MADISON - The University of Wisconsin offensive line has been tormented by injuries in fall camp, and they sustained another during practice Monday afternoon.
Junior Walker Williams left the session with what was being called a head injury. He had been taking all the reps with the first-team offense at right tackle after injuries sidelined redshirt sophomore Hayden Biegel (concussion) and redshirt freshman Beau Benzschawel (knee) at the end of the first week of camp. It’s unclear how long Williams will be out.
He was replaced by redshirt freshman Jake Maxwell, who didn’t start taking reps at right tackle until the injuries to Biegel and Benzschawel popped up, having spent most of his practice time backing up Tyler Marz at left tackle. Maxwell did play right tackle as a junior in high school before moving to the left side as a senior.
Offensive line coach Joe Rudolph has a ‘next man up’ philosophy and thinks Maxwell is making progress.
“Jacob, to me, is becoming more comfortable with Jacob,” Rudolph said after practice. “He’s getting more and more confident in who he is. The talent level isn’t a question with him. When he gives himself the ability to be the best him, he’s going to be just fine. I think he’s getting there quick.”
In addition to the injuries at tackle, the offensive line has also been hit at guard. True freshman Jon Dietzen missed much of last week with an ankle injury, and senior Ray Ball didn’t take part in either of Monday’s practices due to an arm injury.
Rudolph wasn’t about to make excuses for his group and expects them to continue to fight.
“It’s neat seeing guys jump into different spots and make it work,” he said. “No one’s alarmed when their name gets called. That’s for sure. That’s good.”
** The Badgers flipped guards Michael Deiter and Micah Kapoi during the morning session, and it stayed the same in the afternoon practice. Deiter was at left guard and Kapoi at right guard. Rudolph said he felt the switch would be good for both guys, especially Deiter, who played left tackle in high school and appeared more comfortable on that side in terms of his mechanics.
“I thought maybe he’d be a little cleaner getting back to that,” Rudolph said of the left side for Deiter. “Because that’s the one thing he was struggling with just a hair. And [he] really made a pretty seamless transition there. I like how him and Tyler [Marz] communicate.”
Kapoi played left guard and right tackle as a senior in high school, and Rudolph said he was more than comfortable flipping around.
** Leon Jacobs made his return to the first-team defense in 11-on-11 drills. He looked to be moving around pretty well, though he still seemed to be a little hesitant in his cuts. With him and T.J. Edwards back on the field together, the first-team defense had their full compliment of starters for the first time since the third day of fall camp.
** Freshman Alex Hornibrook got nearly all the second-team quarterback reps on Monday. It was the first time in camp that he was the first one to follow Joel Stave and he looked pretty good. His ability to throw with anticipation is remarkable for such a young player. The trust in his wide receivers to make the right adjustment is something that veterans struggle with. It wasn’t perfect, of course, as he airmailed one pass over his intended receiver and it was intercepted by safety Lubern Figaro.
** The Badgers are extremely thin at tight end. On Monday, they had just four healthy bodies at the position, with two of them being true freshmen. It’s been like that most of camp with Eric Steffes in and out of the lineup but it became worrisome when Troy Fumagalli went down in Saturday’s scrimmage with an ankle injury. The redshirt sophomore was seen at the afternoon practice and didn’t appear to be limping too badly, which should allow for his return pretty quick. However, if need be, Derek Watt or another one of the fullbacks can be used as the move tight end as the positions are largely interchangeable.
** The Badgers defense won both 2-minute drill periods. The first-team offense stalled out around the 40-yard line, while Hornibrook led the second-team down the field before the defense stiffened inside the 10-yard line.
DE Alec James (ankle)
TE David Edwards (ankle)
OL Hayden Biegel (head)
OL Beau Benzschawel (knee)
S Arrington Farrar (mono)
OLB Jake Whalen (knee)
TE Troy Fumagalli (ankle)
WR Reggie Love (head)
LG Ray Ball (right arm)
ILB Leon Jacobs (toe full-go)
TE Eric Steffes (back)
RB Serge Trezy (hamstring)
OL Ryan Ramczyk (ankle)
OLB Zack Baun (head)
RT Walker Williams (head)
DE Jake Keefer (leg)
Wisconsin will hold one practice on Tuesday afternoon and it will be the final one open to the media.