The University of Wisconsin football team managed a victory in its up-and-down contest with Northwestern at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday, but life for the Badgers’ offense was made more difficult when UW announced tight end Troy Fumagalli would miss the game with a left leg injury.
Fumagalli, who picked up a couple All-American honors in the preseason, entered this week as UW’s leader in catches (15), receiving yards (236) and receiving touchdowns (three). His blocking ability also plays a major part in the Badgers’ running game.
It appeared UW played much less three-tight end sets Saturday than in their first three games, but Badgers coach Paul Chryst said the offense didn’t need to drastically change without Fumagalli.
“I give credit to the other tight ends and the fullbacks,” Chryst said. "Certainly we like it when Troy plays, and he’s a really good football player, but as far as what we were going to do didn’t change as much as maybe people would have thought."
UW’s offense started the game slow, turning the ball over three times early on, but picked it up with a 26-point second half in the Badgers’ 33-24 victory.
Tight end Zander Neuville said Fumagalli tweaked something during UW’s bye and was trying to manage the injury the best he could this week. Chryst said Fumagalli practiced some throughout the week, and the Badgers didn’t know if they’d be without their top receiving target until Friday night.
Chryst said he thought Fumagalli had a good chance to play Saturday before he was ruled out but couldn’t confirm if he’d be available next week at Nebraska.
"Troy’s obviously a great player, so we definitely want to have him back as soon as possible,” Neuville said. "He’s just a playmaker. I’m confident he’ll be back next week."
Dooley terrorizes Thorson
UW recorded eight sacks Saturday, but no player seemed to be in the backfield more than outside linebacker Garret Dooley, who recorded three of those sacks along with 4.5 tackles for loss.
“It’s just something that we’ve emphasized over the last two weeks, getting after the quarterback,” Dooley said. “Our coaches did a really good job of dialing up new pressures we haven’t done and those hit home today."
The senior combined with safety D’Cota Dixon for a first-quarter sack and teamed up with safety Natrell Jamerson to tackle Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson for a seven-yard loss on third down late in the third quarter.
His final two sacks came on back-to-back drives in the fourth quarter — the first of which led to a pick-six by Jamerson two plays later that gave the Badgers a 31-10 lead.
“I bet you go back and look at that film, there is not one play that just one guy does,” Chyrst said. “… A lot of those sacks there was as good rush from a number of guys, and maybe it turns it one way or the other, but it was fun to see (Dooley) have that, and it’s always good to get the production."
Deiter’s ankle still not 100 percent
UW left tackle Michael Deiter did post-game interviews with ice taped around his right ankle.
Dieter suffered an injury to that ankle at BYU two weeks ago but finished the game. The junior admitted after Saturday’s game that the ankle bothered him a bit against Northwestern.
“I thought it felt pretty good for most of the game,” Deiter said. “Towards the end it got a little sore."
Dietzen returns, rotates with Kapoi
After sitting out the Badgers’ game at BYU with a right leg injury, UW left guard Jon Dietzen started Saturday against Northwestern.
Dietzen said he feels healthy, but the sophomore still rotated with Micah Kapoi throughout the game.
"Nobody’s 100 percent. It’s football,” Dietzen said. "But I’d say I’m feeling as good as everybody else.
“Micah’s been doing a heck of a job in practice. Took a ton of reps when I couldn’t. It’s just kind of one of those things, you can’t deny a guy who’s working that hard and doing such a good job."
Kickoff specialist P.J. Rosowski (right leg) missed his third straight game Saturday. Replacement Zach Hintze sent all six of his kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks. … Running back Taiwan Deal has been out with a right leg injury since fall camp but dressed against Northwestern. He ultimately did not play against the Wildcats.