Running back John Clay is on top of Wisconsin’s depth chart, as
expected, but coach Bret Bielema says he’ll give backups Montee
Ball and James White carries against UNLV on Saturday.
Clay is the workhorse for the 12th-ranked Badgers, who face high
expectations with 10 starters back on offense. The burly junior
rushed for 1,517 yards and 18 touchdowns last season and had
surgeries on both ankles in the offseason.
Clay had a tough final scrimmage last week with two fumbles.
Bielema said how many carries he gets against UNLV will depend on
how Clay handles the work and the flow of the game.
”I do know this, all three of those running backs are going to
play and they’re going to play a lot,” Bielema said. ”You can see
more and more things every day (Clay is) getting to where he wants
to be or where we want him to be as well, but until that becomes
something we can count on every play of every game Montee Ball’s
going to get his chance, James White’s going to get his
Ball is a sophomore and White is a freshman. Bielema said both
remain in the mix to grab a number of the carries.
”Sometimes guys that have been here a while, they get a lot
better in a hurry when they see guys that are willing to carry some
yards at all positions,” Bielema said.
The trio of backs could all be successful if UNLV hasn’t figured
out how to stop the run.
UNLV has a new coach in Bobby Hauck, who brought his staff with
him from Montana, but the Running Rebels ranked 112th allowing
220.6 yards rushing per game last year.
Wisconsin’s coaching staff has been looking at film of both
Montana and UNLV to prepare. Hauck’s teams at Montana were
perennial powers in the FCS, with three championship appearances in
”We do know a lot about Bobby Hauck, Bobby is a tremendous
football coach who has won everywhere he’s been, especially at
Montana, coming in he brought his entire staff with him,” Bielema
said. ”Anytime your opener is against a new staff, there’s a lot
There’s less uncertainty with the Badgers, who’ll employ the
same style that led them to a 10-3 campaign last season that ended
with a win in the Champs Sports Bowl over Miami.
”We’re not hiding anything,” Bielema said. ”We’ll do what we
have to do to be successful.”
Bielema will have mostly a healthy team with most of his key
players and second stringers back from injuries.
Linebacker Culmer St. Jean (ankle) returned to practice on
Sunday and Bielema said he’s close to 100 percent. Other players
returning to practice include offensive linemen Bill Nagy
(concussion) and Kevin Zeitler (ankle), receiver Isaac Anderson
(toe) and linebacker Mike Taylor (knee).
Taylor is the one who is the most unlikely to play against the
Rebels. Bielema said Taylor did some running on Sunday and he would
fly to Las Vegas, but that he would be a gametime decision.
Backup defensive end Pat Muldoon, a redshirt freshman, is on
target for his debut after coming off a serious right knee injury
and two surgeries last season.
”Without that injury, my guess is he might have been pushing
for a starting role,” Bielema said. ”He’s going to play a lot of
football for us and his knee gets better every day.”
One player who may not contribute this season is senior running
back Zach Brown. Bielema said Brown struggled with tendinitis in
his knee in camp. While he’s practicing now, they’ve agreed to try
to redshirt him if the other three running backs remain