As soon as he lost a first-team spot on the University of Wisconsin’s offensive line, Micah Kapoi may have picked up another one.
Jon Deitzen replaced the junior in the starting lineup at left guard in the Badgers’ 31-10 victory over Florida Atlantic on Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium, but Kapoi took Beau Benzschawel’s spot at right guard after Benzschawel suffered a right leg injury early in the second quarter.
“That’s something that I think is really impressive about Micah,” Dietzen said. “Not every single week is he going to be taking reps at right guard, but as soon as (offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph) lets him know that he’s got to take reps at right guard, he can do it. That’s really impressive to me."
Paul Chryst said after the game that he hadn’t received a substantial update from UW’s medical staff and doesn’t know the severity of Benzschawel’s injury.
Benzschawel, in his third year as a starter, earned first-team preseason All-American honors from USA Today in August.
Kapoi, however, gives the Badgers solid depth at both guard spots, something they may not have at tackle. Although he’s battled Dietzen at left guard throughout fall camp, he said he felt comfortable shifting to the other side on a moment’s notice Saturday.
"Coach tells us every week that we need everybody,” Kapoi said. "He preaches that every game, especially with people going down. We take what he says to heart, and all of us from top to bottom prepare like we’re going to start each game. I think it was an easy transition for me."
Dietzen said switching from one guard spot to another isn’t as easy as it seems and lauded Kapoi’s ability to fill in at both spots.
“It’s pretty difficult,” Dietzen said. "Some people might not think it is, you just switch everything. But it’s a big deal to switch everything. Your body mechanics start to get used to a certain position. I know for me, I came in at right guard and got switched to left, and that switch really messed with me, so the fact that Micah can keep bouncing around like that is awesome."
Florida Atlantic coach Lane Kiffin said he didn’t think Saturday’s game would be played at one point earlier this week as Hurricane Irma made its way toward Florida.
“We didn’t know if we were coming,” Kiffin said. “At one point, I thought we weren’t coming. Our players didn’t want to come because there’s a lot of players not wanting to leave their families. You’ve got kids coming into the office saying, ‘Coach, I know it’s a football game, but I’m really the only one to take care of my grandma. We don’t know what’s coming.’
“But there was a decision made to come play, so with all of those distractions I thought the guys stayed together in a difficult situation.”
Florida natives on UW’s roster are also keeping an eye on the Hurricane’s path. Senior cornerback Derrick Tindal, who is from Fort Lauderdale, said he’s worried for his family. So is senior safety Natrell Jamerson, who grew up much further north of Tindal in Ocala.
“They’re not as worried as I am,” Jamerson said of his family members.
“We’ve been through a few hurricanes before, so we know how to handle it. But of course, this one is supposed to be way bigger than the ones in the past.”
Hintze handles kickoffs
UW kickoff specialist P.J. Rosowski pulled his quad Thursday, leaving sophomore Zach Hintze to fill in.
In his first career game, Hintze sent four of his six kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks. The other two were placed inside the 5-yard line, and both ensuing returns were stopped before the 25.
He said the only kick he was unhappy with came on one of the touchbacks, when the ball sailed too close to the sideline and wasn’t far from going out of bounds.
“It was my first collegiate game, so I was going to be nervous a little bit,” Hintze said. "But after the first one, it turned into a habit.
“We’re hoping that (Rosowski) gets back. We don’t want anybody to get hurt. If (he’s out) next week, I’ve got to stay ready."
Alex Hornibrook’s interception in the second quarter Saturday was the first by a UW quarterback since a game against Nebraska on Oct. 29 of last year. … Chris Orr started at inside linebacker in place of Ryan Connelly. … Sophomore safety Patrick Johnson suffered a left arm injury Saturday and did not return.