Big Ten

Badgers lose Dan Voltz for season, Robert Wheelwright out indefinitely


Badgers lose Dan Voltz for season, Robert Wheelwright out indefinitely

As could’ve been predicted after the injuries suffered during Saturday’s win over Illinois, Wisconsin had some bad news to announce Monday.

Head coach Paul Chryst announced that center Dan Voltz is out for the remainder of the season with a knee injury that knocked him out of Saturday’s game. Wide receiver Robert Wheelwright also left the game in the second half with a leg injury. Chryst said Monday that Wheelwright will remain sidelined indefinitely, saying there's an "outside chance we can get him back for the end of the season."

Voltz was an All-Big Ten selection last season and is arguably the best player on the Wisconsin offensive line. A redshirt junior, he’s expected to be back for his senior season in 2016.

"Dan meant a lot to this team and certainly the offensive line, and we're definitely out one, but we'll get them ready, should that opportunity present itself," Chryst said. "I think that's part of coaching, is give them a chance to have success."

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Wheelwright, a junior, leads the Badgers with four touchdown catches. He ranks second on the team with 28 receptions and 369 receiving yards.

Starting quarterback Joel Stave was knocked out early Saturday with a head injury. Chryst said after the game that Stave was cleared to play after going through concussion protocols, but he remained out anyway. Despite Stave being listed as the Badgers’ No. 1 quarterback on Monday’s depth chart, Chryst said that Stave will continue to go through concussion protocols this week.

"They tell you they're in it, and then they tell you if they're out of it. I mean, it's the doctors — and that's a good thing, it's not in our hands," Chryst said. "It's not like player safety means something more now, right? In all the years that I've been able to coach and been around coaches, that's always been important. I think there is a protocol or a list of things you check off and make sure that this is where we're at, and part of it's every player has a baseline, and this is — they're doing it in high schools now — so you've got a frame of reference. And during the game, I know they ask questions and talk to them, and then there is an exercise component to it once they are feeling cleared, how do they respond to the exercise, and then the doctors and the trainers say that they're cleared, and they're ready to go and then you get 'em back into participation."

Stave ranks fourth in the Big Ten with 1,757 passing yards. Backup quarterback Bart Houston relieved Stave on Saturday and had a big day against the Illinois defense, completing 22 of his 33 passing attempts for 232 yards and a pair of touchdowns to go along with a pair of interceptions.

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Though it sounds like Stave might return to action soon, the other injuries are downright devastating on the offensive side of the ball, which even before these three was hampered significantly. Wisconsin was already without its top two running backs. Corey Clement continues to battle back from hernia surgery and has only registered eight carries this season. Taiwan Deal remains sidelined with his own injury.

Additionally, offensive linemen Hayden Biegel and Ray Ball are likely done for the rest of the year, per Chryst.

The Badgers showed great resiliency in managing to still emerge victorious over the Illini on Saturday. Look to the other side of the ball, where the injuries haven’t been quite as prevalent and the performance has been terrific. Wisconsin ranks eighth in the country in total defense, allowing an average of just 279.9 yards per game.

Wisconsin, 6-2 overall and 3-1 in conference play, hosts Rutgers this weekend.

Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin diagnosed with cervical stenosis, will retire immediately


Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin diagnosed with cervical stenosis, will retire immediately

Tough news out of Evanston this morning: Northwestern announced that running back Jeremy Larkin will retire immediately after being diagnosed with cervical stenosis.

Cervical stenois is the narrowing of the spinal canal in one's neck, according to Mayo Clinic. Larkin's condition is thankfully not life-threatening, though it does prevent him from continuing to participate in the game of football. 

"Football has been a lifelong passion and it has been a process to reconcile the fact I won't be on that field again, given I've played this game since I was five years old," Larkin said.

"I'm extremely appreciative of the Northwestern sports medicine and athletic training staffs for uncovering this condition, and for my coaches and the medical staff for always putting my health first.

"I came to this University to engage at the absolute highest level on the field and in the classroom, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to continue one of those while supporting my teammates from the sideline." 

Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald called the news "heartbreaking."

"This is heartbreaking because I see every day how much Jeremy loves the game, loves his teammates, and loves to compete," Fitzgerald said in a statement. "But this is the absolute best possible outcome for him.

"The discovery of this condition allowed Jeremy and his family to make an informed decision for his long-term health and well-being. For those of us who have known Jeremy Larkin since his high school days, his future is exceptionally bright. I can't wait to see the impact he makes in our world."

Larkin is a sophomore from Cincinnati. He finishes his Northwestern career with 156 carries for 849 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns.

Former Illini champion Kevin Anderson upsets Roger Federer in Wimbledon quarterfinal


Former Illini champion Kevin Anderson upsets Roger Federer in Wimbledon quarterfinal

Former University of Illinois tennis star Kevin Anderson completed a marathon upset against an all-time great on the highest stage of professional tennis.

Anderson came back from two sets down to beat Roger Federer in Wimbledon’s quarterfinals 2-6, 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 13-11 on Wednesday morning. He will play in the semifinals of the tournament for the first time in his career.

As a native of South Africa, Anderson played three seasons with the Fighting Illini and won the NCAA doubles championship during the 2005-06 season as a sophomore. The 32-year-old was a three-time All-American in singles at Illinois.

Now, as the eighth ranked singles player on the ATP World Tour, Anderson is a force to be reckoned with at the professional level. He made it all the way to the US Open final in 2017.

The former Illini star will look to keep his recent success going when he represents Illinois in the semifinals of Wimbledon this Friday.