In a bit of an obscurity, entering fall camp you could argue the running back room for the Wisconsin football team was one that had the highest level of uncertainty – at least on offense. Now, through two weeks it’s safe to say they’ve been able to put those worries to bed – compiling 532 yards rushing through just two games.
The Badgers have three running backs that should continue to get mixed in on a weekly basis (Chez Mellusi, Jalen Berger, and Isaac Guerendo). Between the three-headed attack, they have accounted for 475 of the team’s total rushing yards.
While the Badger’s don’t appear to have a bell-cow in that rotation, I don’t think they’re going to need one. Each back offers something a little bit different and can help keep each other fresh as the season wears on.
Chez Mellusi has proved to be a fantastic addition for Paul Chryst and the Wisconsin football team. Despite not joining the team until June, Mellusi was able to win the starting job and has been the Badgers most relied upon running back. And for good reason, he’s ran for 265 yards on 51 attempts (5.2 YPC). He’s been a good in-between the tackles runner and has shown some burst when he hits the hole. He may not possess great breakaway speed, but he has enough to quickly get to the second level and make someone miss. He’s already compiled nine rushes of ten yards or more.
Jalen Berger didn’t record a carry against Penn State, but we won’t rehash that. He looked good against Eastern Michigan – running 15 times for 62 yards and a touchdown. He should see more work moving forward and serves as an excellent complement to someone like Mellusi due to their similar finesse running styles. Berger’s best attribute seems to be his patience in letting his blocks to develop, which is impressive for a player as young as he is.
Finally, after having been hampered by injuries throughout his career – we’re able to see what Isaac Guerendo can bring to the table. He’s looked great in the carries he’s gotten – registering 148 yards rushing on just 17 attempts (8.7 YPC). He hits the hole hard and has looked explosive when given the opportunity. Last week Guerendo showed off his top-end speed on an 82-yard touchdown run – which was the 8th longest in school history.
Guerendo should also see carries each week because he adds an element the others don’t as a home run hitter. It might be fun to see him deployed on the jet-sweep, much like the Badgers did with Melvin Gordon back in the day.
Through two weeks the Badgers rank 13th in the country in rushing yards per game (263). One thing worth monitoring though is the fact Wisconsin has registered 53 runs of 3 yards or fewer – 29 of which were on 1st down.
Overall, I’ve been impressed by the position group and they will clearly be relied upon as the focal point of the offense.