Out of the 148 plays from Saturday night’s thriller against Ohio State, one play in particular sticks out to University of Wisconsin redshirt junior and inside linebacker Jack Cichy.
Cichy, who was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week on Monday, recorded 15 tackles during Wisconsin’s 30-23 overtime loss, but it was the one that got away that haunted him 36 hours later.
With 14:15 remaining in the game and the No. 10 Badgers (4-2, 0-2 Big Ten) leading 16-13 on 3rd-and-6 from the UW 8, Buckeye quarterback J.T. Barrett took a shotgun snap. A defensive stop most likely would have held OSU to a field goal, resulting in a tie.
The opening seconds of the play looked promising for the Badgers. Cichy used his unique skill of timing the snap to generate a running start, and flew toward Barrett untouched. It was a designed draw for Barrett, who slipped away from a charging Cichy, who could only muster a flailing arm toward Barrett. Barrett then scampered for the right pylon and scored, putting the Buckeyes up 20-16.
Cichy said Monday that he read the play early but got too excited, leading to his over-pursuit.
“[Barrett]’s an athlete,” Cichy said. “He’s going to make those plays. As far as what I could’ve done better, is that I kind of came in too hot. I came in too high. I kind of got away from myself there. I wasn’t really in control.”
The play before, Cichy read the read-option perfectly, dropping Barrett by the ankles for no-gain to force that third down.
The play put a damper on an otherwise outstanding night for Cichy, who finished with a career-high in tackles, a sack, 3.5 tackles for loss and forced a fumble.
Out of the 74 times redshirt freshman quarterback Alex Hornibrook received a snap on Saturday night, the most important exchange was his final one. What happened immediately after that, however, was not the plan.
Facing 4th-and-goal from the four-yard line in the first overtime needing a score, Hornibrook dropped back only to go down in the backfield among a sea of charging white jerseys who had barreled through the UW offensive line.
The Buckeye sideline then spilled onto the field in celebration.
“I knew we needed to get the ball off and that that was our only chance,” Hornibrook said. “I guess in that situation I could’ve retreated, gave up some ground and put it up in the end zone or just found a way to get that ball off.”
UW head coach Paul Chryst agreed with Hornibrook in that he should have at least thrown the ball, but wished he had a cleaner pocket to deliver a game-tying pass.
“It was on him faster than we would have liked,” Chryst said. “His point is still right. You do have to give it a chance, but like a lot these things, easier said than done. It’s a learning experience we all can learn from.”
No drop in polls
Chryst isn’t one to care much about his team’s position in polls, so Wisconsin remaining at No. 10 in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll and falling two spots to No. 10 in the AP Poll meant little to him.
Chryst said, however, it’s nice to be recognized, though it doesn’t really mean anything.
“I’m very appreciative of the program and where we’re at nationally,” Chryst said. “We don’t need it to validate who we are.”
Wisconsin is the only top 10 team in the country with two losses. Those two losses have come against the No. 2 and No. 4 teams in Ohio State and Michigan, respectively, by a combined 14 points.
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From the trainer’s room
UW released an extensive injury report for Saturday’s game at Iowa (11 a.m., ESPN). Listed as questionable were Vince Biegel (foot), Taiwan Deal (right leg), Keelon Brookins (left leg), Rob Wheelwright (right leg), Olive Sagapolu (right arm), Jon Dietzen (right leg) and Zack Baun (right leg).
Biegel, who underwent surgery for a cracked foot Sept. 29, is listed as the starter at outside linebacker. Every other player listed questionable, except for Dietzen, is listed in their normal spots on the depth cart.
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Chryst said Biegel’s availability for Saturday will depend on this week and that he sees more energy and excitement rather than anxiousness from Biegel leading up to his return. Chryst added the two games Biegel has missed has obviously bothered him a lot.
“As far as chances, we’ll see how the week goes,” Chryst said. “Vince loves playing the game. He really in all the right ways cares about this team. That’s been the sting for him.”
Biegel was still in a walking boot on his right foot as of Monday morning.
Cichy said Biegel has been taking his rehab one day at a time.
“When he’s ready, he’ll be back, and it’ll be exciting to unleash him again, whenever that is,” he said.
Junior cornerback Natrell Jamerson will still be out this week. His rehab is on schedule, according to Chryst.