Redshirt freshman running back Melvin Gordon’s big day propelled team Cardinal to a 21-10 victory over team White in the Wisconsin Badgers’ annual Spring Game.
Gordon, who appeared in three games last fall before being redshirted, carried the ball 30 times for 159 yards and a touchdown. While both offenses had their ups and downs on Saturday, Gordon provided a sense of consistency.
“Melvin was impressive,” head coach Bret Bielema said. “He almost got stronger as the day went on in my opinion.”
Senior running back Montee Ball and junior running back James White sat out of the game, so running back duties fell to Gordon and redshirt sophomore running back Jeffrey Lewis, who had 12 carries for 18 yards.
“We knew we were going to have to get them and we took full advantage of them.” Gordon said of his carries. “I didn’t look at it as ‘I got this—James is down, Montee is not going.’ I just looked at it as more reps and more opportunities to get better.”
While the running game was strong, the Badgers’ passing game left something to be desired. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Joe Brennan went just 2-11 for 24 yards for the White team, while redshirt freshman quarterback Joel Stave completed 14-25 passes for 135 yards and a touchdown, but also threw a goal-line interception in the fourth quarter.
“Joel continues to impress me [with] his maturity, the way he handles it,” Bielema said. “Obviously, I wish we had that last throw back from the red zone.”
The quarterback position is in an odd state right now for the Badgers, as redshirt junior quarterback Jon Budmayr and redshirt senior Curt Phillips are both recovering from injuries, and transfer Danny O’Brien is not yet on campus.
Many believe O’Brien is the presumptive starter for Wisconsin this fall, but this hasn’t stopped the other quarterbacks on the roster from continuing to fight for the job.
“When I told [them] Danny was coming on his visit, they said, ‘Coach, you have to do what you have to do, and I have to do what I have to do. I’m going to train to be the starting quarterback here,’ and I don’t think either of them have looked back,” Bielema said.
On the receiving end of Stave’s touchdown pass was redshirt sophomore wide receiver Chase Hammond. Hammond missed all of last season with an ankle injury, but he made his presence known on Saturday with four catches for 48 yards and the score.
“Its good to know you can still play football, having not played in so long.” Hammond said. “I get out there and make a few catches and I’m like ‘alright, now I’m getting more comfortable.’”
Hammond is expected to be a part of the group of receivers who are fighting for the team’s number two spot behind redshirt junior Jared Abbrederis.
“There’s a big opportunity for all of us,” Hammond said “Me personally—yes [I have an opportunity], but it’s the whole group though.”
There are still a lot of questions left unanswered about the Badger offense this spring, but once the injuries have healed and all the pieces are put together, we should get a much clearer view of this team’s potential.