Badgers lose receiver Cephus for season
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
MADISON--Wisconsin will be without sophomore wide receiver Quintez Cephus for the remainder of the season.
Cephus, who suffered an ugly right-leg injury early in the third quarter last week at Indiana, underwent surgery earlier this week and on Thursday was declared out for the season. UW did not disclose the specific nature of the injury.
“Monday he had an appointment and Tuesday they were able to get him in for surgery,” UW coach Paul Chryst said after practice Thursday. “For every player who misses (time) you feel bad for them.
“Q will bounce back.”
Cephus caught two passes for 24 yards and a touchdown before suffering the injury. He is tied for the team lead with tight end Troy Fumagalli in catches (30), leads the team in receiving yards (501) and touchdown catches (six).
With Cephus gone, UW’s top three wide receivers are sophomore A.J. Taylor (14 catches, 231 yards, two TDs), freshman Danny Davis (8-170-1) and redshirt freshman Kendric Pryor (6-80-0).
UW will also be without linebacker Chris Orr (left leg) on Saturday against Iowa. Safety D’Cota Dixon (right leg), defensive end Isaiahh Loudermilk (left knee), tailback Chris James (left leg) and defensive lineman Garrett Rand (left foot) are questionable.
Dixon practiced Thursday. Loudermilk, who has missed the last three games, has worked all week.
The No. 1 goal for Wisconsin’s defense against Iowa isn’t classified information.
UW hopes to contain Iowa’s ground game, make the Hawkeyes one-dimensional and get after quarterback Nate Stanley.
The No. 2 task? Containing tight ends Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson.
“I think they are both sneaky fast,” UW linebacker Ryan Connelly said. “That is the first thing I see on film. They both have great hands.”
Fant, a 6-foot-5, 232-pound sophomore, is second on the team in catches (23) and receiving yards (353) and leads the team in touchdown catches (seven). Fant has scored a touchdown this season every 3.3 catches.
Hockenson, a 6-5, 243-pound redshirt freshman, is fifth in catches (19) and receiving yards (272) and tied for third in touchdown catches (three).
They combined for nine catches for 124 yards and four touchdowns last week in Iowa’s 55-24 victory over Ohio State.
“They are dynamic in the pass game and they are also more than capable in the run game,” UW defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard said. “So anytime you have tight ends who are dual threats, when you’re running the ball well, everything seems to come off of that for this offense.”
Hockenson generally lines up in tight formations. Fant can line up in multiple spots and has the speed to get behind defensive backs on deep routes.
On his first touchdown against the Buckeyes, Fant lined up wide and ran a vertical route against a defensive back for a 25-catch in the right corner of the end zone.
On his second touchdown, Fant came in motion from left to right and ran a shallow route into the flat and was wide open for a 3-yard score.
“He is a very good athlete, extremely fast,” UW outside linebacker Garret Dooley said of Fant. “As outside linebackers, we have to try to be physical with him, try to beat him up at the line of scrimmage so maybe he is not running as crisp of routes and that will help the coverage down the field.
“If we’re lined up on him and he is going out for a pass and we give him a good hit…everything with offense is timing. So our goal is to disrupt that timing.”
Second chance for Sagapolu
Junior nose tackle Olive Sagapolu made his first start at UW in 2015 against the Hawkeyes.
Sagapolu didn’t play as well as he hoped. Iowa controlled the line of scrimmage enough to allow Jordan Canzeri to rush 26 times for 125 yards in a 10-6 Iowa victory.
He was out with a broken arm when the teams met last season and UW held Iowa to 83 rushing yards on 27 carries in a 17-9 victory.
“I was excited to get thrown into the mix but it taught me how to play in the Big Ten,” Sagapolu said of the game his freshman season. “Guys up front are bigger and they love to move. Over the past two years, I’ve taken care of my body and lifted—hard.”