Wisconsin Football: 10 Thoughts on Corey Clement Injury


Via a release from Wisconsin Football’s team Twitter account, junior running back Corey Clement is out for 4-6 weeks with a sports hernia.

The injury, originally thought to be a nagging groin pain, has caused him to miss the last two games. Obviously Wisconsin fans and players are devastated at the news. After rushing for nearly 1,000 yards behind Melvin Gordon, Clement was supposed to be a Heisman contender, and one of the best running backs in college football.

Here are my 10 thoughts on the Corey Clement injury, and how it will affect the team.

1. Poor Corey

Yes, this is awful news for the Wisconsin Football team, and all their fans. But first and foremost, you have got to feel awful for Clement. He had such lofty goals coming in to this season, wanting no less than 2,000 yards. He was so excited to have a chance to be the next great Wisconsin running back. And now, he’ll be lucky if he surpasses 500 yards. While Leonard Fournette, Nick Chubb, Ezekiel Elliot, and Derrick Henry will become household names and Heisman contenders, Clement will be more or less forgotten. It’s hard not to feel bad for Clement.

2. Exposes Offensive line

If you haven’t already noticed, this isn’t your usual Wisconsin offensive line. They are young, inexperienced, and injury-ridden. That was obvious in the Alabama game, and carried over in to the Miami and Troy games. The offensive line is having trouble creating the huge holes that Wisconsin offensive lines in the past had mastered the art of making.

The hope was that when Clement came back, he would be good enough to hide the offensive line’s struggles. With his combination of speed, power, agility, and vision, Clement would be able to carry the load, and give the offensive line time to grow. But now, that’s not going to be possible. This is O-line is going to have to grow up quick if Wisconsin wants to run the ball with any kind of success. What we’ve seen in the first 3 games just won’t cut it against teams like Iowa, Northwestern, Minnesota, and Nebraska.

3. Deal and Dare better grow up quick

A big worry coming in to this season was the running back depth behind Clement. Every great Badger running back has always had great backup. John Clay had Montee Ball. Montee Ball had James White. James White had Melvin Gordon. And Melvin Gordon had Clement. But with just Taiwan Deal, a redshirt freshman, and Dare Ogunbowale, a converted defensive back, there were some question marks.

And now, those concerns seem to have foreshadowed the season. Ogunbowale has showed some flashes of being a good running back. He has 196 yards on 5.9 YPC, and has showed explosiveness on touchdown runs of 35 and 17. He also has been doing a good job catching passes.

Taiwan Deal carries against the Troy Trojans. Jim Oxley photo

Meanwhile, Deal has served as a thunder to Dare’s lightning. He has shown some really potential, bulldozing smaller defenders. He’s not going to make many big plays, but he hits holes hard.

Both running backs have a lot of work to do. They have benefited from playing weak competition, and Hawaii will be no different. But against Iowa, they are going to need to breakout.

Obviously, neither running back is expected to be as good as Clement. But hopefully, they can step up, prove they’re the real deal and form a solid rushing attack.

4. 3rd string running back?

You rarely see college running backs go the whole season without getting hurt for at least a few snaps. So what happens if either Deal or Dare gets hurt? The most likely option is Alec Ingold, a true freshman who was converted from linebacker to tailback earlier this week. This week. That’s pretty scary, especially considering the coaches see him more as a fullback than a running back.

Another option? Caleb Kinlaw. Earlier this week, the coaching staff moved him from running back to corner back. But given the Clement news, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kinlaw immediately moved back.

The coaching staff could also consider burning the redshirt of freshman Bradrick Shaw, a 4-star recruit out of Hoover, Alabama. I could understand their reluctance given the role they think Shaw can play in a few years. But given the present circumstances, they may not have a choice.

5. We could really use Jordan Stevenson right now

*Ducks. Yes, I know, I know. I’m living in the past. But think about how much he could have helped in this situation. Sigh.

6. Schedule is Manageable

Wisconsin’s next 6 games are against Hawaii, Iowa, at Nebraska, Purdue, at Illinois, Rutgers. Those are all very winnable games, even without Clement. Hawaii is almost a guaranteed win (knock on wood). Purdue is typical Purdue team, Illinois is typical Illinois team, and Rutgers may be even worse than a typical Rutgers team. So that’s 3 more wins.

Traveling to Lincoln is never easy, but this Cornhusker team is 1-2, and has looked awfully inconsistent. And if the last few years are any indicator, Deal will probably run for at least 300 yards. Iowa (3-0) will be tough, but Wisconsin’s defense should be able to lock down the Hawkeyes offense. Neither game will be easy, but Wisconsin should still go in as the favorite in both.

Luckily, Wisconsin plays its two most difficult games, #17 Northwestern, and at Minnesota, after Clement is projected to return.

7. Redshirt for Corey?

A few reporters have been discussing if they think Clement should get a medical redshirt.

Obviously, if Wisconsin keeps winning without Clement, that discussion ends. He’ll play if the Badgers can make the Big 10 championship.  But if Wisconsin goes into a spiral, and they drop 2 or more of those games, it may be beneficial for Clement to sit out.

8. The Bright Side

Yes, there is a bright side. Clement is now guaranteed to be back next season. Wisconsin’s offensive line should return 4 starters, and will be much better than this seasons disaster up front. Wisconsin’s defense returns everybody except Michael Caputo, Tanner McEvoy, Joe Schobert, and Darius Hillary.

So what I‘m saying is, next years Wisconsin team will have a chance to do some big things. And Clement will probably end up rushing for more yards next year than if he played behind a bad offensive line this year.

  1. Pressure on Stave

Joel Stave has looked very good this season. But now, defenses will be focused on him. He doesn’t have the run game to fall back on like he did last year. He’s going to have to be even more accurate and sharp. He has to be willing to take shots down field instead of automatically looking for a check-down.

Like I said, Stave has been good. But he’s going to have to be even better without Clement coming back.

  1. Running game creativity

Without Clement, and with the lack of offensive line prowess, Joe Rudolph and Paul Chryst are going to have to be more creative in how they move the ball on the ground. Some jet sweeps to Alex Erickson, some read options with Tanner McEvoy, and a lot of draws and counters are going to be needed if Wisconsin wants to have success running the football. Running the ball up the middle may have worked with past Wisconsin teams, but it won’t now.

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