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Wisconsin fullback Derek Watt will return after missing the last five games.
MADISON - The injury news for the University of Wisconsin was very good on Thursday.
UW coach Gary Andersen told reporters that not only will they get nose guard Warren Herring back, but they will also have fullback Derek Watt when they take on Maryland (5-2, 2-1) this Saturday.
Neither has played since the season opener against LSU. Despite that, Andersen said fans should expect to see plenty of both on the field for the Badgers (4-2, 1-1).
“For both of those kids,” the second-year coach said, “there is no limitations on the amount of snaps that they can take.
“They’re not in perfect football shape, but they should be good enough to get a pretty good amount of reps, I’d say.”
Herring’s return is not a surprise. The senior suffered a knee injury against the Tigers on the final play of the third quarter. He had surgery to repair the medial collateral ligament in his right knee the following week. The initial recovery time was four to six weeks but it ended up being a little less than eight.
The return of Watt is a little more surprising. He suffered a broken foot in the opener and underwent surgery the following week. UW officials originally said he wouldn’t be back until some point in November but somewhere along the line, that changed.
“This is the timeframe I expected for about the last couple weeks at least, I would say,” Andersen said. “As I said at the beginning of the week, I was very optimistic that he would play and he will.”
Watt was replaced by redshirt freshman Austin Ramesh, who struggled in his first start against Western Illinois, but has since been a big part of UW’s rushing success that has them ranked No. 2 in the nation at 343 yards per game. Still, Watt is one of the best fullbacks in the country and should be a boost for the offense.
“Experience,” Andersen said of what Watt brings to the table. “He’s been in this moment. He’s proven to be a very good fullback. He’s a weapon. The blocking is a weapon and obviously catching the ball, and he’s shown that.”
Andersen said the return of Watt is good not only for the football team but for the player himself. It’s unclear if he’ll only play fullback against Maryland or whether he’ll have some H-Back reps as well.
Wisconsin will also have inside linebacker Marcus Trotter back after he missed the Illinois game and much of the Northwestern game with a groin injury. And safety Lubern Figaro should also return from an ankle injury that kept him out of the Illinois game.
McEvoy a quarterback only
Quarterback Joel Stave will likely get the start on Saturday for Wisconsin but Tanner McEvoy will play. And he’ll play more than he did against Illinois.
On Tuesday, offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig said the junior will see more than the one series he played in the last game, though he didn’t have a specific target in mind. On Thursday, Andersen also didn’t have a take on how much or when McEvoy might get in.
“I would think a lot of that has to do with the flow of the game but I would expect him to play definitely more than one series,” Andersen said.
Much of the talk outside the program has been the possibility of moving McEvoy to wide receiver, even if only for specific plays or packages. That won’t be happening against the Terrapins.
“Not this week,” Andersen said. “He’ll be a quarterback and a quarterback only.”