Wisconsin WR Quintez Cephus to miss the rest of the year

The expectation became reality today for the Wisconsin football team.

On Thursday’s injury report, wide receiver Quintez Cephus had gone from out for Saturday’s game against No. 20 Iowa to out for the season. It comes five days after he suffered a leg injury against Indiana that required surgery.

“You feel bad for him, certainly,” coach Paul Chryst told reporters. “[Quintez] will bounce back.”

Wisconsin is losing its No. 1 receiver in Cephus, who is tied with Troy Fumagalli with the most catches (30) on the team and leads the Badgers in receiving yards (501) and touchdowns (6). In fact, with Cephus out, along with seniors Jazz Peavy and George Rushing likely not playing again, Wisconsin must finish the year without three guys that have amassed 120 catches, 1,761 yards and 11 touchdowns in their careers.

That said, the Badgers have become accustomed to dealing with injuries and other guys filling in. In this case, that means sophomore A.J. Taylor, freshman Danny Davis and redshirt freshman Kendric Pryor. That trio has combined for 31 catches, 534 yards and three scores in their careers, most of which has come this season.

“I’m excited for them and their opportunity,” Chryst said. “Every time you say that it’s not like you’re not going to miss [the guy you lost]. You miss all the people. But, absolutely, I feel confident about the guys in that room stepping up and those around stepping up.”

Here’s a look at the full injury report in advance of Wisconsin’s game with No. 20 Iowa.

Wisconsin WR Jazz Peavy to miss Purdue game

MADISON — Wisconsin will not have the services of wide receiver Jazz Peavy on Saturday against Purdue.

The school released its final injury report for the week and Peavy was listed as out with a right leg injury. Coach Paul Chryst told reporters that it’s something that’s been bother the senior for a while, but he did practice some this week and it isn’t expected to be something that keeps him out long term.

Peavy has not been as involved in Wisconsin’s offense this year as he was as a junior, as sophomore Quintez Cephus has ascended to the No. 1 spot. Still, his absence will mean more chances for younger receivers, including sophomore A.J. Taylor, freshman Danny Davis and redshirt freshman Kendric Pryor.

“It’s another opportunity for guys to step up,” Chryst said. “You always want all your players, but you want them to be at their best. Obviously, Jazz isn’t able to do that. [We’ve] done it at a lot of other positions, and [now] that [wide receiver] group has to step up. And those around have to step up.”

Peavy has five catches for 55 yards this season.

The rest of the injury report:

QUESTIONABLE:

OL Jon Dietzen (leg)
RB Chris James (leg)
OL Micah Kapoi (arm)
K P.J. Rosowski (leg)

OUT

RB Taiwan Deal (leg)
S Patrick Johnson (arm)
DE Chikwe Obasih (leg)
WR Jazz Peavy (leg)
WR George Rushing (leg)

Badgers doing their best to stay focused

For the first time since 2011 the Wisconsin Badgers are unbeaten through five games on the gridiron. Unlike that 2011 season, the 2017 version of the Badgers have an incredibly manageable schedule the rest of the season.

Wisconsin should be a favorite in every game remaining on their schedule, with the closest matchup talent-wise coming in the second to last game of the season, when the University of Michigan comes to Camp Randall. Truthfully speaking, Wisconsin shouldn’t have trouble with Purdue, Maryland, Illinois, or Indiana before they take on Iowa November 11.

Having a schedule like this can give some teams a reason to look ahead, and potentially overlook an opponent, which is something Wisconsin can ill-afford to do.

“I’ve been a part of it and your experiences help guide you.” Head coach Paul Chryst told the media during the week following the win against Nebraska. “I think that’s why you spend a lot of time talking to them about [not looking ahead] and yet in the end every person has to make a choice about how they want to approach it. You try and do all that you can, but at some point, they have to choose. That’s where your veteran leadership has to help.”

The Badgers are starting to attract national attention, moving up to seventh in the Associated Press Poll, their highest ranking since the Big Ten Championship game last December. With the road that’s in front of them, they should climb higher as the season goes on.

