A new NCAA football rule allows players to redshirt while participating in four games or less. Throughout the season, we'll track how many games each of the University of Wisconsin's true freshmen have played.
S Travian Blaylock — 4
WR Aron Cruickshank — 4
WR Taj Mustapha — 4
NT Bryson Williams — 4
ILB Jack Sanborn — 2
CB Rachad Wildgoose — 2
CB Donte Burton — 1
Game 4 (Iowa) analysis: With Mike Maskalunas and Griffin Grady out again this week, Sanborn saw action in his second game. Maskalunas entered the week questionable, so perhaps he could return after the bye and allow Sanborn to retain his eligibility. Wildgoose also played in his second game Saturday, while Burton sat out his third straight contest. Defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach Jim Leonhard said last week that the Badgers don't have a definitive plan on whether or not they'll redshirt Burton and Wildgoose. Blaylock, Cruickshank, Mustapha and Williams are now one game from officially crossing the four-game threshold. Two true freshmen who have not played yet -- quarterback Chase Wolf and cornerback Alex Smith -- traveled with UW to Iowa City. While Wolf likely won't see any snaps this year, Smith's inclusion is an interesting one, especially with Burton and Wildgoose already having seen playing time this season at the same position.
Game 3 (BYU) analysis: Sanborn made his debut with both Mike Maskalunas (right leg) and Griffin Grady (right leg) out. He played just three snaps as UW's fourth inside linebacker, and at this point he likely isn't expected to move past the four-game threshold. Blaylock and Mustapha moved one step closer to skipping a redshirt year as primarily special teams players. With this game in doubt until the final minute, there wasn't time to get Burton or Wildgoose any playing time, leaving the pair of cornerbacks at one game played apiece as the Badgers enter conference play.
Game 2 (New Mexico) analysis: Wildgoose saw fourth-quarter action at cornerback instead of Burton this week, and it appears the Badgers may be alternating the two in order to potentially keep both under the four-game limit. Blaylock played strictly on special teams for the second straight week, although Mustapha earned snaps on offense and even caught the final touchdown of the game. Cruickshank's role expanded a bit, as he became the team's No. 1 kickoff returner, while Williams actually saw the field for a couple plays in the first half. Quarterback Jack Coan isn't a freshman, but his exclusion from the final drive in favor of Danny Vanden Boom could mean the Badgers are looking to redshirt Coan after he played in six games as a true freshman last season.
Game 1 (Western Kentucky) analysis: Blaylock, who moved from cornerback to safety this fall, is the most unexpected name here. He did not play any defensive snaps, so his participation came strictly on special teams. Even with safeties Reggie Pearson and Patrick Johnson out, the Badgers stuck with just three players at that position — D'Cota Dixon, Scott Nelson and Eric Burrell — until Seth Currens entered the game on the final drive. That was also the case for Mustapha, who played special teams but couldn't crack the rotation at his position despite key players missing. Cruickshank didn't play much but expects to have a role throughout the season -- one that could increase with time. With cornerback Dontye Carriere-Williams leaving the program last week, Burton may go on to play more than four games. He's someone worth monitoring over the next few weeks. Considering the lack of depth on the Badgers' defensive line, don't expect Williams, the No. 2 nose tackle, to redshirt this season.