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January 7, 2014

Report Card: Running Backs





Wisconsin's 2013 football season is in the books, so it's time to pass out our position grades after the Badgers finished the year 9-4 with a 34-24 loss to South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl.

We previewed the quarterbacks yesterday, and you can find our season-ending grades for Joel Stave here. Of course we could spend all day discussing Wisconsin's quarterback situation, so I think it's in everyone's best interest if we moved on to running backs today.

The BadgerBlitz.com staff's grades for Melvin Gordon, James White and the rest are included below:

John Veldhuis: If your top two running backs combine to break the NCAA's record for combined rushing yards by two teammates it's safe to say you had a pretty good year. Gordon and White picked up 7.14 yards per carry between them this season, and gave the Badgers two solid weapons to rely on when the passing game was out of sync. Gordon and White wouldn't have been quite as successful without a solid performance from their offensive line, but they are both talented running backs who were capable of making big plays on their own as well.

White emerged as a steady three-down back that the Badgers could rely on in pass protection, and Gordon gets top marks for his home-run ability, even if his grade was front loaded with big games against some weaker teams. The Badgers also saw a glimpse of the future in Corey Clement who thrived as the team's third running back. All around it was another great year on the ground for the Badgers, even if they did have hiccups against Ohio State and Penn State. It's not hard to see why Thomas Hammock turned down a chance to move up in the coaching ranks to stay at Wisconsin- he keeps padding his resume. With Gordon coming back for next season the Badgers should be in good shape at running back for a while.

Grade: A

Jon McNamara: Thomas Hammock's group was great in 2013. The duo of White and Gordon combined for 27 touchdowns and over 3,000 yards on the ground. Behind them, true freshman Corey Clement proved he'll be capable of a bigger workload this fall after he rushed for over 500 yards and seven touchdowns. Fullback Derek Watt was a big reason for the production. The redshirt sophomore had another solid year in his second season as a starter.

Grade: A

Jon Gorman: Both James White and Melvin Gordon were excellent all season, with one seemingly stepping up as the other hit a lull. The two combined for the most rushing yards in NCAA history for a pair, and paced Wisconsin all season offensively. Add Corey Clement's steady production into the mix, and it was a very productive and successful season from the Badger backs.

Grade: A

Zack Miller: James White and Melvin Gordon set an FBS single-season record for most rushing yards by a pair of teammates (3,053) so handing out any grade lower than an A would be just downright disrespectful in my opinion. Add to that the fact that opposing teams basically had all 11 guys in the box looking to stop the run and their record is even more impressive. The Badgers knew what they wanted to do, their opponents knew what they wanted to do, and they still did it. If one were to combine White's, Gordon's, and Corey Clement's touchdown totals, the Badgers would have the number one scoring rushing attack in the country with 32 total touchdowns. The scariest part of this group is that they could to be better next season with Gordon and Clement both returning, along with Taiwan Deal, Caleb Kinlaw, Jeffrey Lewis, and a healthy Vonte Jackson. Joe Mixon who?

Grade: A+

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


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