The Wisconsin Badgers escaped with a win against Purdue in Week 4, moving to 3-1 on the season and 1-0 in conference play. While the Badgers pulled away with a 38-17 victory, there was plenty on the minds of Wisconsin Badgers fans. Two questions rang the loudest, one being what would the Badgers do without Chez Mellusi after his season-ending injury, and where was star linebacker Maema Njongmeta?
Wisconsin Badgers Media Availability Revealed the Truth
Many speculated that it could be an injury or disciplinary. It’s hard to imagine that Luke Fickell would want to weaken the defense without his senior LB, who has put up 16 total tackles this season and recorded snap counts of 56, 60, and 65 through the first three games. He was curiously absent in the fourth game, only recording one snap.
The Wisconsin Badgers didn’t have the same typical media availability due to the bye week, but as soon as they could, media availability was requested for Maema Njongmeta. This led to rampant speculation on social media, and it reached so far that Njongmeta even heard from his mom:
“I mean, look, fielded a million questions about this from friends or whatnot. Friends, family, I mean, the whole wild world. End of the day, I didn’t break a team rule, in case people were wondering,” Njongmeta said.
“Didn’t break a team rule, that did come up. People were wondering. My mom called me and she was like, did you break a team rule? Like, my mom loves Twitter.”
Luke Fickell on Maema Njongmeta not playing outside of one snap against Purdue.
“Purdue spread us out a lot. We felt like it was a situation where Jake Chaney was in a better role. It became difficult to roll with them not giving us opportunities to sub.
“We feel like we have…
— Evan Flood (@Evan_Flood) October 2, 2023
Njongmeta revealed that it was what Luke Fickell had said and that it was all about the match-up with Purdue. Fickell felt that leaving Jake Chaney in the game was best for the team. He downplayed any idea that there was friction, going so far as to say that the linebackers were a brotherhood: “Although I wasn’t physically out there, I saw myself in those plays from the preparation standpoint, from kind of the sideline adjustments that we were making. That’s my boy over there. I was part of it the whole way, even though people didn’t necessarily see me out there.”
He’s embracing his role as a leader with the Wisconsin Badgers, and this was him showing those colors. He took the situation well and enjoyed seeing his fellow linebackers get a shot in the game:
“We have a team dedicated to making sure that this program is the best place possible moving forward. And so they’re going to make the decisions for that. And as a player, as captain, my role is to embrace those decisions, be there for those guys, and embrace my role, be the best at it, no matter what that role is on that given day. I’m happy to do that, whatever that looks like.”
And for those looking to continue speculation? He had some words for them: “I think, you know, it’s one of those things that people will always look from the outside in and make their judgment calls, make their decisions. They’ll quarterback from the couch. And at the end of the day, we have a staff.”
The Wisconsin Badgers take on Rutgers this week and look to continue winning, especially with Rutgers being a surprise team going 4-1 in the first five games.