One could use a lot of words to describe the Wisconsin rushing attack from a season ago. One that wouldn’t be used is dominant.
Wisconsin’s running game has built a reputation over the years of simply running through teams, racking up gaudy numbers and being the life blood of the offense. But with Corey Clement struggling to stay healthy (played in four games) and the offensive line having seven different starting combinations last season, it’s no surprise the rushing attack looked pedestrian at times.
The Badgers averaged 150.3 yards a game last year, which ranked a very un-Wisconsin 94th in the country. How rare is that? The program hasn’t ranked that low in rushing in over two decades, finishing the 1995 season at 86th in the country (128.9 yards a contest). Additionally, a school known as “Running Back U” didn’t have a 1,000-yard rusher for the first time since 2004 and failed to average at least 200 yards rushing a game in a season for the first time since 2006.
Running back coach John Settle believes last year was more the hiccup than the new norm, and one look at the group that he has to work with this season makes you believe him. Not only do the Badgers have two seniors in Clement and Dare Ogunbowale, but a promising sophomore in Taiwan Deal and an eager redshirt freshman in Bradrick Shaw fighting for carries.
"We could be scary," Settle said. "This could be a scary group with the progress that Deal has made, what he brings and adds to the table ... We've got three good ones that should be able to really put stress on defenses."
Once again Wisconsin’s key to success on the ground will rely heavily on Clement and his health. At less than 100 percent healthy, Clement rushed for 115 yards on 11 carries and three touchdowns over Rutgers. His long rush of 58 yards was the longest by any tailbacks last season and his 100-yard afternoon was one of only five the entire season (Ogunbowale 3, Deal 1).
After time wasn’t on his side to recover during the season, Clement said he’s fully healed and fully embracing a second chance.
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July 27 - Quarterbacks