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November 9, 2013

Borland: White's still underrated





MADISON, Wis. - Time is running out on James White's college football career, but the senior running back is making the most of it. White boasted another strong performance in Wisconsin's 27-17 win over BYU on Saturday, after he rushed for 132 yards and two touchdowns last week against Iowa.

This week White was a big factor in the passing game as well, catching six passes for 47 yards and a touchdown to go along with another big game on the ground. White finished the game with 147 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns on 23 carries, wresting the spotlight from star running back Melvin Gordon in the process.

Gordon finished the game with 86 rushing yards on 19 carries, but said after the game that he was proud of his backfield partner and that he's happy as long as the Badgers finish the day with a win.

"I've been seeing James practice the same way. James is consistent," Gordon said after the game. "Things are just opening up for him. The big runs are coming his way, and it happens. I got the tough yards today- that's fine, I'm cool with that because we won. James has been performing well with the receiving game, blocking, pass protection. Everything he got today he deserves."

With the win against BYU the Badgers are moved to 15-0 when White rushes for at least 100 yards, but this was just White's second career game where he was the lone Badger running back to hit the century mark on his own. And while White is currently NCAA's active leader in rushing yards, White's teammates think he's still under-rated.

"He's shared the ball his whole career with great backs and sometimes gets over looked, but he's a consummate kind of professional," senior linebacker Chris Borland said. "If you ask his defenders how well he cuts they're not going to under-rate him. He should be up there with anyone- Dayne, Calhoun, Montee Fletcher and even John Clay. It's hard to have a better career than James has had here the last four years."

And while White might be underrated nationally, a few more performances like the one White had on Saturday should be more than enough to make sure White's name stays in that top group of Wisconsin tailbacks for a long time to come.

News and notes:

-- Defensive end Tyler Dippel rejoined the team on Friday night and played a few snaps for the Badgers after missing most of the last week while he was home in California to attend to a serious family issue. Dippel wasn't credited with any tackles but he gave a pre-game speech to the team that left a lot of players emotional before they left the locker room, where they had the senior lead them on to the field.

"He was in tears. It was emotional," senior outside linebacker Brendan Kelly said. "I was trying to hold the tears back a little. But he told us that he's always with us no matter where he is and where he's watching the game. We know he always wants to be with us, fighting with us."

-- The Badgers rotated Dezmen Southward down to cornerback from his usual safety spot during the game to match up against BYU wide receiver Cody Hoffman. Hoffman's a tough matchup at 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, and Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen said he and the coaches thought the 6-foot-2 Southward would be a better matchup than some of their smaller corner backs.

Hoffman still finished the game with 113 yards and two touchdowns, but as a whole the Badgers kept BYU quarterback Taysom Hill uncomfortable for most of the game. Hill completed just 19-of-41 passes and was picked off by Tanner McEvoy in the first quarter. The Badgers also limited him to just 53 rushing yards on 17 carries, effectively limiting Hill about as well as they could have hoped.

-- Jack Russell was 2-for-2 on field goal attempts against BYU- giving him his first career field goals. Russell's kicks came from 26 and 38-yards, giving the Badgers a rare game where their special teams were anything but mediocre.

For more Wisconsin Badgers news, notes and discussion, follow John on Twitter.



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