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Ryan Connelly

Badgers linebacker Ryan Connelly puts pressure on Cougars quarterback Tanner Mangum in the third quarter of Wisconsin's 24-21 loss to BYU on Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison. 

The University of Wisconsin football team lost one of its biggest playmakers on defense early in the game Saturday.

The absence of senior outside linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel was very apparent in the No. 6 Badgers’ 24-21 loss to BYU.

Van Ginkel limped off the field after making a tackle on the opening play of the Cougars’ second possession. He didn’t play the rest of the way and returned to the sidelines after halftime wearing a walking boot on his right foot.

Outside linebacker was a question mark entering the season following the departure of senior starters Garret Dooley and Leon Jacobs. Van Ginkel, a pass-rushing specialist as a junior, and Zach Baun have stepped into starting roles and were solid in the Badgers’ first two games.

Van Ginkel’s departure led to more playing time for backups Tyler Johnson, Christian Bell and Noah Burks.

“We have some other guys,” Baun said. “But it did hurt a little bit.”

BYU tailback Squally Canada went for 44 yards on the play after Van Ginkel was injured. Canada finished with 11 carries for 118 yards – a 10.7 average – and two touchdowns.

The Cougars also effectively used jet sweeps to keep UW’s defense off balance. BYU finished with 191 rushing yards.

“They obviously schemed us pretty well,” UW senior linebacker Ryan Connelly said. “They made some plays, took advantage of some things that we were not necessarily in the best places for. So hats off to them for that.”

Neuville injured again

The Badgers also lost a key member of their offense early in the game.

Tight end Zander Neuville left on UW’s second play from scrimmage with a right leg injury and did not return. It’s the same leg Neuville suffered an injury to during fall camp, and he also tore the ACL in his right knee against Minnesota last season.

UW coach Paul Chryst said after the game he did not know the severity of the injuries to Neuville or Van Ginkel.

“Certainly, we like Zander a lot in there, and the same could be said defensively when we lost (Van Ginkel) early on,” Chryst said. “And yet, there’s opportunity for others to step in and step up. You want those players in there, and yet, they (weren’t), and we’ve got to find a way to overcome those."

Backup linemen see playing time

UW subbed out three of its starting offensive linemen on its second drive of the third quarter. Jason Erdmann (center), Micah Kapoi (right guard) and Logan Bruss (right tackle) entered for Tyler Biadasz, Beau Benzschawel and David Edwards, respectively.

Heat may have played a factor in the one-possession switch. The 87-degree temperature at kickoff matched the second-hottest game in Camp Randall Stadium history, behind only the 90-degree day against UNLV on Sept. 1, 2011.

When asked if the change was related to the heat or the starters’ performance, Chryst said, "Probably a little bit of everything, with the heat and also, kind of like you do with backs where you, can we spark something? Can we go with it? ... And also those guys have earned the right to play. You don’t feel like it’s unsettling anyone in the huddle. Micah’s played a lot of football and (Erdmann) is playing a lot there. ... We felt going in that we wanted to play them all, or the group that we did."

Left guard Michael Deiter, the only lineman to play every snap Saturday, said the change was strictly heat-related, while Benzschawel said the plan heading into the game was to get Erdmann, Kapoi and Bruss some snaps.

“It was the plan to get those guys some reps,” Benzschawel said. "Just to get other guys reps, in case something happens that those guys are ready to play."

Davis catches 4 passes in return

Danny Davis caught four passes for 40 yards in his return from a two-game suspension. He dropped a pass on the game’s first play from scrimmage but also went for 18 yards on third-and-19 during an eventual touchdown drive.

Davis was suspended for his involvement in an alleged sexual assault that occurred at his apartment in April. According to a criminal complaint, he was present at the apartment during the incident and took photos of at least one of the victims. Davis was not made available to the media after the game.

“The first play of the game he had a chance to make a play and didn’t,” Chryst said. "He made a couple. The third and extra long, had a nice catch and run off of that. There’ll be things that he can build on and there’s things that he’s going to learn from. He got jammed up on a couple releases. Every one of us can get better. He’s no different."

Extra points

Jon Dietzen started at left tackle and played UW’s first two series before splitting time with Cole Van Lanen. ... True freshman Jack Sanborn made his debut at inside linebacker Saturday.

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Jason Galloway is the Wisconsin Badgers football beat writer for the Wisconsin State Journal.

Jim Polzin covers Wisconsin Badgers men's basketball for the Wisconsin State Journal.