Thursday's football: Wisconsin's Alex Hornibrook out for bowl
Madison, Wis. — Wisconsin will start Jack Coan at quarterback in the Pinstripe Bowl against Miami with Alex Hornibrook sidelined by a recurrence of concussion symptoms.
Coach Paul Chryst said Thursday that Hornibrook, a third-year starter, took part in more than two weeks of bowl practice before symptoms returned.
Hornibrook missed the 31-17 loss at Northwestern on Oct. 27 with a head injury. Hornibrook returned to start the following week against Rutgers, but sat out the second half after his head hit the turf during a sack.
Hornibrook then missed the next two games before returning to start the regular-season finale against Minnesota. The junior saw a specialist during the season, according to Chryst.
“It’s so early … I don’t know all the ramifications of anything right now,” Chyrst said when asked about Hornibook’s long-term outlook. “You take it day to day, and week to week right now.”
The left-handed Hornibrook had a 59.5 percent completion rate over nine games, throwing for 1,532 yards, 13 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
There were high hopes for the passing game coming into the year after Hornibrook’s breakout performance in the Orange Bowl last season against Miami, when he was 23-of-34 for 258 yards and four touchdowns with no picks.
The Badgers’ aerial attack this year was inconsistent even before Hornibrook got hurt.
For Coan, the Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 27 would his fifth game of the season, meaning the sophomore will burn his eligibility to take a redshirt year.
Coan is 50-of-82 for 488 yards with four scores and two interceptions. He has showed gradual improvement, going 16-of-24 for 206 and two scores with no interceptions in his last start, a 47-44 win in OT over Purdue on Nov. 17.
“We didn’t go into this season wanting to redshirt him,” Chryst said. “We went into the season saying ‘We wanted your snaps to be meaningful.’”
Wisconsin also has high school quarterback Graham Mertz, a four-star prospect out of Kansas, joining the team next fall as part of a 19-member recruiting class for the early signing period .
Another key player, inside linebacker Ryan Connelly, will also miss the Pinstripe Bowl.
Chryst has said that Connelly had surgery for an injury that bothered the senior over his last four games, but the coach declined to disclose the nature of the ailment.
Kansas player suspended
An affidavit alleges Kansas football player Pooka Williams punched a woman in the stomach and grabbed her by the throat earlier this month.
The Lawrence Journal-World reported the 18-year-old woman showed the officer text messages from Williams admitting to punching her in the arms during the Dec. 5 incident. The document says the officer also found the victim had bruises on her arms and side Williams reportedly told police he pushed the woman when he saw her in a room with other men at an apartment building. Both have said they were in an intimate relationship.
Coach Les Miles says Williams is suspended pending investigation.
Tennessee adds Gray
Tennessee fortified its recruiting class on the second day of the early signing period by adding running back Eric Gray, who had 138 touchdowns in high school in Memphis.
Gray, ranked the No. 1 all-purpose back in the nation by 247Sports, decommitted from Michigan earlier this month.
Toledo (7-5) vs. FIU (8-4)
Kickoff: 12:30 Friday
Line: Toledo by 4½
Series record: FIU, 2-1
Key matchup: FIU secondary vs. Toledo receivers. The Rockets will air it out, and their top three receivers — Cody Thompson, Diontae Johnson and Jon’Vea Johnson — have a combined 75 touchdown catches in their careers. Toledo also has scored 50 or more points six times this season, and FIU does not thrive in high-scoring matchups. FIU is 7-0 this season when holding teams to 24 points or less, 1-4 when teams score more than that.