the entirety of the season for the Badgers: 

  • Cade Green – Wide Receiver
  • Gabe Lloyd – Tight End
  • Josh Bernhagen – Long Snapper

Wisconsin

OUT

  • Luke Benzschawel – Tight End 
  • Clay Cundiff – Tight End
  • Hayden Rucci – Tight End 

It’s safe to say that this is not the tight end group that Paul Chryst envisioned having at his disposal come the season opener, and the injuries just keep piling up at one of the most critical positions in Wisconsin’s offense.

While Badger fans should count their lucky stars that the best player of the bunch, Jake Ferguson, is set to play on Friday despite recently suffering a thumb injury that required surgery, the lack of depth behind him is cause for major concern. Luke Benzschawel was expected to be the No. 2 tight end and the primary blocker at the position heading into the season, but he has been sidelined ever since going down with an ugly leg injury during practice earlier in fall camp. Given how bad it looked, some fans have been speculating that we may not even see him return this season, so I guess it is good news that he wasn’t listed as out for the year on this week’s preliminary injury report. However, the smart money is still on Benzschawel being unavailable for a while.

Additionally, true freshmen Clay Cundiff and Hayden Rucci have also been hampered by injuries throughout recent practices, and offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph has confirmed that neither will play this week.

As a result, the only other true tight end that Badger fans should expect to see against the Bulls is the walk-on redshirt freshman Jack Eschenbach, who is listed as Ferguson’s No. 2 on this week’s depth chart. For blocking purposes, we will probably see David Moorman or perhaps another reserve offensive lineman come onto the field in the Jumbo package.

Eschenbach has a bright future here, but he certainly was not being counted on to play major snaps this season prior to this onslaught of injuries. Should anything happen to Ferguson, we are talking a doomsday scenario at tight end. Wisconsin can’t get Zander Neuville back soon enough. Luckily, it sounds like he could finally be cleared to practice at some point this week, though who knows when he will be game-ready.

South Florida

OUT

  • Nico Sawtelle – Linebacker

Head coach Charlie Strong dropped the news Monday at a press conference that his stud middle linebacker, Nico Sawtelle, will be sitting out Friday’s contest after suffering a neck injury during a practice last week. It appears as though this is the same injury that forced him to miss South Florida’s final seven games a season ago.

One of the five guys featured in our piece earlier this week profiling some of USF’s top players, the loss of Sawtelle is a tough blow to the Bulls’ defense as they prepare to attempt to shut down Jonathan Taylor and this Wisconsin offense. Oklahoma State transfer Patrick Macon is expected to start in his place against the Badgers.

This post will be updated as new information becomes available throughout the week.