With senior captain Vince Biegel at home recovering from right foot surgery, Dooley stepped in admirably with a career-high seven tackles, including a sack and a quarterback hurry, in No.8 Wisconsin’s 14-7 loss to No.4 Michigan at Michigan Stadium Saturday.
“Getting a game like this under my belt, tough team like Michigan, that’s good moving forward,” Dooley said. “It’s tough that Vince will be out for a couple weeks. It definitely gives me a confidence boost going into the rest of the season. Obviously hoping Vince can make a speedy recovery, but the coach’s mentality is next man up, don’t miss a beat.”
It was announced Thursday that Biegel would be out for “several weeks” after having right foot surgery Thursday night. According to an ESPN report, Biegel had a screw inserted into his foot to stabilize a crack and will be out 2-to-4 weeks, although no timetable has been given by the Wisconsin.
Dooley was informed Thursday about Biegel’s surgery before practice and got word after by outside linebackers coach Tim Tibesar that he would be tasked with filling the captain’s spot.
Biegel didn’t make the trip but Dooley said he spoke to the linebackers Friday morning and sent them a video message Saturday morning.
“He said he loves us, wished us the best of luck, wished he could be there,” Dooley said. “That’s great to have Vince’s support. It’s tough not having his support here.”
A member of the 2013 recruiting class, Dooley’s failed transition to defensive end wasn’t corrected until Paul Chryst arrived in December 2013. Dooley didn’t make his college debut until 2015, playing in 11 games and making three special teams tackles, but had played in every game this season.
While Dooley missed a sack opportunity early, he delivered a tackle on a first-down reverse for no gain and delivered a sack on third-and-6 late in the fourth quarter, giving the offense another chance to make a play.
“Garret played really well,” outside linebacker T.J. Watt said. “I couldn’t have asked him to play any better…I thought he stepped up really well, and that’s the mantra of this team – next man up. We try not to skip a beat, and I don’t think we did that much.”
Nowhere to Run
Using the same starting line combination as last week (Michael Deiter at left guard, Brett Connors at center), Wisconsin running game was ground to stand still, finishing with only 71 yards and having three runs over 10 yards.
“There were opportunities where (running the ball) presented itself, I saw it myself, and I just think if we had more opportunities in the red zone we would have been able to punch it in a few times,” tailback Corey Clement said. “I can’t really point fingers at any body … We’ve just got to execute better when we get the ball in our hands.”
Clement finished with 68 yards on 17 carries, better production than his 54 yards on 23 carries a week ago, but not much consistency. Twelve of his 17 carries went for three yards or less, including three for no gain and four for a gain of one yard.
With quarterback Alex Hornibrook struggling, Michigan loaded the box on early downs. The Badgers gained 72 yards on their 15 first down rushing attempts, a number that includes UW’s three biggest runs of the game (19, 17 and 16).
“We got to go back to the chalk board and keep drawing up some new plays, just keeping the defense on their toes,” Clement said. “This game is really a learning curve, so we’ll just keep building off of it. This game really doesn’t define our season.”
A Change at Punter
Facing one of the top returners in college football in Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers, Wisconsin had to be cautious with its approach and execution on deep kicks. Apparently true freshman Anthony Lotti was being too cautious.
Saying in the days leading up to the game that he wasn’t satisfied with his drops, Lotti was benched after punts of 40, 39 and 40 failed to flip the field position. His last punt gave Michigan a first down at Wisconsin’s 39 after Peppers had a 13-yard return.
P.J. Rosowski replaced Lotti near the end of the second quarter. Punting for the first time since the season opener against LSU, Rosowski’s 30-yard punt went out of bounds at the Michigan 31. His next three delivered better hang time, as his punts of 35, 42 and 40 were all fair caught by Peppers.
Lotti did return in the fourth quarter with a perfect 27-yard coffin corner kick, pinning Michigan at the 7 with 12:54 remaining
Extra Points: Linebackers Jack Cichy (12), Watt (11) and Dooley (7), safety Leo Musso (7) and nose tackle Olive Sagapolu (5) all finished with a career high in tackles … Including Saturday's 7-point loss at Michigan, each of Wisconsin's last 12 regular-season Big Ten losses have come by seven or fewer points. That streak that dates back to a 34-24 loss at Michigan State in the 2010 season opener. The Badgers are 37-12 (.755) in conference play over that span … The Badgers' defense has allowed a total of three touchdowns and two field goals in three matchups against top-10 opponents this season.