Wisconsin Football will be without a couple of key contributors when it hosts a tough Michigan State squad at Camp Randall this weekend.
We are at Week 7 of the 2019 season, and you have to think that the Badgers have been one of the most fortunate teams in the Big Ten on the injury front, though the losses of Zander Neuville, Luke Benzschawel, and Scott Nelson do sting. However, Wisconsin has managed to find a way to get by pretty seamlessly without Neuville and Benzschawel by scheming up different formations with extra linemen and Cormac Sampson as the top blocking tight end, and while Nelson looked poised to take a big step this season, the Badgers are so deep at safety right now that they have not felt his absence much at all.
Nonetheless, Wisconsin will be without a couple of key rotational players who are new additions to the injury report this weekend as it looks to take down a very hard-nosed Michigan State squad on Saturday. With that said, let’s take a closer look at the overall health of the Badgers as they prepare for the Spartans.
OUT FOR SEASON
- Cade Green – Wide Receiver
- Gabe Lloyd – Tight End
- Josh Bernhagen – Long Snapper
- Zander Neuville – Tight End
- Scott Nelson – Safety
- Luke Benzschawel – Tight End
- Leo Chenal – Inside Linebacker
- Mason Stokke – Fullback
After receiving the news last week that Luke Benzschawel was officially being shut down for the remainder of the season as he continues recovering from the right leg injury he suffered in fall camp, thankfully, there have not been any new additions to that “Out for season” category in the days since.
Additionally, there were no players whose status remains up in the air listed on the injury report provided on Thursday. Bryson Williams was listed as questionable for last week’s matchup with Kent State, and ultimately ended up getting some snaps against the Golden Flashes, though he did not record any statistics and Keeanu Benton continued to receive the lion’s share of reps at nose tackle. That being said, there was really no need to throw Williams in there any more than he was in what was a blowout from start to finish. Perhaps we will see the sophomore a bit more this week in what should be a tight contest against the Spartans.
While Williams’ return to the field is certainly encouraging news, so is Madison Cone‘s. The junior safety has missed the last couple of games with a left leg injury but is no longer listed on the injury report and will be available to suit up on Saturday. We’ll see how much Jim Leonhard decides to use him because John Torchio has filled in admirably as Wisconsin’s fourth safety and proved he can be relied upon with significant snaps. If Cone still isn’t quite at 100 percent, and perhaps even if he is back to full health, Torchio has positioned himself with his solid play to take on that role.
Now, the bad news: the Badgers will be without two key pieces of their respective positional rotations, in both cases as the result of a head injury.
After being sidelined against Northwestern with a head injury that may or may not be a related ailment to this week’s, Leo Chenal will sit out once against this weekend. The true freshman linebacker returned to action against Kent State last week and picked up right where he left off before going down with that first injury, recording three tackles (all solo) and a sack.
Chris Orr and Jack Sanborn have been balling out all season, and Mike Maskalunas has also been solid as the unit’s top reserve, but this is definitely a matchup the Badgers would love to have Chenal available for. Given the similar styles of play between these two programs, Saturday’s contest is almost certainly going to be the definition of a smash-mouth affair, and Wisconsin is just an injury or two to that trio away from being in serious trouble at inside linebacker. One of the toughest and most physical players on the roster, Chenal will be missed against the Spartans.
Another guy the Badgers will be without come Saturday is Mason Stokke. The junior has primarily worked as John Chenal‘s backup at fullback so far this season, toting the rock 4 times for 20 yards in the process. The only other player listed as a fullback on the roster is true freshman Quan Easterling, who has not seen the field to this point and is almost certainly redshirting. It doesn’t seem likely we will see him against Michigan State, either, so expect a very heavy dose of Chenal on Saturday. Should something happen to Chenal, the Badgers will have to get creative in the backfield.
All stats courtesy of Sports Reference