Taking a peek at the numbers and it’s pretty hard to understand how the Badgers are staring at a 3-2 record.
Wisconsin is only one of only three teams outside of Baylor and LSU to have a player average 100 yards rushing and a player average 100 yards receiving per game. And if you need me to tell you it's Melvin Gordon and Jared Abbrederis, you haven't been paying attention.
Despite getting spotty quarterback play from Joel Stave that has been erratic to head scratching this season, the offense has been able to play well and succeed.
And the reason is simple: Gordon is a special back that needs to be fed more consistently. I’m not saying that James White, who is 302 yards from passing Alan Ameche for ninth on the Badgers’ all-time rushing list, doesn’t deserve the rock. But, Gordon is the prototypical Wisconsin all-purpose back.
Gordon has mastered the Jet Sweep, can take it up the middle into the teeth of the defense and can also catch it out of the backfield. He attacks the line of scrimmage like a wild horse with his legs pumping, ready to make a split second cut.
The reason the passing game hasn’t been as effective is because a complementary receiver to Abbrederis never materialized. Whether that’s Bret Bielema’s fault for leaving the cupboard bare or Gary Andersen’s fault for not preparing his kids correctly, remains to be seen.
But the reason the passing game has had a pulse at all is because the steady running game, which dates back to Barry Alvarez has averaged, (I repeat averaged) a stunning 300.6 yards a game. The successful running game has left Swiss cheese size holes in opposing secondaries, giving Stave plenty of windows to work with.
I hate to even bring this up, but Gordon is younger. White is a senior while Gordon has two more years of eligibility left after this year. The last three years White has tallied over 120 carries and caught 32 balls. He’s got some wear and tear and why not use him like the Saints use Darren Sproles — to expose mismatches and make the offense even more dynamic.
That would allow Gordon to see the defense on a much more regular basis and afford him the chance to test the strongest and weakest portions of a defense.
Like I said, I’m not saying that White shouldn’t be getting carries, I just think Gordon should be getting carries in early downs and earlier in the ballgame. Get Gordon off to a fast start and suddenly, the play-action deep ball will find itself in the waiting arms of Abbrederis.
Gordon is just as fast as White and owns all the same moves. White isn’t as powerful and isn’t as inclined to take consistent carries inside the tackles.
The reason the Badgers have dropped two is because the zebras refused to kill the clock in the desert and Braxon Miller proved why the secondary was one of the biggest question marks heading into the season.
Gordon leads the Big Ten with 139.6 rushing yards a game and is No. 2 in the nation with 10.3 yards per carry. Those numbers are just silly. I dare anyone to average over 10 yards a carry on a video game. This kid makes things that are nearly impossible on a video game, somehow plausible in front of scores of fans.
The biggest blessing a team could have is too many capable running backs ready and able to run and run well at a moment’s notice. True freshman Corey Clement has looked very impressive, but even he it could be argued has taken away from Gordon’s numbers.
But Wisconsin fans have all seen good offense before. In 2010, the Badgers dropped 83 and 70 points on Indiana and wouldn’t you know it, Northwestern.
Gordon reminds me a lot of Montee Ball. And Ball was a Heisman finalist, is second on the school’s all-time rushing list and will one day see his name on the Camp Randall façade next to Ron Dayne and Alan Ameche.
Gordon has a lot of Flash left in the tank. He just needs the opportunity to prove it.