“We always have an end goal and things like that, but we know our goal every week is to win that game at hand.” Linebacker TJ Edwards told the media. “I think our team has such good guys who relay that message to the younger guys to not get ahead of ourselves so that’s not really a problem with us.”

For some, it might be easier than others to not look past the week at hand, as Chryst said. One who doesn’t think it’s a challenge is offensive lineman Michael Deiter.

“It’s easy, it’s the same approach as every other season. It’s just another week.” Deiter said. “The 5-0 [record] is nice, that’s good, but we have Purdue this week. There’s no reason to get ahead. You can’t go anywhere beyond the season if you don’t win every game during the season. You can really trip yourself up if you get caught looking forward. It’s just a week to week thing with us and I think we’re good at that.”

The Badgers have high expectations for themselves, which they should. A five-game winning streak to start the season is not something that should be looked upon lightly, especially when one of the wins comes at Nebraska. If they’re going to hit their lofty goals, they’re going to need to keep their focus on a weekly basis.

“Obviously your mind is going to wander and do things like that just because you have such high expectations for this team, and things like that.” Edwards said. “We come in here on Sunday and Monday and know what our goal is at the end of the week.”

Injury update on Wisconsin TE Troy Fumagalli

MADISON — It’s looking like Wisconsin will have the services of tight end Troy Fumagalli on Saturday at Nebraska.

“Troy’s been able to work every day this week and each day do a little bit more,” coach Paul Chryst told reporters. “Feel good [about him playing] barring any setback from [Thursday’s] work.”

Fumagalli is Wisconsin’s top offensive weapon, leading them in catches (15) and yards (236) despite missing last week’s game against Northwestern with a leg injury. In his place, sophomore Kyle Penniston and junior Zander Neuville combined for one catch.

Meanwhile, Chryst said that defensive end Isaiahh Loudermilk, who is listed as questionable with a leg injury, practiced on Thursday and he feels good about his chances of playing on Saturday. The 6-foot-7, 303-pound redshirt freshman is a vital component to Wisconsin’s front seven, especially with senior Chikwe Obasih still out with a knee injury.

Here is Wisconsin’s full injury report:

QUESTIONABLE
TE Troy Fumagalli (leg)
DE Isaiahh Loudermilk (leg)
K P.J. Rosowski (leg)

OUT
RB Taiwan Deal
DE Chikwe Obasih
WR George Rushing

OUT FOR SEASON

OLB Zack Baun (foot)
RB Sam Broadner (knee)
ILB Jack Cichy (knee)
ILB Mason Stokke (leg)

Preview: (9) Wisconsin vs Florida Atlantic

THE BASICS

The teams: The No. 9 Wisconsin Badgers (1-0) vs the Florida Atlantic Owls (0-1)

The time: 11 a.m. CDT, Saturday

The place: Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, Wis.

The TV coverage: BTN with Kevin Kugler and Matt Millen in the booth, and Lisa Byington on the sideline.

The last time: This is the first ever meeting between the two schools

The series: N/A

The line: Wisconsin -33

The Badgers injury report:

QUESTIONABLE

RB Bradrick Shaw (leg)

OUT

Game:

RB Taiwan Deal (leg)
DE Chikwe Obasih (knee)
WR Kendric Pryor (face)
WR George Rushing (leg)
FB Jake Whalen (head)

Season:

LB Jack Cichy (knee)
LB Zack Baun (foot)
RB Sam Brodner (knee)
LB Mason Stokke (leg)

THE BREAKDOWN: FIVE THINGS TO WATCH

1) A one-time thing or a pattern?

After the way Wisconsin stumbled through much of the first half against Utah State in its opener, the Badgers need to show that it was a one-time thing and not something that will haunt them all year. If forced to choose what we might see on Saturday, we’d say it wasn’t something fans should worry about. But the anxiety will grow significantly if they struggle early against a Florida Atlantic team that Navy beat by 23 points last week.

