Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook commits four turnovers in return to action for Badgers
While University of Wisconsin starting quarterback Alex Hornibrook returned from a two-game absence Saturday, his play contributed to the Badgers’ 37-15 loss to rival Minnesota at Camp Randall Stadium.
Hornibrook completed 22-of-33 passes for 189 yards and two touchdowns, but he also turned the ball over four times — three interceptions and a lost fumble that led to 24 Golden Gophers points.
“We don’t know, how would Alex have done coming off of playing four straight?” UW coach Paul Chryst said. “Certainly felt confident with the way he practiced and what he did that he was going to be ready for it. Any time you turn the ball over that number of times, you make it tough on yourself.
“And yet, it doesn’t all fall on him. I don’t think enough sides picked it up, and so we all have a hand in it. … Certainly, the first pick, he didn’t see, the corner fell off. We had a crossing route, he fell off. I thought that he had locked onto it. Another pick, we had the receiver should have been breaking out and didn’t.”
Hornibrook said on his second interception, he simply should have thrown the ball away. He rolled left on third-and-10 from his own 48-yard line late in the third quarter and tried to force a pass to Kendric Pryor.
Hornibrook missed UW’s loss at Northwestern on Oct. 27 with a concussion before returning the following week against Rutgers. He suffered another concussion on the final play of the first half in the Badgers’ win over the Scarlet Knights and missed the next two games at Penn State and Purdue.
He practiced four days before last week’s game in West Lafayette before ultimately not making the trip.
The junior said he knew “at some point this week” that he would return Saturday and “was preparing like I was going to play in this game.”
“You always want to be playing as an athlete and a competitor,” Hornibrook said. “But obviously I needed to take care of myself and make sure I was ready to go.”
Hornibrook’s return could allow sophomore Jack Coan to redshirt if the sophomore doesn’t play in UW’s bowl game.
Coan saw action in the Badgers’ previous four games before Saturday. A new NCAA rule allows those who have yet to redshirt to maintain a year of eligibility if they play in four games or fewer.
UW surrenders rare punt return TD
Demetrius Douglas’ 69-yard punt return Saturday marked just the second time in the last six years UW has allowed a punt return touchdown, with the other coming against Akron in 2016.
After fielding the ball, Douglas split two Badgers players — Andrew Van Ginkel and Garrett Groshek — and outran everyone else down the near sideline.
The return handed Minnesota a 17-0 lead with 1:05 left in the first half.
“Any time you get a big special teams play, those are huge,” Chryst said. “Momentum changes. We obviously didn’t do a good enough job of covering it. … Before the half like that is, obviously that’s one more thing you’ve got to overcome.”