Wisconsin senior outside linebacker Vince Biegel, the Badgers’ most experienced linebacker and a team captain, is expected to be sidelined several weeks after suffering a broken foot.
A source close to the program confirmed Biegel’s injury Thursday night. Biegel underwent surgery to put a screw in his foot.
The 8th ranked Badgers (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) face 4th ranked Michigan (4-0, 1-0) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Ann Arbor.
Wisconsin defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox appears to have several options to compensate for the loss of Biegel.
One move would be to move redshirt freshman Zack Baun, Biegel’s backup, into the starting lineup opposite T.J. Watt.
Baun has been a standout on special teams. He has six total tackles, including two for loss.
That would leave Leon Jacobs as the third inside linebacker. Jacobs started the season at fullback but moved back to defense after sophomore Chris Orr suffered a season-ending knee injury in the opener against LSU.
Biegel and Watt have been able to make plays against the run and pressure opposing quarterbacks through four games.
Watt leads Wisconsin in sacks (4½) and tackles for loss (5½) and is second in total tackles (18).
Biegel, a third-team all-Big Ten pick last season, has nine tackles, including two for loss, and two hurries. His pressure against LSU quarterback Brandon Harris resulted in the victory-clinching interception in the opener.
Cichy started out at outside linebacker last season but moved inside after UW lost Jacobs and Orr to injuries. Cichy started four games and played in all 13 and finished with 60 tackles.
He has started all four games at inside linebacker this season and leads Wisconsin in tackles with 23.
Connelly was thrust into the lineup this season after Orr went down against LSU on UW’s first defensive play.
Connelly stopped tailback Leonard Fournette on his first play, brought Fournette down on a critical third-down screen play in the fourth quarter and finished with seven tackles in UW’s 16-14 victory.
“I just saw him mature very fast,” Cichy said after the opener. “When he pins his ears back and he lets loose, he is one of the best. He is vicious. He is tenacious. He is fast. And he is very physical. As each series went on and we’d go back to the bench and kind of recap what happened, I saw him get more mature and more comfortable in there. That was fun to see.”
Connelly started in place of Orr in Week 2 against Akron but went back to a reserve role in Week 3 against Georgia State when redshirt sophomore T.J. Edwards returned to the starting lineup.
Edwards missed the opener after a suffering a broken left foot during summer workouts. He has recorded 17 tackles, the number 3 mark on the team, in three games
The loss of Biegel is another in a run of injuries UW has endured so far.
Edwards was the first player to go down, followed by Orr and then nickel cornerback Natrell Jamerson, who suffered a broken fibula in Week 3 against Georgia State.
UW officials announced on Thursday that kicker Rafael Gaglianone, 7 of 8 on field-goal attempts through three games, would miss the rest of the season after undergoing back surgery.