Jim Sorgi’s body would like to forget the last two Saturdays.
Rendered literally speechless by a wrestling-like chokehold in the 3rd quarter against Ohio State, he was forced to watch from the sidelines back-up Matt Schabert’s heroic game-winning touchdown bomb to Lee Evans.
He returned for the Purdue game last Saturday, but left once again in the 3rd quarter, this time due to a knee injury he suffered after getting pinned down following a scramble. Schabert came in once again, but this time he couldn’t produce the same magic, as the Badgers (3-1 Big Ten, 6-2 overall) dropped their first conference game.
And now they’ll be without their senior quarterback for this Saturday’s contest at Northwestern. Sorgi underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Sunday, a knee that has bothered him in the past.
“Jim had surgery yesterday,” head coach Barry Alvarez said at Monday’s news conference. “We were really going to do it after (the Northwestern) game anyhow, during the open date. We think he’ll be back for the last three games.”
With Sorgi not listed on the depth chart, Saturday’s duties fall solely to the junior Schabert, with freshman Jon Stocco and sophomore quarterback-turned-receiver Owen Daniels waiting in the wings in case of further catastrophe. Alvarez will not, however, be taking the redshirt off freshman Tyler Donovan.
But Alvarez remains confident. Much like Sorgi, who had some experience before making a start, Schabert has nine career appearances, and even a flair for the dramatic despite never getting the nod as a starter.
His touchdown pass to beat the Buckeyes was maybe the biggest in Camp Randall history, and his first career completion was a 70-yard touchdown to Evans two seasons ago against Michigan State on homecoming.
“I think Matt is the first one to tell you he’s matured over the years,” Alvarez said. “He’s very bright. I think he knows his limitations, he always knows where to go with the ball. I think he does an excellent job of managing the game and understanding the game, understanding what people are trying to do. I feel real good about him going in.”
Schabert, a native of Elgin, Ill., added that he’s excited about getting his first start so close to home and that he’s preparing more than ever.
“When you know you’re going to be a starter, you put in a little more time, you’re a little more focused on the task at hand,” he said. “This week, there’s 10 guys out on the field with me and a whole bunch on the sidelines that are expecting me to play well.”
As for Sorgi, Alvarez is confident he’ll only miss this Saturday’s game. Fortunately, the Badgers have a bye week before heading to Minnesota. In fact, Alvarez has been the recipient of several knee surgeries himself, and he says recovery time is often very short.
“Having gone through several arthroscopic surgeries, you can walk out of there,” he said. “I think the last arthroscopic surgery I had on a meniscus, I believe I walked out of the hospital. It’s not that big a deal anymore.”
Alex Lewis earns Big Ten honor
Senior linebacker Alex Lewis was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week after his performance last Saturday against Purdue, the conference announced Monday. He registered nine total tackles, including six-and-a-half for a loss, as well as five sacks in the defeat.
Alvarez said he would continue to use Lewis as a rushing end in passing situations, especially to spell the defensive line, already thin due to the loss of Erasmus James for the season.
“We’ll use him in nickel,” Alvarez said. “Just to give us a little more push there, and I think he probably feels a little more comfortable with it now with repetitions. It’s another way to spell our defensive linemen.”
Lewis now has a team-high six sacks, as well as two blocked punts. He’s second on the team with 54 total tackles, behind only Jeff Mack.