2) See some improvement

Coach Paul Chryst doesn’t put much stock in the notion of team’s make their biggest jumps from the first game to the second, but he’s certainly looking for significant improvement in a number of areas, perhaps most notably when it comes to penalties. One of the most disciplined teams in the country in 2016, Wisconsin was called for nine penalties against Utah State — more than in any game a year ago. The Badgers need to clean it up, especially those happening before the play starts.

3) Time to dominate

One of the more surprising aspects of the Badgers slow start against Utah State was the inability of the offensive line to create running lanes and keep pressure off of quarterback Alex Hornibrook. Communication issues played a role, for sure, but the size and talent of the line is too great to not move teams like the Aggies and Florida Atlantic off the ball. While Wisconsin ended up rushing for 233 yards, the Badgers still need to show they can do it from the jump, especially against a Owls defense that allowed Navy to run for more than 400 yards in their opener.

4) More Jonathan Taylor

Nearly every player that made their debut a week ago lived up to the hype, but none more so than running back Jonathan Taylor. He showed off his speed, vision, balance and explosiveness in running for 87 yards and a touchdown. Now, with sophomore Bradrick Shaw a little dinged up, we could see a whole lot more of Taylor on Saturday. And if he capitalizes on it, he could stake his claim to being Wisconsin’s lead back moving forward.

5) Hurricane Irma

While five of the seven FBS teams that call Florida home cancelled their games this weekend due to Hurricane Irma, the storm bearing down on South Florida did not deter the Owls from making the trip to Madison. How will what’s happening back home impact the play of 18-to-23-year-old college students who left homes that may not be there when they get back?

And what about the eight players from the state of Florida on the Wisconsin roster? How focused can anyone expect them to be when their families are dealing with a storm of this magnitude?

The debate over whether the game should be played is pointless — it’s obviously going to happen. But the storm’s impact mentally for players on both sides is relevant and something to watch.

NUMBERS TO CONSIDER

Wisconsin is 16-1 under coach Paul Chryst when holding teams to 100 yards or less on the ground.

Alex Hornibrook has thrown 73 passes since his last interception, a stretch that covers seven games. The quarterback’s last interception came in the fourth quarter of Wisconsin’s win over Nebraska last October.

Wisconsin’s 59 points against Utah State were the most under Chryst since he returned as coach in 2015, and the most they’ve put up when he’s been calling plays since hanging 62 on Purdue on Nov. 5, 2011.

After taking the ball away from Utah State four times in the opener, the Badgers are averaging three turnovers forced per game over their last six contests.

PREDICTIONS

Zach Heilprin’s prediction: Wisconsin 52, Florida Atlantic 13 (1-0 on the season, 1-0 against the spread)
Ebo’s prediction: Wisconsin 53, Florida Atlantic 14 (1-0 on the season, 1-0 against the spread)
Joe Miller’s prediction: Wisconsin 56, Florida Atlantic 10 (1-0 on the season, 1-0 against the spread)

Wisconsin holds steady in one poll, falls in another

MADISON — Wisconsin won its season opener 59-10 over Utah State last Friday, but it was not enough to impress those that vote in the national polls.

The Badgers dropped one spot in Amway Coaches Poll to No. 11, with Oklahoma State the team replacing them in the top 10.

Meanwhile, in the AP Top 25, Wisconsin passed Florida State, but stayed at No. 9 because Michigan jumped the Badgers, coming in at No. 8.

Overall, there were four teams in the top-10 of the AP poll, while the coaches’ poll had three.

Michigan remains the only team on Wisconsin’s schedule that is currently ranked in either poll, though three others are receiving votes in one or both of the surveys.

Full AP Poll

Full coaches’ poll

No. 9 Wisconsin overcomes a slow start to whip Utah State 59-10

MADISON — It took nearly 29 minutes, but No. 9 Wisconsin finally woke up. And once it did, the Badgers turned into a steamroller, scoring 59 unanswered points, including 49 in the second half, to beat Utah State 59-10 on Friday night at Camp Randall Stadium.

