Wisconsin to hit practice field for first time Wednesday

Following a two-week pause of football activities due to a rash of positive COVID-19 tests, the Wisconsin Badgers will return to the practice field Wednesday.

The practice will mark the first time the Badgers have been on the field since the Big Ten reversed course and announced last Tuesday that it would play football this fall, with games beginning Oct. 24.

“It means everything,” quarterback Jack Coan said of getting to play a season. “Football is one of the most important things in my life. That’s like a lot of guys on the team. If we didn’t have it this fall, I don’t really know what I’d be doing.”

Coan and the Badgers were forced to suspend activities earlier in September after 29 players or staff reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 since the beginning of the month. That came after tackle Cole Van Lanen said in August the team went “weeks, if not months” without a positive test. With the new Big Ten protocols mandating that any player that tests positive must sit out for at least 21 days, the pressure of staying safe has increased even more.

“You’d miss three games and it’s not a very long season anymore,” defensive end Isaiahh Loudermilk said. “It’s a huge incentive for us to stay as safe as possible.”

Wednesday’s practice will come 31 days before the Badgers are set to take on Illinois in the season opener. With no spring practice, and the new experience of trying to navigate a fall camp amidst a pandemic, is it possible for the team to be ready when the Illini come to town?

“Honestly, I’m not too worried about it,” Coan said. “Every team is in the same situation as us. I think this team has done a great job of staying together and working out on our own.”