Quarterback Jack Coan will burn his redshirt to start in the Pinstripe Bowl against Miami next week, University of Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst confirmed Thursday morning.
Chryst said starting quarterback Alex Hornibrook practiced to begin bowl prep earlier this month before suffering reoccurring symptoms from a head injury he suffered earlier this year.
“Alex did participate in a couple weeks of bowl practices and then kind of had some reoccurring (symptoms), and we’re going with Jack,” Chryst said. “This is one more great opportunity for (Coan), to be able to start. … Nothing’s guaranteed, and so you want to appreciate the opportunities that you get.”
Hornibrook missed the Badgers’ game at Northwestern on Oct. 27 with the head injury before being cleared to play the following week versus Rutgers. The junior then sat out the second half against the Scarlet Knights and missed the next two games after he “exacerbated the symptoms of the initial injury,” per UW. Hornibrook started the Badgers’ regular-season finale against Minnesota before his symptoms returned recently.
Hornibrook saw a specialist in Michigan during the season, according to Chryst, and the head coach said it’s too early to talk about Hornibrook’s long-term future beyond this season.
“You’re going through it, and so I don’t know all the ramifications of it right now,” Chryst said. “You just take it day-to-day and week-to-week.
“You trust the evaluations. … You try to do all that you can. I get the information. I don’t know that I understand it all, so that’s where you’re thankful to have people that care and go with it.”
Hornibrook, a three-year starter, completed 59.5 percent of his passes this season for 1,532 yards with 13 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He’s declined to speak about his head injury multiple times but said last week that injuries to his head and back may have affected his play on the field this season.
Coan, a sophomore, played in four games this season with Hornibrook out. A new NCAA rule allows players to see action in four games or fewer and still maintain a year of eligibility. Coan would benefit from that rule and remain a sophomore next season if he doesn’t play in the Pinstripe Bowl.
“We didn’t go into this season saying we want to redshirt him,” Chryst said. “We went into the season saying, we want your snaps to be meaningful. … Every time that he’s played, the game’s been in the balance.”
Coan, who started three of the four games he’s played in this season, has completed 61 percent of his passes for 442 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions.
He hails from Sayville, N.Y., about 55 miles east of Yankee Stadium in New York City, where he’ll lead the Badgers against Miami on Dec. 27.
“Jack’s awesome. I mean, he’s excited,” Chryst said. “I’ve appreciated the way that Jack’s approached this whole year, and I’m looking forward to this opportunity for him and this team.”