MADISON - Gary Andersen had potentially very good news in the injury department for the University of Wisconsin on Monday.
The head coach told reporters that defensive linemen Konrad Zagzebski and Warren Herring should be able – at some point – to play again this year.
The news on Herring is especially encouraging for the Badgers. The senior went down on the final play of the third quarter after getting bent back and having his right leg get stuck underneath another player. The nose guard wasn’t able to put any weight on the leg as he was helped off the field and was on crutches with a large wrap after the game.
Andersen called him day-to-day, and that he should be back shortly.
“I was worried for Warren in that situation,” Andersen said. “He's a tough kid. I was glad to hear the report when it came back what we thought it was.”
It’s possible that Zagzebski will be back even sooner. The defensive end injured his neck or head in the first quarter of the game, and had to be taken off the field on a stretcher. The senior was released from the hospital that night and flew home with the team.
“He'll be out there moving around and should be ready to go,” Andersen said. “If not this week (against Western Illinois), for sure after the bye week.”
The injuries put a dent into an already shallow depth chart. Without Herring or Zagzebski, redshirt sophomore Arthur Goldberg played about 50 snaps according to Andersen. The plan was for 25. By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, UW was spent, and it showed as LSU ran 16 times for 81 yards (5.1 per carry) before taking a knee twice to end the game.
“And that's difficult,” Andersen said playing without Herring and Zagzebski. “Again, it's football. But were we different without those two young men in there? Absolutely. There's no question we'll have to continually fight to overcome that until hopefully we get them back.”
Their absence led to more playing time for not only Goldberg, but also junior Jake Keefer, and redshirt freshmen Alec James and Chikwe Obasih.
It also allowed for the debut of true freshman Conor Sheehy, who played in a couple series of the fourth quarter.
McEvoy to start against Western Illinois
If there was any doubt as to whether Tanner McEvoy would get the start in UW’s second game of the season, it was put to rest on Monday when Andersen was asked point blank if the junior was still his starter.
“Yeah, Tanner will start the game this week,” the coach said.
The start will be his second in Division I. The first did not go as planned. He finished 8 of 24 for 50 yards and two interceptions.
“Do we need better play? Absolutely,” Andersen said of the quarterback spot. “No one's going to sit here (and) debate that. We need better play out of the quarterback and better play in the throw game period.”
Punter Drew Meyer was a busy guy on Saturday night, punting eight times. It appeared that the junior was dealing with some sort of injury after a 26-yard punt in the third quarter that gave LSU the ball at their own 41-yard line. That came after a 25-yard punt gave the Tigers the ball at their own 40-yard line.
“He wasn't (injured),” Andersen said. “The word I got is that he just had some cramping issues in his calf or foot. And it's concerning to cramp up in that situation.
But he's fine. And we expect him to obviously punt the ball better than (that and) he expects himself to punt the ball better.”
Meyer averaged 37.5 yard per punt with a long of 57.
Starting right tackle Rob Havenstein was wearing a boot on his right foot when he spoke with reporters on Monday. He said it was just a sprained foot, and that he’d be ready to practice on Tuesday.
Andersen also said wide receiver Rob Wheelwright, who has been out of practice since the second week of fall camp with an undisclosed injury, should be able to practice full speed this week.