By Tom Lea
Since Barry Alvarez turned Wisconsin into one of the more potent, and recognizable, run oriented schools in the land, it's been all about power coming out of the backfield. Whether it was Brent Moss in the early 90s, Ron Dayne later that decade, Matt Bernstein, P.J. Hill or John Clay, it seems as though there is always at least one bruiser ready to line up on any given down.
Montee Ball, though he's slimmed down considerably and looked to have added more speed, still fits the bill as that traditional power back the Badgers have had so much success with over the past 20 years. That's why James White, with his elusiveness and change of pace, is so important entering the 2011 season.
He essentially throws off what defenders have become accustomed to when it comes to Wisconsin football. Outside of Michael Bennett and Brian Calhoun, Wisconsin hasn't had a ton of really successful change of pace backs throughout the years. And using those two, along with White as an example, that type of back can be ultra successful if used correctly.
Not only does White have the ability to score literally every time he touches the ball, he offers some versatility out of a position that is clearly one of the most important for the Badger offense to function at it's highest level. He can catch the ball out of the backfield, he can run a wheel route, he can handle sweeps and he can pound up the middle. With a stronger lower body, White may be able to do even more things out of the backfield simply because he'll be better suited to take the hits throughout a rigorous Big Ten schedule of games without wearing down.
When he came into fall camp a season ago, it didn't take long for White to turn the heads of his new teammates. He's not cocky, he's got a bubbly personality and he's really, really good at playing football. He'll be a focal point of the offense this season and he'll likely put up more ridiculous numbers.
If he does, the UW offense is probably going to be just fine.
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