In the best game of his career as a member of the University of Wisconsin football team, Troy Fumagalli lowered his shoulder and flattened a Louisiana State University defender like a fly on a windshield.
The gain was part of the redshirt junior tight end’s afternoon of career-highs in receptions (seven) and receiving yards (100). The play also served as an example of Fumagalli’s physicality and affinity for contact.
“I liked the way he competed in the game,” UW offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph said Tuesday. “Defenses work to take certain things away. He took advantage of opportunities which was huge. He played the game with detail.”
Fumagalli was key on Wisconsin’s first drive of the second half, when he streaked down the left seam and hauled in a pass from quarterback Bart Houston for 27 yards before tumbling at the LSU 31-yard line. The Badgers’ lone touchdown of Saturday came on that drive.
Houston targeted Fumagalli a few times on screen passes, which opened up because of UW’s power running game, Fumagalli said. Those completions yielded a great deal of room for Fumagalli to then attack open field with a usually smaller defensive back awaiting him, meaning he could lower his shoulder and truck for extra yards.
“It felt good,” Fumagalli said. “Just trying to make a play I guess. You don’t really think on the field you just try to react, that’s kind of what I did … I’m not as fast as those guys, maybe I got to use my size.”
Fumagalli also credited his success to an established comfort-level with Houston. The two worked together as second-stringers last season, where Fumagalli finished with 313 total receiving yards on 28 catches.
As a focal piece in the passing game, Fumagalli has a chance to follow in the footsteps of UW tight ends like Jacob Pedersen, Lance Kendricks and Owen Daniels. He said he watches film of those players and that it “would be very special” to be the next heralded tight end.
Fumagalli’s pass-catching skills earned him playing time early in his career when he took over starting duties after Austin Traylor missed extended time last season. What held him back then was his run-blocking abilities, but Fumagalli says he’s worked hard to be on the field every down.
“[I’m] putting a great pride on the run game and how important it is, understanding that if you work hard on the run game, it opens up some passes and vice versa,” Fumagalli said.
Rudolph also noticed Fumagalli’s improvement in the blocking scheme.
“I thought he did a nice job in the game,” Rudolph said. “I
thought he took a step [forward].”