Play of the Game

Utah State led 10-7 with 1:01 left in the first half and had a first-and-10 at its own 18-yard line. The Badgers had just gotten their first points of the game, so it would have made sense for the Aggies to be satisfied with their lead and head into halftime. They apparently weren’t satisfied, as quarterback Kent Myers came out throwing and it turned into a disaster. His short toss to Carson Terrell on first down went off the receiver’s hands and right into the waiting arms of linebacker T.J. Edwards.

“That was huge,” safety D’Cota Dixon said afterwards. “It was the hammer and the nail. That’s exactly what you need, especially when you’re down. It was exactly what we needed.”

The interception only led to a field goal, but it was the first of many mistakes the rest of the way for Utah State, which would go on to turn the ball over four times.

Game Balls

Offense: TE Troy Fumagalli

Others were flashier, but the senior posted a career-high 105 yards receiving, picking up where he left off in Wisconsin’s Cotton Bowl victory last January.

His 15-yard catch on third-and-12 in the second quarter kept the Badgers first scoring drive of the game going, and then quarterback Alex Hornibrook found him wide open on third-and-2 early in the third quarter for a 23-yard touchdown.

With his big night, Fumagalli now sits fifth all-time in receiving yards for a tight end at Wisconsin, and will likely end up with the second-most by the time his career is over.

Defense: ILB T.J. Edwards

The junior was everywhere on Friday night, collecting seven tackles, one tackle for loss, picking off one pass and breaking up two more throws. His interception late in the second quarter proved to be the turning point in a game that Utah State led at that point.

But it wasn’t just the numbers for Edwards. It was the passion he played with, finishing off tackles with an emphasis. It was everything you’d expect out of one of the best linebackers in the Big Ten.

Special Teams: K Rafael Gaglianone

He only kicked one field goal — from just 29 yards — but Gaglianone gets the game ball because it was his first time on the field since suffering a season-ending back injury last September.

Wisconsin didn’t need his leg to win on Friday night, but history would suggest they’ll need it at some point this season.

Video of the Game

In their own words

Jonathan Taylor describes his first career touchdown, a 13-yard scamper in the third quarter.

Quote of the Day

“I always describe Coach Chryst as a dad away from home. He’s just the same guy. He’s very smooth, very calm, very collected. But, as a father would when a child needs to be disciplined and needs to be talked to, he will discipline us. He just honestly told us the truth. We were beating ourselves a lot.”

— Dixon on the loud and direct message that coach Paul Chryst gave the team at halftime on Friday night.

In Case You Missed It

— Wisconsin’s captains were defensive end Alec James, wide receiver Jazz Peavy, tight end Troy Fumagalli and safety Natrell Jamerson. The honorary captain was Al Toon, a member of UW’s Athletic Hall of Fame.

— Several true freshmen made their debuts on Friday, including running back Jonathan Taylor, wide receiver Danny Davis, quarterback Jack Coan, cornerback Madison Cone and long snapper Adam Bay.

— Fumagalli wore No. 48 in honor of senior linebacker Jack Cichy, who will miss the year with a torn ACL. Fumagalli said it was just a one time thing, but that he really wanted to do it to show Cichy how much he meant to the team.

— Junior Zander Neuville’s first career catch turned into his first career touchdown, as he tightroped down the sideline for the 28-yard score early in the third quarter. But it wouldn’t have been possible without the extra effort of Danny Davis, who managed to block three different guys to help get the tight end into the end zone.

— Wisconsin trailed 10-0 in the first half. It was the first time the Badgers had trailed by double digits in a non-conference home game since 2012 against — you guessed it — Utah State. The Badgers won that game 16-14.

Inside the Numbers

15:19 — That’s how long it took for Wisconsin to go from down 10-0 to up 38-10.

87 — That’s the number of rushing yards for freshman Jonathan Taylor in his first career game. It included a pretty 41-yard run on the first play of the second half to jump start the offense.

99 — That was the length of Joe Ferguson’s interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, the longest return in school history.

