Wisconsin loses a top defender for season as LB Cichy tears ACL: 3 things to know

Wisconsin will be playing the 2017 season without one of its best defensive players.

The school announced Thursday that linebacker Jack Cichy suffered a torn ACL and will miss the entire 2017 season.

"You hate it for Jack," Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said. "You only get so many chances to play this game and you never want to see a guy miss any of those opportunities. He's one of the leaders of our team and I know he'll be a big part of what we do moving forward this season."

Here's what you need to know about how the loss affects Cichy and the Badgers in 2017.

This is the second year in a row that Cichy's season will be cut short: Cichy missed the second half of the 2016 season after suffering a torn pectoral muscle during Wisconsin's 17-9 win over Iowa on Oct. 22. The week before he was the Big Ten's Defensive Player of the Week after a 15-tackle performance against Ohio State.

Cichy was poised to have a big season: Cichy finished the 2016 season with 60 tackles, seven tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, three quarterback hurries and two forced fumbles. And he did all of that in only seven games. His presence in the middle of Wisconsin's linebacking corps was one of the reasons the Badgers had such a stout defense under Justin Wilcox last season, even if edge rushers like Vince Biegel and T.J. Watt seemed to garner most of the attention.

Cichy still finished the 2016 season as an honorable mention on the All-Big Ten team despite being limited to seven games.

He was named to numerous watch lists before the 2017 season, including the Bednarik and Butkus Awards.

Wisconsin has depth at middle linebacker: If there's any silver lining to this loss for Wisconsin it's that, if the Badgers have to suffer an injury to a key player at any position, middle linebacker is probably the place they can most afford it. Simply put, Wisconsin has a lot of talent and experience at the position.

Including Cichy, the top four middle linebackers on Wisconsin's depth chart have 51 starts between them. Cichy had been projected as a starter with Chris Orr, and Orr missed the 2016 season. Orr's injury combined with Cichy's later in the year opened up playing time for other backers such as T.J. Edwards and Ryan Connelly. Edwards led the team in tackles with 89, while Connelly had 59 tackles of his own.

The trio of Orr, Edwards and Connelly should provide cover for the loss of Cichy, and behind those three there is senior Leon Jacobs and a host of younger, untested options.

CBS Sports Writer

Tom Fornelli has been a college football writer at CBS Sports since 2010. During his time at CBS, Tom has proven time and again that he hates your favorite team and thinks your rival is a paragon of football... Full Bio

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