De­pleted UW heads into big game at Michi­gan

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - Uw Gameday - Ben Steele

Wis­con­sin has won back-to-back games to start Big Ten play, al­though it sure doesn’t seem like the Bad­gers are car­ry­ing a lot of mo­men­tum into their matchup with Michi­gan on Satur­day.

That’s prob­a­bly be­cause 10thranked UW (4-1, 2-0 Big Ten) will try to slow the No. 13 Wolver­ines with a de­fense mostly held to­gether by med­i­cal tape.

Cor­ner­backs Cae­sar Wil­liams (left leg) and Deron Har­rell (head) likely will be game-time de­ci­sions, but sopho­more de­fen­sive end Isa­iahh Lou­d­er­milk al­ready has been de­clared out with an an­kle in­jury.

Lou­d­er­milk’s ab­sence will weaken an al­ready ane­mic pass rush for UW. The Bad­gers have man­aged only five sacks this sea­son and linebacker An­drew Van Ginkel has been lim­ited in the last two games with a leg in­jury.

Red­shirt fresh­man walk-on Matt Hen­ningsen prob­a­bly will get the call to start for Lou­d­er­milk. UW starts an­other red­shirt fresh­man, Kay­den Lyles, at the other de­fen­sive end spot.

Hen­ningsen and Lyles started to­gether in the sea­son opener when Lou­d­er­milk was re­cov­er­ing from a knee in­jury.

"Matt Hen­ningsen and Kay­den hadn't played (then)," UW coach Paul Chryst said Thurs­day. "This is Game 6. They know what it's like to play in a game.

“Now we haven’t played Michi­gan yet, but each week there's a dif­fer­ent chal­lenge to it. But guys have played.”

UW guard Beau Ben­zschawel knows that the of­fense might have to carry the team a bit more this week. And in or­der for the Bad­gers to sus­tain drives, Ben­zschawel and his co­horts on the of­fen­sive line must have suc­cess against the ul­tra-tal­ented front seven of the Michi­gan de­fense.

“I think we know that this game is go­ing to fall on our shoul­ders,” Ben­zschawel said. “Run­ning backs aren’t go­ing to be able to bust big runs if the holes aren’t there for them.

“Ul­ti­mately it falls on us, so I don’t think it re­ally mat­ters who’s across from us.”

It would help the Bad­gers if they could get off to a bet­ter start than they did against Ne­braska last week­end.

UW ended up with 41 points, but that could have been much higher if the Bad­gers hadn’t set­tled for field goals on their first scor­ing drives.

On their first drive, the Bad­gers piled up 63 yards in 15 plays while tak­ing 7 min­utes and 52 sec­onds off the clock. But the drive came to a halt when quar­ter­back Alex Horni­brook could not com­plete a pass to wide re­ceiver Ken­dric Pryor on third and 7. UW set­tled for a 30-yard field goal by Rafael Gaglianone.

In the sec­ond quar­ter, UW moved the ball 41 yards but stalled when Horni­brook had a pass to A.J. Tay­lor bro­ken up on an­other third-and-7 play. Gaglianone hit a 28-yard field goal.

“I think it was just small things, ex­e­cu­tion,” Horni­brook said. “There were some third downs that we didn’t get. That was the rea­son we had to set­tle for a field goal.

“We moved the ball pretty well, we just didn’t end up with six points. We ended up with three and I think that’s just con­vert­ing those third downs and keep­ing those drive go­ing.”

Dom­i­nat­ing time of pos­ses­sion is of­ten a key part of win­ning on the road.

UW has been very suc­cess­ful win­ning away from home un­der Chryst, go­ing 15-1 in true road games. The Bad­gers have won 10 straight on the road, the sec­ond-long­est streak in the na­tion be­hind Ok­la­homa (17).

A win at Michi­gan Sta­dium with an un­der­manned de­fense would be a big state­ment for UW.

“Shoot, man, any time you win games is big,” UW of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Joe Ru­dolph said. “You can see it all over this con­fer­ence. There’s great matchups, there’s great play­ers, there’s great coach­ing.

“Guys come in with game plans that do their best and can give you trou­ble no mat­ter who they are. I think you cel­e­brate ev­ery win and hope you grow from ev­ery game.”

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