3 — That’s the number of touchdowns Alex Hornibrook threw on Friday night, a career high and 1/3 of what he threw all of last year.

478 — That’s the number of yards Wisconsin’s offense rolled up. It’s the third-highest total since Chryst took over as coach in 2015.

What’s Next

Wisconsin (1-0) will host Florida Atlantic next Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium. The Owls, in their first game under new coach Lane Kiffin, lost 42-19 to Navy on Friday.

Preview: (9) Wisconsin vs Utah State

THE BASICS

The teams: The No. 9 Wisconsin Badgers (0-0) vs the Utah State Aggies (0-0)

The time: 8 p.m. CDT, Friday

The place: Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, Wis.

The TV coverage: ESPN with Adam Amin and Dusty Dvoracek in the booth, and Molly McGrath on the sideline.

The last time: In 2012, Utah State’s Josh Thompson missed a 37-yard field goal with 6 seconds left, allowing Wisconsin to escape with a 16-14 victory over Gary Andersen and the Aggies.

The series: Tied 1-1

The line: Wisconsin -27.5

The Badgers injury report:

OUT

Game:

RB Taiwan Deal (leg)
WR Kendric Pryor (face)
WR George Rushing (leg)
FB Jake Whalen (head)

Season:

LB Jack Cichy (knee)
LB Zack Baun (foot)
RB Sam Brodner (knee)
LB Mason Stokke (leg)

THE BREAKDOWN: FIVE THINGS TO WATCH

1) The start

Wisconsin opens the 2017 season with high expectations. The Badgers are a consensus top-10 team for the first time since 2007 and nearly everyone is picking them to take home a third Big Ten West title in four years. And by all indications they are capable of fulfilling those expectations and more. On a team-wide basis, this fall camp, at least what the media got to see, was the most impressive since at least 2013. Will what we saw in practice show up when the lights come on? If it does, watch out.

2) Year No. 2 for Alex Hornibrook

Wisconsin’s offense has a number of very accomplished veterans, but it’ll go only as far as sophomore quarterback Alex Hornibrook takes it.

The good news is that he appears primed to lead it to new heights. After going 7-2 as a starter in 2016, Hornibrook set out to eliminate weaknesses in his game, spending his winter and spring break in California with quarterback guru George Whitfield, attending the invite-only Manning Passing Academy in June and leading player-only throwing sessions. The results, at least in fall camp, have been more than positive. His pocket presence is vastly improved and he has a little more zip on his passes, allowing him to fit throws into tighter spaces.

Fans will get to judge it for themselves on Friday, but the consensus among media members was Hornibrook took a big step from last fall.

3) The replacements

The Badgers lost a number of really talented players from their 2016 squad that are now fighting for jobs in the NFL, and many eyes will be on their replacements.

It starts at left tackle, where All-American Ryan Ramczyk left early for the draft and was a first-round pick of the New Orleans Saints. Wisconsin went with junior Michael Deiter as his replacement, and while he’s started 27 straight games, none of them have come at tackle. His ability to handle the edge is paramount for the offense.

In the backfield, Wisconsin lost more than 1,800 yards rushing from Corey Clement and Dare Ogunbowale. That void will be filled by at least three players and maybe more as junior Chris James, sophomore Bradrick Shaw and freshman Jonathan Taylor battle for carries.

On defense, outside linebacker Vince Biegel and T.J. Watt got drafted in April, but their fill-ins — seniors Garrett Dooley and Leon Jacobs — are more than capable of stepping up, especially Jacobs, who had a monster fall camp and has the makings of a dominant pass rusher.

And in the secondary, where cornerback Sojourn Shelton and safety Leo Musso needed to be replaced, the Badgers appear to have top-flight options in the form of transfer Nick Nelson at cornerback and wide receiver-turned-cornerback-turned safety in senior Natrell Jamerson.

4) Young guys on deck

Wisconsin isn’t known for playing a lot of true freshmen, but there are a number of them in the two-deep, including three at skill positions.

