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Wisconsin OLB Vince Biegel out “several weeks” with foot injury

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Another major blow for the Badgers.

NCAA Football: Georgia State at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

UPDATE—Friday, 12:32 p.m.: Wisconsin has confirmed Biegel’s foot injury, saying the senior linebacker will miss “several weeks.”

UW says Biegel met with team physicians on Wednesday and Thursday to discuss “approaches for handling the injury.” Biegel eventually had surgery on his right foot Thursday evening.

“I really hate any time a player has to miss time due to an injury, especially a senior like Vince,” head coach Paul Chryst said. “Vince has such a passion for football and loves playing the game. This team is very important to him and he is very important to our team. What you appreciate is that you know he will do everything in his power to get back on the field as soon as possible.”

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Heading into a top-10 matchup against No. 4 Michigan, the No. 8 Wisconsin Badgers will be without one of their starting inside linebackers, their lead nickel back and special teams guru, their starting placekicker and, now, one of their captains and emotional leaders of the team.

ESPN.com’s Jesse Temple reported on Thursday evening that senior outside linebacker Vince Biegel will be sidelined for at least Saturday’s Michigan game with a cracked foot. Temple spoke with Biegel’s father, Rocky, who believes his son will only miss about two to four weeks after the surgery was performed on Thursday evening. According to Rocky Biegel, Vince had been playing with it the past couple of weeks, and the surgery was to insert a screw into his foot.

The loss of Biegel, even for two to four weeks, cannot be understated. Elected as a captain, he is one of the leaders on the team who came back to the program despite overtures to head to the NFL last year. This season, despite only officially recording one sack and two tackles for loss over four games, he’s been one of the Big Ten’s best pass rushing productivity leaders, according to Pro Football Focus. With the tandem of fellow outside linebacker T.J. Watt, offensive coordinators have to game plan for him each week.

Redshirt freshman Zack Baun is listed behind Biegel as the field-side outside linebacker on Wisconsin’s depth chart and has recorded six tackles, two for loss. Redshirt junior Garret Dooley also has also recorded six tackles, and both reserves have played in all four games in 2016.

Defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox could possibly start both Baun or Dooley — the former being the direct back-up with Dooley backing up Watt. They could also swing redshirt junior Jack Cichy back to the outside where he started his college career. Cichy currently leads the team in tackles (23) and has been solid at inside linebacker since the position switch before the Rutgers game last October. That would leave former walk-on Ryan Connelly, who filled in admirably when Chris Orr suffered a season-ending knee injury against LSU on Sept. 3 with seven tackles, to pair with T.J. Edwards on the inside.

Earlier in the day, Wisconsin announced junior placekicker Rafael Gaglianone would miss the rest of the season due to back surgery performed on Thursday.

Wisconsin plays Michigan Saturday at 2:30 p.m. CT on ABC.