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.