Badgers quarterback Jack Coan amped up to play in home state of New York
NEW YORK CITY — Sophomore quarterback Jack Coan, playing in his home state of New York when the University of Wisconsin faced Miami in Thursday’s Pinstripe Bowl, didn’t wait for the team’s arrival at Yankee Stadium to get himself amped for the unique opportunity.
Just ask tight end Jake Ferguson, who roomed with Coan this week.
“We woke up this morning, and he’s got all this excitement I’ve never seen out of him,” Ferguson said. “He started shaking me and was like, ‘Let’s go!’ I knew right there it was going to be a good game from him.
“He’s usually the quiet guy, but something came out of him today. It was awesome to see.”
Coan’s final stats — 6-of-11 passing for 73 yards with two total touchdowns and one interception — don’t stick out, but he managed the game well in the Badgers’ 35-3 blowout of the Hurricanes.
He hails from Sayville, N.Y., about 55 miles east of New York City, and said Monday that he had gathered 48 tickets from teammates since learning he would start for the injured Alex Hornibrook (head) last week.
“It was a special moment, playing in Yankee Stadium in front of all my family and friends,” said Coan, who burned his redshirt Thursday by playing in his fifth game of the season.
Coan’s first pass of the game went for a 35-yard touchdown to Kendric Pryor on third-and-9, giving UW a 7-0 lead.
He did throw a bad interception to Jaquon Johnson in the second quarter, which led to Miami’s only three points of the game, but his 7-yard rushing touchdown with 9:59 remaining handed the Badgers an insurmountable advantage at 28-3.
“I thought he handled it really well,” UW coach Paul Chryst said. “I thought he had poise in the pocket. I thought he was seeing things well and playing. I appreciate what he did in the run game, in the throw game. He was good. He was really good. And I liked the way that he prepared.
“It is a big deal coming back. … You want them to play well no matter where they’re at, but when they come back home, it’s pretty special.”
Three UW starters late scratches
The Badgers were without three starters against Miami who weren’t ruled out until Thursday.
Right tackle David Edwards (left shoulder) missed the final two games of the regular season and remained questionable throughout bowl prep before sitting out. Redshirt freshman Logan Bruss took his place in the starting lineup.
Defensive end Kayden Lyles, who practiced Monday, didn’t dress for the game, leaving an already-thin defensive line with even fewer bodies.
Safety D’Cota Dixon didn’t play, either. Dixon sat out Monday’s practice with an undisclosed injury, and Chryst said Wednesday he expected Dixon to play. It marked the senior’s fourth missed game this season. His replacement, Eric Burrell, intercepted Miami quarterback Malik Rosier on the Hurricanes’ first play from scrimmage, setting up a 7-yard touchdown from Jonathan Taylor that gave the Badgers an early 14-0 lead.
It was previously announced that All-Big Ten inside linebacker Ryan Connelly would miss Thursday’s game after undergoing an undisclosed procedure earlier this month for an injury he fought through over the final four games of the regular season.
Lotti punts against Miami
Junior Anthony Lotti punted against Miami on Thursday, the first time he’s done so since the Badgers’ win over Illinois on Oct. 20. Connor Allen handled those duties over the final five games of the regular season.
Lotti punted four times against the Hurricanes for 139 yards (34.8 average). Entering the game, he owned a 39.1 punting average this season to Allen’s 37.5.
“I had a really good couple weeks of practice, really hitting the ball well, and the coaches were noticing that,” Lotti said. “It wasn’t my best game, that’s for sure. I was knocking some rust off. Definitely not disappointed. I’m just happy to be back.”
Lotti said it rattled him a bit when he lost his first-team spot to Allen in October but that it also pushed him to improve.
He said he found out by simply walking into a special teams meeting and seeing that his name was no longer on the top of the depth chart.
“It was definitely upsetting, and it kind of messes with your head a little bit,” Lotti said. “Things just didn’t go as planned this season, and Connor’s a really good punter. He deserved the opportunity to punt. … It was just rough having to sit there and not being able to contribute.”
Lotti was asked after Thursday’s game if he ever considered whether or not UW was still the place for him.
“Not really,” Lotti said. “I love it here. I want to do everything I can to stay here, and I just want to do anything I can to make it work.”