The University of Wisconsin football team could be desperately thin on the offensive line when the Badgers travel to BYU this weekend for their first road game of the season.
Starting guards Beau Benzschawel and Jon Dietzen are both questionable for Saturday’s game against the Cougars with right leg injuries, leaving UW to potentially dig deeper into its reserves at the position against an opponent with a solid defensive front.
“It’ll be probably this way at different position groups at different times,” UW coach Paul Chryst said. "We’ll see how Beau and Jon progress this week, and certainly you’ve got to keep working with and developing, whether it’s (Jason Erdmann) or whoever it may be that has to go, make sure they’re ready and confident in what we’re doing and in themselves to help our team."
Junior Micah Kapoi, who replaced Benzschawel in the second quarter of last week’s game against Florida Atlantic, has plenty of experience and would be the first to replace either starter. He’s capable of playing both left and right guard.
If both Benzschawel and Dietzen are out, however, that would likely force Erdmann into the lineup, a sophomore with very little experience.
“I think it’ll be tough to replace those guys if they can’t go,” UW left tackle Michael Deiter said. "There’s still a lot of time left. We’ll see what develops. But I think we’ve got guys who can go in and play just as good as they have. I think (Erdmann) could be a guy that goes in and plays. He just doesn’t have the experience. Micah, we have total confidence in him. I think we have the answers if they’re not ready to go."
Deiter, arguably UW’s best lineman, started 27 games at guard and center before moving to left tackle this fall.
The Badgers could choose to move him back to guard and bring in redshirt freshman Cole Van Lanen at left tackle, or move Deiter to guard, right tackle David Edwards to the left side and insert redshirt freshman Patrick Kasl at right tackle.
"A lot of those guys are so versatile,” UW tight end Troy Fumagalli said. "Michael’s played so many spots. Micah’s playing and can roll over (to either guard spot). I think we’re just switching those guys around, and they’ve just done a great job of responding to that and knowing all the spots."
For now, though, it appears UW will do everything to prepare Erdmann this week during practice. The Badgers have a bye next week, affording their injured players extra time to heal.
Pryor fully cleared
Chryst said that wide receiver Kendric Pryor is now fully cleared to play, and the redshirt freshman did not appear on UW’s preliminary injury report Monday.
Pryor suffered facial injuries after a moped accident during the early portions of fall camp. Chryst said he’s unsure if Pryor will travel with the team to BYU this weekend.
“I thought KP was having a really good camp,” Chryst said. "Last week, he was really able to start going non-contact, but at the receiver position was able to get a lot of routes in. The conditioning was as much as any part of it that he had to get back, so I’m anxious to see how much more he can do this week than last.
"It’ll be good to get him going because I thought he was playing with confidence. I thought he was in a position to help us, not just on offense but certain areas on special teams. With him fully cleared now, don’t know how fast it’ll come, but I’m looking forward to it. I know he’s anxious to get going, too."
Taylor earns Big Ten honors
The Big Ten awarded UW true freshman running back Jonathan Taylor with the conference’s Co-Offensive Player of the Week and Freshman of the Week honors.
Taylor rushed for 223 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries in the Badgers’ 31-14 victory over Florida Atlantic on Saturday. He also led UW in rushing against Utah State the previous week, finishing with 87 yards and a touchdown on just nine attempts.
Taylor currently leads the Big Ten in rushing yards (310) and is tied with Minnesota’s Shannon Brooks for most rushing touchdowns (four).
From the infirmary
Running back Bradrick Shaw (right leg) remains questionable this week after missing UW’s game against FAU. Kickoff specialists P.J. Rosowski (right leg) and safety Patrick Johnson (left arm) are also questionable.
Defensive end Chikwe Obasih (left leg), running back Taiwan Deal (right leg), wide receiver George Rushing (left leg) and fullback Jake Whalen (head) all remain out and are not expected to play at BYU.