MADISON — Wisconsin inside linebacker Jack Cichy will miss the rest of the 2016 season due to a torn pectoral, UW announced on Monday. Cichy leads the team in tackles with 60 to this point.
Cichy, who injured his shoulder against Iowa on Saturday, becomes the Badgers’ second inside linebacker to be done for the season. During the team’s opener against LSU, Chris Orr tore his ACL and will not return in 2016.
With Cichy’s injury, Ryan Connelly and Leon Jacobs will likely be asked to do more for the Badgers. Outside linebacker and captain Vince Biegel said the defense has confidence in both the men to take the place of Cichy and make plays. Both have game time experience with Connelly starting for the previously injured T.J. Edwards against LSU at the start of the season. On the official depth chart, both are listed as potential candidates for the starting role on Saturday alongside T.J. Edwards.
Safety Leo Musso said the ‘next man up’ mentality is something the Wisconsin defense has shown multiple times throughout the season.
“I think we really just have a bunch of guys that embody what Wisconsin is all about. That’s smart, tough and dependable,” Musso said. ” I think more than anything we are a group of guys that have fun playing with one another and how much focus we have going throughout the week, our preparation and everything. That’s a product of what everyone sees on Saturday.”
Despite having capable players in either Connelly or Jacobs to step up this week against Nebraska, losing Cichy means losing a dominant voice on the Wisconsin defense. Musso compared Cichy to Biegel in his ability to get the team going throughout a game.
“You know how much time he puts in and you know how much he truly cares about this team. It’s tough from that aspect,” Musso said.
Cichy showed his immeasurable toughness when he came out in the second half and basically played with one arm. That toughness, is something Musso says, “as a football player that’s something you pride yourself on.”
“It’s truly pretty remarkable that he came back out and did that and he wasn’t doing that for himself. He was doing that for the team.”
The team as a whole feels the sting of another injured player. Running back Dare Ogunbowale, a good friend of Cichy, said, “It’s tough to see someone I’m really close with get his season shortened.”
Quarterback Alex Hornibrook said, “He’s going to be missed. He’s a great player. We love having him there as a focal point of our defense and our team. We’ve got to have somebody to fill his void on the defense.”
Head coach Paul Chryst was impressed with Cichy’s strength on Saturday, fighting through the injury to keep playing. According to Chryst, Cichy did not further injure himself by playing in the second half.
“He put it all out there,” Chryst said.
On Monday, defensive players Musso and Biegel wore ‘Got Grit’ shirts that the team received. “Grit is something that is important, and I think there’s a lot of guys on this team on this team that have it,” he said. Undoubtedly Cichy is one of those players, and the biggest disappointment is that he will be unable to have more opportunities this season to showcase that.
“He’s still a big impact on our team. He’s still part of the team. I loved the way he played, and he’ll come back,” Chryst said.