MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin quarterback Tanner Mordecai is out indefinitely after breaking his throwing hand in a loss to Iowa on Saturday.
Badgers coach Luke Fickell confirmed Monday that Mordecai had undergone surgery a day earlier. Fickell didn’t set a timetable for the sixth-year senior’s possible return.
ESPN first reported the severity of Mordecai’s injury.
As Mordecai was attempting a pass late in the second quarter Saturday, his right hand hit the helmet of Iowa linebacker Jay Higgins on his follow through. He stayed in for one more play and left the game after realizing he couldn’t grip the ball properly.
“There’s nobody that’s more of a competitor than him, just like for the sheer reason he didn’t come out after the play happened, right?” Fickell said at his Monday news conference
Braedyn Locke was Wisconsin’s quarterback for the remainder of the Badgers’ 15-6 loss. Wisconsin trailed 7-0 at the time of Mordecai’s injury.
Mordecai had completed 63.7% of his passes for 1,127 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions this season. He also had rushed for 161 yards and four touchdowns.
He transferred to Wisconsin after throwing for 3,500 yards each of the last two seasons at SMU. His 72 touchdowns passes at SMU set the program’s career record. He had enrolled at SMU after spending three seasons as a backup quarterback at Oklahoma.
He has completed 66.3% of his career pass attempts for 8,918 yards and 79 touchdowns with 26 interceptions.
“I think the biggest difference is just the experience,” Fickell said. “And that was the beautiful thing about Tanner Mordecai is his ability to come in here, not just what’s his experience of playing, but his experience of being through so many ups and downs. From his original stop in Oklahoma to SMU, and those things are invaluable. And Braedyn just doesn’t have those experiences, so that makes it more difficult in some ways for him. But I’d be honest with you, he’s got a great head on shoulders.”
Locke, a Mississippi State transfer, had attempted just one career pass before Saturday. He went 15 of 30 for 122 yards with no touchdowns and an interception against Iowa.
“There’s nobody that’s here more, that spends more time in here in the office and breaking and watching film, and learning and studying,” Fickell said.
After leading a pair of 60-yard drives that resulted in field goals on Wisconsin’s first two possessions of the second half against Iowa, Locke fumbled twice and threw an interception while struggling against Iowa’s pass rush in the fourth quarter.
One of the fumbles resulted in a turnover. The other one came on a sack and caused a safety after Wisconsin offensive tackle Riley Mahlman recovered the fumble in the end zone.
“Braedyn’s a very capable quarterback. He has good arm talent,” Wisconsin wide receiver Chimere Dike said after the game. “He’s confident. He has moxie. That’s a young kid. It was one of his first games and he came in and showed that he could help move the ball against one of the best defenses in the country. So I have all the faith in him, and we’re going to rally around him and continue to grow.”
This represents the Wisconsin offense’s second major injury of the season. Running back Chez Mellusi hasn’t played since getting carted off the field with a leg injury in a 38-17 victory at Purdue on Sept. 22. Mellusi isn’t expected to return this season.
Wisconsin (4-2, 2-1 Big Ten) visits Illinois (3-4, 1-3) on Saturday.
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