Chase Wolf’s injury hinders No. 18 Wisconsin’s quarterback depth

Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/USA TODAY NETWORK

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin’s quarterback depth has taken a hit heading into the 18th-ranked Badgers’ season opener.

Backup quarterback Chase Wolf has injured his right leg and is out for an indefinite length of time. That leaves starter Graham Mertz as the only available Wisconsin quarterback who has taken a snap in a college game.

Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said the injury happened last week and indicated he doesn’t know how much time Wolf will miss. The Badgers open their season by hosting Football Championship Subdivision program Illinois State.

“Just offering up all my prayers to him,” Mertz said. “He’s in surgery probably here in a little bit. Obviously, you never want to see your buddy go down.”

Wisconsin’s remaining quarterbacks behind Mertz are redshirt freshman Deacon Hill and true freshmen Myles Burkett and Marshall Howe. Burkett was on campus for spring practice.

“I couldn’t sit here right now and tell you who’s further ahead or not,” Chryst said.

Chryst did note that Hill “certainly has had more overall reps.”

Wolf was 15 of 25 for 155 yards with four interceptions and two touchdown passes over the last three seasons. He went 8 of 16 for 124 yards with two interceptions and one touchdown last season, and he played most of the second half of a loss to Michigan after Mertz was injured.

“You feel terrible for him because I really liked what he was doing in camp,” Chryst said. “The one thing I know is Chase will stay in it. When he can get back, he’ll be ready to go.”

Mertz said the lack of experience behind him won’t impact his approach on the field.

“It doesn’t affect any how I play,” Mertz said. “I don’t think it should.”

Mertz completed 59.5% of his passes for 1,958 yards with 11 interceptions and 10 touchdown passes last season. He owns a 13-7 career record as a starter.

In the 13 wins, Mertz has thrown 16 touchdown passes with four interceptions. In the seven losses, he has thrown 12 interceptions and three touchdown passes.

“You’re seeing a guy that’s gone through all that and has found a way to keep coming out the other end,” Chryst said. “If you can do that and learn from it, that’s a good thing. I’ve loved the way he’s approached that.”

Wisconsin also announced that safety Travian Blaylock, defensive end Mike Jarvis, and linebacker Luna Larson are out for the season with injured right legs. Offensive lineman Tanor Bortoloni, tight end Cam Large, linebacker Spencer Lytle, defensive end Isaac Townsend and outside linebacker Aaron Witt have leg injuries that will prevent them from playing.

Blaylock had 21 tackles last season and was expected to have a bigger role this year until he got hurt in spring practice. The Badgers have since added Utah transfer Kamo'i Latu to boost their safety depth behind starters John Torchio and Hunter Wohler.

WVU RB Donaldson in concussion protocol, out for Baylor game

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) West Virginia running back CJ Donaldson is in concussion protocol and will miss next week’s home game with Baylor after he was injured in a loss to Texas, coach Neal Brown said Tuesday.

Donaldson remained on the ground after he was tackled on a short gain in the third quarter of Saturday’s 38-20 loss to the Longhorns. His helmet and shoulder pads were removed and he was carted off the field on a stretcher. After the game he was cleared to travel home with the team.

“He’s recovering,” Brown said. “There is a strict return-to-play (policy) that we have to follow here and I’m zero involved in it. All I do is ask the question. They don’t even start the return-to-play until they’re symptom free.”

Donaldson, a 240-pound freshman, leads the Mountaineers with 389 rushing yards and six touchdowns, with an average of 6.9 yards per carry.

West Virginia (2-3, 0-2 Big 12 Conference) is idle this week and hosts Baylor (3-2, 1-1) next Thursday, Oct. 13.

Taulia Tagovailoa says he visited brother, Tua, over weekend

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa was able to visit his brother, Tua, last weekend after the Terrapins’ game against Michigan State, he said Tuesday in his first comments to reporters since Tua left the Miami Dolphins’ game against Cincinnati last Thursday with a frightening head injury.

Taulia played in Maryland’s win over Michigan State on Saturday but was not made available to the media afterward. He said Tuesday he was able to go to Florida and spend some time with his brother, who suffered a concussion four days after taking a hit in another game but was cleared to return.

“He’s doing good, everything’s fine,” he said. “My biggest thing was just seeing him and spending as much time as I can with him. I came back Sunday night.”

Tagovailoa said he appreciates the support for his brother.

“My brother’s my heart. He’s someone I look up to, someone I talk to every day,” he said. “It was just a hard scene for me to see that.”

Tagovailoa said he was in constant contact with his mother about his brother’s situation, and he was finally able to talk to Tua on Friday night.

“I really just wanted to go there and just spend time with my family, hug them and stuff like that,” Taulia Tagovailoa said. “But he told me he’s a big fan of us, and he’d rather watch me play on Saturday. … After that phone call, I was happy and getting back to my normal routine.”

Tagovailoa indicated that his brother’s injury didn’t make him too nervous about his own health when he took the field again.

“I guess when that happens to someone like my brother, or when anything happens to one of my family members, I don’t really think of how it will be able to affect me,” he said. “I just think of: `Is he OK? How’s he doing?”‘

Although it was a short visit to Florida, he said he and Tua made the most of their chance to be together.

“I just wanted to make sure he’s healthy and stuff, which he is,” Taulia Tagovailoa said.