MADISON, Wis. (AP) Expecting to carry a bigger load this year at Wisconsin, running back Corey Clement focused on bulking up during the offseason in order to deliver more of a punch.
The added muscle hasn’t slowed him down judging by the way that Clement keeps sprinting into the end zone at training camp.
Once again, Wisconsin has a new head coach with former offensive coordinator Paul Chryst returning to Madison. The running game, though, keeps churning out quality running backs like a big red automobile assembly line.
”Bigger, faster,” the junior said. ”Power and speed kills a lot of defenses.”
Clement would know after watching Heisman Trophy runner-up Melvin Gordon tear up the Big Ten for a conference-record 2,587 yards and 32 touchdowns. As a freshman, Clement was the third-stringer behind James White, a fourth-round draft pick of the New England Patriots in 2014; and Gordon, who was picked in the first round this year by the Chargers.
In 26 career games, Clement has averaged 7 yards per carry in rushing for 1,496 yards and 16 touchdowns. He has seven 100-yard rushing games.
But that was as a backup.
”He’s smart enough to take note of what the guys ahead of him are doing,” Chryst said. ”He was smart enough to see it, but James and Melvin helped to show him the way.”
Clement put in extensive time training during the summer with the goal of reducing body fat and adding muscle. Clement didn’t go out as much. Part of his workout included carrying a 50-pound weight while walking up and down stairs at Camp Randall Stadium.
Twice a week, all the way around the stadium’s lower bowl.
”It’s a killer trying to run up and down all these steps,” he said. ”My goal was always to finish, whether I had to crawl up the steps or do something. That’s what always gave my legs the burn.”
Some other things to watch this season at Wisconsin:
STABLE STAVE: No quarterback controversy this preseason in Madison. Chryst anointed Joel Stave the starter in the offseason, a welcome change for the senior signal-caller after two training camps of uncertainty under Chryst’s predecessor, Gary Andersen. Stave is 21-7 as a starter, and his 58 percent completion percentage is fifth-best in school history. But Stave has been maddeningly inconsistent in his career. Now secure with the starting job, a confident Stave goes into the season playing for a head coach with a track record of developing quarterbacks.
CALMING INFLUENCE: It seems like Chryst never left Camp Randall. The down-to-earth Chryst seems like the perfect fit coaching back in his hometown after three years at Pittsburgh. Don’t underestimate how much the familiarity and calming influence has helped stabilized a program that lost Andersen to Oregon State in December, two years after Bret Bielema bolted in a similar fashion for Arkansas. Chryst is also well-liked by Wisconsin high school coaches, a relationship that should also help shore up in-state recruiting.
FRONT FIVE: For the first time in a while at Wisconsin, there are questions about the offensive line because of youth, as well injuries in the offseason and training camp. The anchors are senior Tyler Marz, a mountain of a left tackle at 6-foot-7, 325 pounds; and junior center Dan Voltz. Redshirt freshman Michael Dieter is poised to start at guard.
CAPTAIN CAPUTO: The strength of the defense this year might lie in the experienced secondary, which is led by third-year starter Michael Caputo. The hard-hitting safety is an important piece for coordinator Dave Aranda as a defensive signal-caller and versatile player who can support the run.
ON THE OUTSIDE: The Badgers might have one of the best outside linebacker tandems in the Big Ten in Joe Schobert and Vince Biegel. Even with Chryst now in charge, the defense shouldn’t change that much since Aranda was retained. Chryst said he was ”glad that Vince and Schobert aren’t going through as much new learning. They can focus on getting better and not just learning the playbook.”
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