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Wisconsin LB Jack Cichy out for season

Another blow to a talented, gritty defense.

NCAA Football: Wisconsin at Michigan State Milwaukee Journal Sentinel-USA TODAY Sports

The hits keep coming for the Wisconsin defense.

Wisconsin announced on Monday that redshirt junior inside linebacker Jack Cichy will miss the rest of the 2016 season with a torn pectoral muscle. It’s a significant blow to a defensive unit already stricken with injuries at that position group.

Cichy, who was Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week for his 15-tackle performance against then-No. 2 Ohio State, recorded 60 tackles through seven games. That included 10 tackles in Wisconsin’s 17-9 win over Iowa on Saturday afternoon. He led the team in that category, while was second on the team in tackles for loss (seven).

"I feel, once again, there’s a guy that I loved the way he played and put it out there," head coach Paul Chryst said on Monday. "We actually talked about that yesterday, and he brought it up. He goes, ‘I’m glad I played the way I did. I didn’t cheat it at all,’ and he did. He put it all out there, and you feel bad for him missing these opportunities to play."

Chryst, when asked by a reporter later in his weekly press conference, confirmed later that his linebacker didn’t injure himself further by playing in the second half.

The Somerset, Wis., native will still needed by the team, but in a different role off the field.

"He was our energy to our defense, and we’re going to still need him to be that person if want to where we want to be," senior outside linebacker Vince Biegel said on Monday.

The former walk-on suffered the injury late in the first half but continued to play with the injury into the second half. During the final two quarters, he was severely limited before being replaced by former walk-on Ryan Connelly later in the game.

Wisconsin’s depth chart released Monday shows both Connelly, a redshirt sophomore, and redshirt junior Leon Jacobs as replacements for Cichy.

Connelly, a former walk-on, has registered 12 tackles this season — including seven in the season opener against LSU. Jacobs converted back from fullback has recorded nine tackles through seven games.

At that position group itself, UW is already missing sophomore Chris Orr (right knee) for the season, while true freshman Griffin Grady is questionable for Saturday’s game against Nebraska (6 p.m. CT, ESPN) with a left shoulder injury.

"We have a lot of confidence in Ryan," Biegel said. "We saw Ryan against LSU step in for Chris Orr when he went down, and Leon Jacobs had actually started at the beginning of the season. Both of these gentlemen have game time experience. We feel confident with both of these guys filling in.

"Obviously, it’s disappointing for a talented guy like Jack Cichy to go down, but it’s not just going to take Leon and Ryan to step up, but it also going to take our whole defensive front seven to fill in for guys who go down like Jack."