Jack Coan beat out redshirt freshman Kare Lyles for the backup quarterback job, Taylor’s performance in the final few weeks of fall camp has the coaching staff salivating over his potential and wide receiver Danny Davis has proven to be as good as his 4-star recruiting ranking suggests.

Taylor and Davis are almost guarantees to play, while it remains to be seen how coach Paul Chryst wants to use Coan in blowout situations.

5) Back in time

After two so-so years, the Wisconsin offensive line looks to be on the verge of returning to the dominating form it’s showed so often over the last 25 years. There aren’t any seniors, but nearly all the contributors are in their third or fourth years in the program, having gained the strength and experience necessary for success. Utah State’s defensive line might not be the greatest test, but it is the first and it’s one the line is ready to attack.

NUMBERS TO CONSIDER

Wisconsin has won 37 straight home games against non-conference teams, the second-longest streak in the country. The last loss came in 2003.

Friday will be the sixth time the Badgers have opened the season with a night game at home. They are 4-1 in those games, including a 51-17 whipping of UNLV in 2011.

Senior Troy Fumagalli needs 81 yards to move into fifth-place for career receiving yards among tight ends in Wisconsin history. If he puts up the same numbers he did a year ago — 580 yards — he would finish his career with the second-most yards for a tight end at UW.

PREDICTIONS

Zach Heilprin’s prediction: Wisconsin 41, Utah State 3 (0-0 on the season)
Ebo’s prediction: Wisconsin 44, Utah State 6 (0-0 on the season)
Joe Miller’s prediction: Wisconsin 42 , Utah State 7 (0-0 on the season)

Wisconsin has its No. 2 quarterback

MADISON — Following Wisconsin’s scrimmage last Friday, coach Paul Chryst said it was too early to name a No. 2 quarterback. Six days later, Chryst has made a decision.

During a Thursday night appearance on 100.5 FM in Madison, the third-year coach said true freshman Jack Coan would serve as Alex Hornibrook’s backup in 2017. Coan beat out redshirt freshman Kare Lyles for the job.

A 3-star recruit, the Sayville, N.Y. native enrolled early after setting Long Island career records by throwing for 9,787 yards and 128 touchdowns. He added another 2,551 yards and 33 touchdowns on the ground.

During spring practice and fall camp, Coan flashed the attributes that allowed him to be so prolific as a prep, though his lack of experience was evident in terms of his inconsistency.

It remains unclear how Chryst will choose to use his backup quarterbacks. Most coaches wouldn’t want to burn a true freshman’s redshirt year just for some mop-up duty, but Chryst also has to make sure Coan is ready if Hornibrook were to miss any significant time.

If Coan does play, he’ll have done something few others at Wisconsin have in the last 30 years. Using a true freshman at quarterback in Madison is almost unheard of, with the last one to start a game being Lionel Crawford in 1988.

Wisconsin will open its season Sept. 1 against Utah State at Camp Randall Stadium.

LB Jack Cichy to miss 2017 season

MADISON — Wisconsin has lost senior linebacker Jack Cichy for the 2017 season.

The school announced Wednesday morning that the former walk-on had torn the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during practice on Tuesday. Cichy will undergo surgery in Chicago on Friday.

“You hate it for Jack,” coach Paul Chryst said in a statement released by the school . “You only get so many chances to play this game and you never want to see a guy miss any of those opportunities. He’s one of the leaders of our team and I know he’ll be a big part of what we do moving forward this season.”

The Somerset, Wis., native went down clutching his right knee without being touched during a drill Tuesday night. He walked off under his own power and later returned to practice but was clearly still bothered by it.

Inside linebacker is among the deepest positions on Wisconsin’s roster. Junior T.J. Edwards is entering his third year as a starter, junior Ryan Connelly started the final seven games of last season and sophomore Chris Orr started six games a true freshman in 2015.

Cichy, named a captain by his teammates, missed the final seven games of last year after tearing his left pectoral. Despite that, he still earned All-Big Ten honorable mention by racking up 60 tackles, 7.0 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.