Bye week very helpful on injury front for Wisconsin

Wisconsin should have one its key pieces in the secondary available when it faces Maryland this Saturday.

For the first time since the season opener, safety Hunter Wohler was not listed on the Monday status report.

“It is exciting that we’re going to have Hunter available for this week,” interim coach and defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard said. “(The bye) week was huge for him to be able to hit the field a couple times and not have to play on Saturday. He was able to get on the field, get some reps, work through some things physically just to find out where he’s at, the confidence he has in his leg and then be able to step back for a couple days and rest and get some treatment and he’ll be able to attack this week.”

Wohler has missed the last seven games after breaking his ankle against Illinois State, forcing Leonhard to use a variety of combinations at the spot with John Torchio, Kamo’i Latu, Preston Zachman and Titus Toler.

“It’s exciting when you add another piece that was a productive player in your defense,” Leonhard said. “He really had a huge fall camp and I was excited about what he was going to do this season. Now, it’s what’s the best combination that we can use.

“We’ve had some great production out of Kamo’i and out of Torch, so it’s finding the right balance with those guys. Down the stretch, hopefully it will help us keep them fresh and be able to rotate through a little bit like I traditionally do. And I’m excited for the prospects of getting all three of them on the field at times, whether it’s together or just rotating in keeping guys fresh throughout the game.”

The bye week also served several other key players well. Nose tackle Keeanu Benton has been battling a knee injury since the Northwestern game but was able to rest while doing some fishing over the weekend.

“I feel good as new, almost,” Benton said. “I feel great. I think it helped me out a lot. I got to relax and recover my body.”

The last time fans saw Nick Herbig he was serving as a glorified cheerleader on the sideline against Purdue. The outside linebacker didn’t practice at all leading into the game due to a knee injury and said he was only going to play in case of an emergency.

“It was huge. I kind of got to steal two weeks. I got the Purdue week and the bye week,” Herbig said of the time off. “It was huge for my body. Not just my knee, just everything in general. Let my body relax, recuperate. It was good.”

His absence against Purdue was the first game he’s missed in his career.

“I would say I’m working back,” Herbig said when asked about his status for this week’s game. “I’m going to practice this week, so we’ll see on Saturday.”

In addition to those three, tight ends Hayden Rucci and Cole Dakovich, along with quarterback Chase Wolf and kicker Jack Van Dyke were not on the initial status report after not suiting up for the Purdue game. Leonhard said some of them would be game time decisions on Saturday.