Injury, miscommunication hampered Melvin Gordon
MADISON—Two days after Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon was limited to four carries in the second half against LSU, including three after ripping off a 63-yard run on the second play of the half, coach Gary Andersen revealed Gordon suffered a hip injury late in the first half. Andersen also said he wasn’t inclined to divulge that information after the 28-24 loss Saturday night.
“The scenario was real simple at halftime,” Andersen said Monday. “Melvin had a little bit of a hip flexor (injury). Anybody that knows Melvin could see that on the long run that he broke out there in the second half. He pulled up at the end of that run.”
Gordon gained 63 yards to the LSU 12 on UW’s first offensive play of the third quarter but was caught from behind by safety Jalen Collins.
Corey Clement replaced Gordon and five plays later scored on a 2-yard run.
UW had the ball six times after that series for a total of 19 plays. The Badgers passed on 10 of the plays and ran nine times.
Gordon gained nothing on a first-down run late in the third quarter, gained 3 yards on a first-down run on UW’s first series of the fourth quarter and lost 2 yards on UW’s final series.
He rushed 12 times for 76 yards in the first half and finished with 140 yards on 16 carries, an average of 8.8 yards per carry.
Clement carried eight times for 19 yards in the second half and finished with 45 yards on 15 carries, 3.0 yards per carry.
“We were trying to be smart with him as the rest of the game went on,” Andersen said of Gordon, “tried to make educated decisions to keep us moving in the right direction with Melvin for that game, for the future.”
Asked shortly after the game why Gordon’s carry total dwindled in the second half, Andersen said he didn’t know. Gordon later told reporters he was physically fit.
On Monday, Andersen essentially said he got the injury update from the training staff and didn’t feel obliged to share that with reporters after the game.
“Melvin is going to say he is absolutely fine,” Andersen said. “This is where I get into a real problem. Everybody wants to get into kids’ personal business, and it’s hard for me to be able to deal with.
“If I’m off-base, I’m off-base. All I can do is go by what a trainer tells me and he is the professional. So if I put a kid in harm’s way because I don’t listen to a trainer then I think I’ve got a major issue on my hands and I don’t think I am the person who I say I am. …
“He gave me the information. He gave (running backs) coach (Thomas) Brown the information. And I don’t quite frankly think that is anybody’s business to pass that on to somebody after the game. But apparently it is because that is something I was told to do.”
Gordon acknowledged Monday he suffered the injury on his final carry of the first half but reiterated he would have taken every snap in the second half if asked.
“I still broke the big run,” he said. “I was still good. I felt it, but I’m a competitor and I’ve played through way worse, so I felt I was good.”
Gordon, peeved over the loss, acknowledged that on the flight home to Madison he was still upset about his light workload.
The tension eased after talking to Andersen and Brown.
“After the plane ride home I was thinking about why that happened and I kind of figured that was it,” he said, referring to the injury. “Coach A and Coach Brown talked to me. Coach Brown texted me and told me that was the reason. So it kind of made sense, but I was ready to go.
“It was a misunderstanding, and they were trying to look out for what is best for me.”
If a similar situation arises this season, Gordon likely will handle it differently.
“On game day I just like to let the coaches do their job,” he said. “I put it on me. Maybe I should have really let the coaches know and stepped up and told them: ‘Look, I need to be in there.’
“I kind of sat back. I wasn’t really forceful with it. I wasn’t demanding with it, and I probably should have been.”