Star linebacker Cichy out for year, defense looks to adjust to loss
As the Badgers gear up for the start of their season and their first game against the Utah State Aggies, they’ll be without one of their key veterans—star linebacker Jack Cichy. Cichy, who sustained a torn ACL on Aug. 10 during a practice, is now out for the season.
"You hate it for Jack," head coach Paul Chryst stated in a press release. "You only get so many chances to play this game, and you never want to see a guy miss any of those opportunities. He's one of the leaders of our team, and I know he'll be a big part of what we do moving forward this season."
The loss comes as a tough blow to one of the projected top defenses in the nation, having reached its prominence last season through the help of Cichy’s leadership. The former walk-on turned team captain was a bonafide superstar last season, having made 60 tackles in only seven starts. He recorded 8.57 tackles per game, nearly two more than the second place performer on the team, T.J. Edwards. More important than the statistics, however, were Cichy’s intangibles as a leader. No matter the situation, number 48 always seemed to perform even better under the biggest lights. Against the Ohio State Buckeyes on Oct. 15, Cichy made a season-high 15 tackles, and recorded a sack. When the Badgers faced off against Michigan on Oct. 1, Cichy recorded 12 stops against the formidable Wolverine offense. At the end of the season, Cichy was rewarded for his herculean on-field performances by being named a Butkus Award semifinalist for best linebacker in the country.
The Badgers’ inside linebackers still remain the centerpiece of their defense, and will still have to perform at a high level, despite losing Cichy. In order to continue to compete as one of the best linebacking corps in the country, the Badgers will have to remain extra focused on making sure everything Cichy did on the field is replicated as much as possible. Cichy’s spot on the inside looks to be filled by Chris Orr, with Edwards looking to continue his solid play from last season at the other inside linebacker spot. Although the loss of Cichy is tough, the Badgers are prepared, having dealt with various injuries to their linebackers throughout the past few seasons, including one from Cichy toward the end of last season.
The Wisconsin defense will also look to get a boost from its secondary, with senior cornerback Derrick Tindal having improved and looking confident to start the season. Alongside Tindal, Hawaii transfer Nick Nelson brings previous Division I experience that gives the Badgers one of the best cornerback duos in the Big 10.
As to how Cichy’s absence will affect the defense in game one, look for Utah State to try and attack the middle of the field. Either through their run game or throwing quick slants, the Aggies will be looking to expose the interior of the Badgers defense. The Badgers, expecting this, will most likely stack up on the interior and trust their new cornerback duo to get things done on the outside.