Wisconsin Football: Why Corey Clement Will Have a Breakout Season in 2014

Brian WeidyContributor IMay 17, 2014

MADISON, WI - SEPTEMBER 07: Corey Clement #6 of the Wisconsin Badgers stiff arms Tevin McDermott #36 of the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles while running upfield during the game at Camp Randall Stadium on September 07, 2013 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

Melvin Gordon is the main attraction for the Wisconsin Badgers running game, but sophomore running back Corey Clement is poised to have a breakout season in 2014 for the Wisconsin football team.  A 4-star recruit out of high school, according to ESPN, Clement will achieve big things as a Badger.  

Despite being the third-string back behind James White, who was chosen in the fourth round of the NFL draft, and this year's Heisman candidate Melvin Gordon, Clement made a strong impression as a freshman and looks to build on that in his sophomore year.

Since 1993, the Badgers have featured 21 1,000-yard seasons out of their running backs, and the team has featured a 1,000-yard rusher every year since 2005.  With a strong offensive line returning, Clement should hear his name called many times. Last year, the team ran nearly 43 times per game, with that number potentially going up, as question marks abound at wide receiver and quarterback.

Last season, the team averaged the eighth most rushing yards with a staggering 283.8 yards per game.  While the duo of Gordon and White combined for more than 3,000 on their own, Clement, in limited work—he only had 67 carries—made the most of them, averaging 8.2 yards per carry.  Clement also picked up seven touchdowns along the way.

While many of his carries came toward the end of the game, Clement also provided yards in key situations.  In the Big Ten, he played in four games, scoring in three of them and breaking 100 yards, while scoring twice against Indiana on only 11 carries.  Furthermore, in the team's bowl game against South Carolina, Clement made the most of his one carry, scampering 32 yards, the longest carry of the day.

MADISON, WI - SEPTEMBER 07: Corey Clement #6 of the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles celebrates after running for a touchdown during the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium on September 07, 2013 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mike McG
Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

While not quite the same home run threat that Gordon is, Clement can provide a strong between-the-tackles punch to help fill the void left by White.  If Clement can continue on the high trajectory he set from his first day on campus, the Badgers running game won't skip a beat from their record-setting year last year.

Clement is likely to see 200 or so carries and projecting 1,000 or more yards is not out of the question.  While the team will be seeing some stacked eight-man boxes until they show they can throw the ball, Clement's numbers could be depressed a bit; however, with a relatively soft Big Ten schedule, 1,000 yards and 10 or more touchdowns out of this sophomore seems not only realistic, but likely.