Taiwan Deal Emerging as Go-To Back in the Wisconsin Badgers Offense


As disappointing as the continued absence of Corey Clement has been for the Wisconsin Badgers, it has allowed several players to step up, most notably Taiwan Deal. The redshirt freshman has impressed so far in four games, and had his breakout performance Saturday night in a 28-0 win over the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors.

READ ALSO: Photos From a 28-0 Win Over Hawaii

Deal led all rushers with 26 carries for 147 yards and a pair of touchdowns. All were career high numbers, with his two-touchdown performance duplicating a feat he accomplished against Troy. The Badgers power running game was showed off as Wisconsin totaled over 300 yards on the ground.

Wisconsin Badgers
Wisconsin Badgers /

Wisconsin Badgers

So far this season Deal is averaging 4.7 yards a pop on the way to 62 carries for 290 yards and 4 touchdowns. He’s been a power back the Badgers haven’t had in a while, as he’s getting the job done without breaking off long runs.

After the game, head coach Paul Chryst noted that it was the situation more than anything that dictated that Deal took the first carry of the game, noting both Deal and Ogunbowale would be used plenty while Clement continues to heal.

"“Probably the situation. I think we had two backs that are going to play a ton, and couldn’t even tell you which one necessarily. I think they both, they know they are playing, and we need them both at times.”"

Deal acknowledged after the game as well that it wasn’t really about who starts. The running backs head into the game knowing they will play, and know they have prepared.

"“We don’t really look at that during the week. We just come out and practice. Me and Dare come out and practice. We compete against our defense, compete against each other, the scout team, things like that. We just come out and have fun and have a hard practice during the week. I appreciate Coach Chryst pushing us so hard on those grinder Tuesdays and things like that. When you get to the game, you can be confident in yourself because you put the work in during the week.”"

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Through four games this season, Deal holds a slight edge over Ogunbowale in total yards and touchdowns, although he has taken more carries to get there. Ogunbowale is averaging 5.9 yards per carry on the way to 281 total yards on 48 carries with three total touchdowns. Ogunbowale adds 10 catches for 66 yards, Deal has just one catch for four yards.

Ogunbowale has shown more burst, and it stands to reason as he’s more of a scat back while Deal is a power back. Ogunbowale has a 35 yard touchdown run on the season, while Deal’s longest carry is 17 yards.

The nice things for the Badgers is that these guys can exist together as they bring multiple elements to the game. Deal looks like a prototypical short yardage back, while Ogunbowale has a little more versatility.

I would expect the Badgers to continue playing both early and go with the hot hand, which seems to be what they did on Saturday night. Chryst said after the game he liked the patience he saw from Deal early on.

"“It was good. He’s been working. That’s what I love about this game is it takes everyone. I thought that he’s been growing with his opportunities. I think he’s been a patient back and trusting himself, and that’s good to see. I thought Dare did the same, and I thought Alec [Ingold] came in and did some good things, which means there’s a lot of work going on in front of him.”"

Deal, on his way to a career night against Hawaii, said he wasn’t worried about the numbers, he was just focused on the game.

"“It felt great. It kind of felt normal. I just kept running the ball. I didn’t really look at my stats. I just kept pounding the rock.”"

The Badgers will look for another solid performance from Deal when the Iowa Hawkeyes come to town Saturday for the big Ten opener.

Next: Wisconsin-Iowa an 11 a.m. Kick

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