Ball's backup runs strong at Wisconsin spring game
MADISON Melvin Gordon was looking forward to running the football for Wisconsin with Heisman finalist Montee Ball and James White sidelined for the annual spring game.
The reserve tailback got even more than he expected Saturday, rushing 30 times for 159 yards and a touchdown as the Cardinal earned a 21-10 victory over the White on Saturday before an announced crowd of 10,479.
"With James and Montee not going today, me and Jeff (Lewis) got a lot of reps," said Gordon, who will be a redshirt freshman this fall and will have four years of eligibility. "We knew we would have to get them and we took full advantage of them."
The Cardinal squad was made up of the No. 1 offense and No. 2 defense with the White squad featuring the No. 2 offense and No. 1 defense.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Joel Stave directed the Cardinal to a pair of first-half touchdowns. He completed a 7-yard touchdown pass to Chase Hammond to cap a 10-play, 63-yard drive in the first quarter.
"I'd like to take the last throw of the game back," said Stave, who threw an interception on his last drive and is listed at No. 1 on the depth chart, pending the arrival of Maryland transfer Danny O'Brien, who will come this summer with two years of eligibility.
"It was up-and-down with the new offense and the new coaches but we took a step forward this spring."
Gordon ended an 11-play, 51-yard drive with a 2-yard TD plunge in the second quarter.
"He scored a touchdown in the fall and the neat thing about him is that he got four games of game experience and we were able to redshirt him by NCAA rules," Bielema said. "He will have a lot of good football."
Gordon took full advantage of his playing time to show off his skills and durability.
"I didn't expect to carry the ball that much but I did and I tried to make the best out of it," he said. "In practice when James went down me and Montee had to take a lot of reps. So I was kind of used (the workload) already. It was just going out there making plays."
The rest of the scoring was the result of rapid fire field goals following the first and third quarters. Kyle French, who entered camp as the designated starter, converted 7-of-8 field goal attempts, the longest from 42 for the Cardinal. Nicholis LaPorte was 5 of 8 with a long of 37 yards for the White.
French also attempted a pair of extra 50-yarders, converting from 52 yards but falling short from 57.
"Frenchy hit the ball and those weren't exactly great kicking conditions out there," said Bielema of the temperatures that were in the low 40s with a swirling wind and light rain. "For him to hit five in a row and miss the 57-yarder, that was very good for me to see."