Their routine on the night before games is to hang out in the hotel room and watch movies, but Danny Davis and Jazz Peavy always find a way to mix in some business while they’re relaxing.
It typically comes in the form of questions from a rookie in the wide receiving corps on the University of Wisconsin football team to the group’s most experienced member. Peavy, a fifth-year senior, always has an answer for the freshman Davis.
“He breaks it down for me and tells me everything,” Davis said. “Great leader. I love Jazz, he’s a great guy.”
Davis offered the anecdote as evidence of how his first season at UW has been made easier by Peavy. It’s a reminder that production to a team can’t always be measured in numbers.
From an individual standpoint, Peavy’s final season with the No. 9 Badgers hasn’t gone the way he and others envisioned. The Kenosha native has five catches for 55 yards through four games as UW (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) prepares for a game at Nebraska (3-2, 2-0) on Saturday night.
If Peavy is frustrated, he’s not showing it.
“I knew we had a lot of weapons in this offense, I knew guys were going to get the ball,” he said earlier this week. “It’s awesome and exciting to see everyone making plays and making touchdowns. Having an offense like this, this is what we’ve been wanting and asking for and working for and we got it.”
Peavy went from 20 catches for 268 yards as a sophomore to 43 for 635 yards last season. He led the team in both receiving yards and touchdown receptions (five) during a breakthrough season and it was only natural to project bigger numbers for Peavy as a senior.
Instead, the distribution in UW’s passing game has been spread around.
Senior tight end Troy Fumagalli leads the team with 15 catches for 236 yards despite missing a victory over Northwestern last week with a hamstring injury.
Sophomore wide receiver Quintez Cephus is next with 14 catches for 233 yards. Two other underclassman wide receivers — sophomore A.J. Taylor (7-105) and Davis (6-152) — have put up better numbers than Peavy.
“Jazz is obviously a guy who can still make plays, and he’s going to make a lot of plays for us,” UW sophomore quarterback Alex Hornibrook said. “I’m kind of surprised too that he’s not getting the ball as much. Obviously, I’m the one doing it, so I shouldn’t be surprised. But, no, I think he’s going to make some plays for us, and obviously there are a lot of guys that can make plays, so the ball’s going to be spread around a little bit.”
Peavy had a chance to get going early in the 33-24 victory over visiting Northwestern a week ago, but he fumbled after making a catch on the opening play from scrimmage. Northwestern’s Trae Williams stripped Peavy and recovered at the UW 24, a turnover that led to a field goal.
By this point last season, Peavy had 16 catches for 274 yards and two touchdowns. But he said the fumble wasn’t a result of trying too hard to make something happen and shake out of his early season slump.
“Bad technique,” Peavy said of the fumble. “I had the ball in the wrong hand and it was loose and got away from my body and got popped out.
“It wasn’t anything with nerves or anything like that. It was just the wrong hand, wrong placement.”
Both UW coach Paul Chryst and offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph downplayed Peavy’s slow start to the season.
“Things will go his way,” Rudolph said. “They have a way of circling back around. He’s working the right way. There’s no feeling that he isn’t a big part of this still.”
Peavy, for his part, appears genuinely happy that Cephus and the other young receivers are making such a big impact so early in their careers.
“We’re winning games, that’s the biggest thing for me,” Peavy said. “I’m just trying to embrace every moment with my last year and have fun with it.”
Davis wasn’t surprised to hear Peavy was more concerned about the team than his individual numbers.
“That’s real,” Davis said. “That’s how he really feels. That’s Jazz for you. Maybe he doesn’t feel like he’s done enough, but it’s early.
“We know when his number is called, he’s going to be there. That’s the great thing about Jazz.”
Fumagalli and defensive end Isaiahh Loudermilk are listed as questionable for Saturday night’s game. Chryst said both practiced this week, an encouraging sign for their availability vs. the Cornhuskers.
Loudermillk was added to the injury report Thursday with a right leg injury. If he can’t play, UW would be thin at defensive end, as senior Chikwe Obasih expects to miss his fourth straight game.
Kickoff specialist P.J. Rosowski (right leg), who has missed the past three games, remains questionable, while running back Taiwan Deal (right leg) was downgraded to out after being listed as questionable earlier in the week.