MADISON — As the fifth-ranked University of Wisconsin football team prepares for Saturday’s Big Ten showdown against No. 19 Michigan, three starters remain either out or questionable for the 11 a.m. game at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.
The good news is that sophomore Jason Erdmann, forced to take his first career snaps at center Saturday when Tyler Biadasz was injured in the Badgers’ 38-14 victory over Iowa, made a smooth transition.
Biadasz, who injured his left leg late in the second quarter against the Hawkeyes and left the game early in the third quarter, is questionable for the Michigan game. Inside linebacker Chris Orr will miss his second straight game with a left leg injury and safety D’Cota Dixon (right leg) is questionable.
Even if Biadasz is unable to play, the Badgers don’t sound too worried.
“What was nice is he was on with who we needed to ID, and he really got everyone else on the same page,” UW left tackle Michael Deiter said of Erdmann’s play against Iowa. “I knew as an offensive lineman, he’d be able to block from center. I just didn’t know if he was going to be as clean as he was with getting everyone else on the same page.”
Erdmann, who said he learned both guard and center when he first arrived at UW in 2015, was sharing snaps at left guard with Jon Dietzen before Biadasz’s injury.
Deiter also has experience switching from guard to center midway through a game, having done so each of the past two seasons for the Badgers.
“It’s just knowing who you need to point and who you need the right guard and right tackle have their combo go to, stuff like that,” Deiter said. “You work all week as a guard and that’s not something you need to think about. … Going from guard to center in the middle of a game, you become the guy that directs the traffic and really gets everyone on the same page.”
Early departure for Deiter?
UW’s seniors will play their final home game Saturday, but it also could be the last time some of the Badgers’ underclassmen play at Camp Randall Stadium.
The Badgers have at least a few juniors who could declare early for the NFL Draft, including Deiter, inside linebacker T.J. Edwards and cornerback Nick Nelson. Right tackle David Edwards, a redshirt sophomore, could also have an opportunity to test the waters at the next level.
Deiter said that while he hasn’t thought about his future during the season, there’s a possibility Saturday could be his final home game.
“I would say it’s a little bit of a possibility, yeah,” Deiter said. “There’s a lot of time. My focus now is just the guys who are guaranteed that it’s their last game at Camp Randall, making sure we send them out on the right note.”
Deiter started 27 games at guard and center the past two seasons before moving to left tackle this fall. He likely projects as an interior lineman in the NFL.
Edwards was also asked about the possibly of Saturday being his final game at Camp Randall but said, “I’ve got one more year to do all that.”
Peavy, Rushing not expected to return soon
Senior wide receivers Jazz Peavy and George Rushing are not expected to return soon, UW coach Paul Chryst said.
“I don’t know. I don’t think so,” Chryst said when asked if there’s a timetable for the return of either player. “Both different reasons, but right now I don’t see it being soon.”
With just three weeks left before bowl season, the likelihood of either returning this year appears small.
Rushing injured his left leg during fall camp and has not played this season. Peavy was nursing a right leg injury before deciding to take time away from the team for personal reasons.
UW’s game at Minnesota next week will kick off at either 2:30 or 2:45 p.m. and be televised by ABC, ESPN or BTN. … Outside linebacker Leon Jacobs earned co-Defensive Player of the Week honors from the Big Ten, along with Iowa cornerback Josh Jackson. … Running back Jonathan Taylor won the Big Ten’s Freshman of the Week Award for the sixth time this season, tying him for the second-most in conference history.