Max Siker/BadgerNation

Tight end Troy Fumagalli's performance was critical to Wisconsin's 16-14 victory over LSU

On a day where the defense shined brightest, Wisconsin junior tight end Troy Fumagalli made most of the critical plays to put the offense in position to score points.

GREEN BAY – In the weeks leading up to Saturday’s season opener, Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst spoke at length about a number of the players in his projected two-deep depth chart on offense.

But as was usually the case, he saved his most important marks for junior tight end Troy Fumagalli.

“I hope Troy is a big part of what we do offensively,” he said again Monday. “I like how he’s evolved, yet I believe … for us to be as good on offense as we can be, Fume needs to be a big part of that.”

Whether it be the run or the pass, Wisconsin’s No.1 tight end delivered for the offense and played the huge role Chryst was looking for in the Badgers’ 16-14 win over No.5 LSU.

Fumagalli finished with seven catches for 100 yards – both team highs and career highs – and they were timely. His first six catches all went for first downs. Of UW’s four scoring drives, Fumagalli had at least one catch on three of them, including a 27-yarder and an 11-yarder on the game-winning drive, the latter of which dug UW out of a first-and-20 hole.

“Fume was outstanding, and I think we really wouldn’t have won this game without him,” said senior tailback Corey Clement, who himself had a big day with 86 rushing yards and the team’s lone touchdown in the third quarter. “He did a great job making sure we didn’t go three-and-out on those drives. If it wasn’t for Fume, this game would have been more nail-biting in terms of who was going to win.”

In a way Fumagalli had been building towards his current role for the past two seasons. He was used sporadically as a redshirt freshman but still found ways to contributed with his limited reps. Starting last season battling ankle and thumb injuries, Fumagalli quickly rose to a bigger role when Austin Traylor broke his arm in the conference opener, responding with 28 catches for 313 yards and a touchdown.

This year Fumagalli was going to be asked to do a little bit of everything in a Chryst offense that has turned tight ends Owen Daniels, Garrett Graham, Lance Kendricks and others into N.F.L. veterans.

His running blocking was sufficient (LSU linebacker Arden Key got the better of him for a 6-yard sack on second down that stunted a drive) but his pass catching made up for any small gaffes.

“I thought Fume played well and made some plays,” Chryst said. “I thought there were a couple other ones we might be able to get on him, but I think that’s where he’s at in his development. I don’t want to say he needs to be that guy but for us to be as good as we can be, Fume has to make plays.”

Fumagalli knew it, too. Nearing the end of camp, reserve safety Arrington Farrar accidently stepped on Fumagalli’s gloveless right hand (abnormal for him), exposing a deep cut down to the tendons. Thirty stiches were required – 15 on the top of the hand and 15 underneath – and a couple days of rest was all he needed.

“It wasn’t a big deal,” Fumagalli said, looking at his Frankenstein incision. “I was ready to go.”

After all, considering he spent the offseason working on becoming a complete player and a leader, he wasn’t going to miss this opportunity.

“I think we’ve been working hard throughout camp, and that was a testament to it (Saturday),” Fumagalli said. “We worked on a ton of stuff and everybody stepped up.” 


Badger Nation Top Stories