The Wisconsin Badgers’ defense will have to replace one of its talented players at a key position once again.
Sophomore inside linebacker Chris Orr is out for the season with a right knee injury, the Badgers announced Monday. Orr was injured on the first offensive play of Saturday’s win vs. LSU and did not return. It’s a significant loss to a team already thin on the interior of the defense.
“During the game, I was told that he was feeling pretty good, and for a while, thought he might be able to get back into the game,” head coach Paul Chryst said during Monday’s press conference. Yesterday, Orr had the MRI and received the news.
“He came in the office. Chris, he’s an interesting young man. He crutched in and said, ‘Just wanted to make sure you saw me smiling today.’ He goes, ‘I’ll be back,’ and I believed him.
“These kids do put so much into it, and you hate it for them.”
Former walk-on Ryan Connelly stepped up in Orr’s absence and did not miss a step, registering seven tackles, tied for second on the team with T.J. Watt. His tackle on LSU running back Leonard Fournette negated what could have been an explosive play on a screen play.
Connelly is listed alongside Jack Cichy this week as the first-team inside linebacker on Wisconsin’s depth chart. True freshman Griffin Grady also slides into a second-team spot at inside linebacker.
“I thought Ryan [Connelly] did a nice job of coming in and being prepared, so when or if something would like that would have happened, and made one of the bigger plays of the game,” Chryst said.
“For me, Chris is a close friend of mine and you never want to see a teammate, let alone a friend, go down, but give Ryan Connelly an extreme amount of credit for being prepared to be able to fill into a big-time role like that and go out there and execute,” outside linebacker Vince Biegel said after the game on Saturday.
“Ryan made plays all over the field. He made tackles, he made great pass coverage, pass blocks. That just gives credit to our coaching staff to prepare our starters but also prepare that second man in, because when their time is called, they’re ready to go.”
Quick shot of depth chart: Connelly at No. 1 ILB for Orr, Rosowski No. 1 punter pic.twitter.com/f0zip89sTL— Bucky's 5th Quarter (@B5Q) September 5, 2016
T.J. Edwards is listed as questionable this week with the left foot injury that kept him out of Saturday’s game. Chryst admitted on Monday that he doesn’t know the pace of which the redshirt sophomore will return.
Orr played in 10 games last season, starting six, and recorded 46 tackles.
“I don’t know when he’ll have surgery and [Chris] was certainly disappointed, but his mom and dad and brothers -- they raised him right,” Chryst stated. “He’s got the right perspective on it.”
Wisconsin faces Akron on Saturday for its home opener at Camp Randall Stadium. The Zips defeated VMI 47–24 last Saturday.