Last Updated: 2017-11-10
The Wisconsin Badgers commenced the football season with a number of defensive setbacks. However, it might be the loss of one of their offensive weapons that might keep the Badgers out of College Football Playoff contention.
On Thursday, head coach Paul Chryst announced that wide receiver Quintez Cephus will miss the rest of the season with a right leg injury. Cephus underwent surgery on the leg and should be able to make a full recovery next season. Cephus, a sophomore, competed in all nine games, and leads the Badgers with 30 receptions for 501 yards and 6 touchdowns. As a result, the Badgers are in dire need to find a replacement for the smooth playmaker.
As we’ve seen with the linebackers for the Badgers, it’s always been next man up. No matter how many injuries, they just keep coming back stronger. Unfortunately, there’s a different feel to the Badgers’ offense right now. Although they are averaging 36 points per game, the offense has never really been the main attraction.
Quarterback Alex Hornibrook is completing 64 percent of his pass attempts this season. He also has thrown for 1,728 yards, 15 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. Clearly, the Badgers aren’t a prolific passing outfit, yet, they a staring down double digit interceptions with one more miscue by Hornibrook. Hopefully, one of the backup receivers can replace Cephus’ production.
A.J. Taylor and Danny Davis have combined for 22 receptions and 3 touchdowns. They will get an opportunity to really help out the passing game. Another important piece of information is the status of Jazz Peavy. He has only participated in four games and has missed every play since injuring his ankle against the Nebraska Cornhuskers early-on. Last season, Peavy excelled in the Badgers’ run-heavy offense catching 43 passes. He also averaged over 15 yards per rush with a number of jet sweeps. Unfortunately, that hasn’t really been part of the Badgers’ offense lately.
However, they found a player to increase their wide receiver run-game. It just happens to be running back Jonathan Taylor. He actually scored on a sweep during the 45-17 victory over the Indiana Hoosiers.
The loss of Cephus may also create more opportunities for tight end Troy Fumagalli. He is tied with Cephus’ 30 receptions. Fumagalli is also second on the team with 401 yards and 3 touchdown catches. Whether or not he sees increased production, the Badgers need to find more ways to move the ball in November. Keep in mind, only three players have double-digit receptions and their best two wide receivers won’t be in uniform for the foreseeable future. That alone may hurt the perception of the Badgers with the College Football Playoff selection committee.
Despite the loss, the Badgers are still 12 point favorites over the Hawkeyes on Saturday night. The line started at over 13 point favorites. Therefore, it won’t be surprising to see the point spread continue to drop before Saturday’s kickoff.