Two key contributors for the No. 5 Wisconsin Badgers are closer to playing on Saturday against New Mexico.
Head coach Paul Chryst told reporters on Thursday morning that he expects redshirt senior tight end Zander Neuville and redshirt sophomore defensive end Isaiahh Loudermilk to take part in Wisconsin’s second game of the year (11 a.m. CT, BTN).
“Both felt good today, so that’s encouraging, so I anticipate both of them playing,” Chryst said.
The return of both players will enhance the depth and quality of their respective positions. Neuville should reassume his position as the No. 1 tight end, as stated on Wisconsin’s Week 2 depth chart that was released on Monday. Kyle Penniston and Jake Ferguson will likely play roles once again within the offense, but Neuville’s apparent replacement as the in-line type tight end, redshirt sophomore Luke Benzschawel, is out this week.
Loudermilk, who played in 11 games and registered 1.5 sacks last season, will likely bring a much-needed presence at defensive end. Though both redshirt freshmen Matt Henningsen and Kayden Lyles performed well in their collegiate debuts last weekend—both starting—Loudermilk provides a hint more experience overall, another able body to clog up gaps, and an ability to pass rush.
Neuville is still technically listed as questionable, as is back-up kicker P.J. Rosowski.
Downgraded from questionable to out is true freshman safety Reggie Pearson (left leg). With Patrick Johnson departing the program, that position group has increasingly become thin heading into the match-up against the Lobos on Saturday. Redshirt sophomore Eric Burrell, listed as one of the two second-team safeties this week, registered a tackle and a forced fumble in the fourth quarter of the win over Western Kentucky.
Chryst on recent player departures
Not surprisingly, Chryst was asked about the recent departures of Johnson, outside linebacker Arrington Farrar, and cornerback Dontye Carriere-Williams, and if he has any concerns about players leaving the program.
“What’s neat about this whole deal is that there’s a 120 different individuals, and therefore all have different circumstances,” Chryst said. “It’s not to me, one, OK, this is an isolated incident with these three. They each have their own story, and you appreciate each kid, and you appreciate and want to try to help them navigate the waters through it. You’re always concerned about the guys that are in your program and what’s going on in their world and their life. I’m not concerned about the state of the program or something that’s happening there, but I wouldn’t be telling the truth if you’re not concerned about each individual. Those individuals, even when they leave, that you still are concerned about them. You want them to do well. You want them to get through things that they got to get through, whatever that may be. It’s not like they’re out the door, and you just don’t deal with them anymore.”