MADISON - In his first opportunity to show the country that he’s a true Heisman Trophy contender, junior Melvin Gordon dazzled, going for 139 yards on his first 14 carries through the first two quarters and one play against No.13 LSU. He scored a 14-yard touchdown, putting UW up 17-7 at halftime, and averaged 8.8 yards per carry.
But he reportedly suffered a minor hip flexor, and that was enough for head coach Gary Andersen to pull the plug.
Seeing Gordon lose some explosiveness and pulled up at the end of his 63-yard run on the first play of the third quarter, setting up what turned out to be Wisconsin’s final touchdown, Andersen made the call to put his best offensive player on the sidelines.
“We were trying to be smart with him as the rest of the game went on,” Andersen during his Monday press conference, “trying to make educational decisions to keep us moving in the right direction with Melvin for that game (and) for the future.”
The injury, according to Gordon, occurred after getting blindsided on a run near the end of the second quarter. Although he said he was fine after the game, Gordon said he could feel some pain on the run that began the third quarter.
“It was nothing to push through,” said Gordon.
Gordon carried the ball only two more times after that, as Wisconsin went in the direction of sophomore Corey Clement. Clement finished with 45 yards, 19 in the second half, and scored Wisconsin final touchdown on a two-yard run to put UW up 24-7.
“Corey is capable of making big plays, too,” said Gordon. “When I’m out, the talent level doesn’t drop at all, so the coaches didn’t go wrong there.”
Without Gordon in the lineup, Wisconsin’s running game was grounded to a halt. After Gordon’s burst to start the second half, the Badgers had rushed for 236 yards on 26 carries. In the final 13 carries of the game, the Badgers had only 32 yards, including only 15 yards in the fourth quarter.
Andersen said he and running back coach Thomas Brown were notified of the injury situation at halftime and didn’t feel it was necessary to pass on that information to the media after game, which caused controversy when Gordon said he was fine and had no health problems.
“This is why I get into a real problem,” said Andersen. “Everybody wants to get into a kid’s personal business and it’s hard for me to be able to deal with. If I’m off base I am off base, but all I can do is go by what the trainer tells me. He’s the professional so if I put a kid in harm’s way because I don’t listen to a trainer, I’ve got a major issue on my hands, and I don’t think I am the person I say I am.”
From the Infirmary
Senior defensive linemen Warren Herring and Konrad Zagzebski will return at some point during the nonconference season, although when it still in question. Zagzebski was carted off on a stretcher in the first quarter and taken to the hospital for evaluation. He has a chance to play this week, if not against Bowling Green on Sept.20.
Warren Herring is day-to-day with a right knee injury and Andersen said he is expected back “shortly.” That was good news for Marcus Trotter, who inadvertently caused the injury when he tried to cut out the legs of Leonard Fournette on a zone play but also took out Herring.
When it first happened, Trotter thought Herring tore his ACL, causing his college career to be over.
“You kind of always thing that, especially when he’s on the ground screaming,” said Trotter. “Later in the game he was walking. It was kind of hard for him, but that’s a very good sign right there.”
Sophomore wide receiver Rob Wheelwright is expected back full speed at practice Monday.
Extra Points: Tanner McEvoy will start on Saturday, but Andersen reiterated that junior Joel Stave will be involved in the offense and that UW needs two quarterbacks … Wisconsin is 11-0 against Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) schools in what is expected to be the last game UW plays down a subdivision … After joining Twitter prior to fall camp, Andersen has deactivated his account, saying it was becoming too much of a distraction.