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A hip flexor injury is apparently the reason Melvin Gordon touched the ball just four times in the second half against LSU.
'I wanted to be in there'
By ZACH HEILPRIN
MADSION - Melvin Gordon should have been more involved in the second half of Saturday night’s 28-24 loss to No. 13 LSU. And the University of Wisconsin running back said he places most of the blame on himself for that not happening.
The confusion about Gordon’s role after halftime stemmed from UW coach Gary Andersen telling the media in his postgame press conference that Gordon was, “OK”, and he, “didn’t know”, why he touched the ball just three times after opening the third quarter with a 63-yard run. The running back said the same thing after the game.
On Monday, Andersen revealed what he didn’t on Saturday.
“The scenario was real simple at halftime,” Andersen said. “Melvin had a little bit of a hip flexor. Anybody that knows Melvin could see that on the long run that he broke out in the second half there. It was very obvious that he had pulled up there at the end of that run.
“We were trying to be smart with him as the rest of the game went on and trying to make educated decisions to keep us moving in the right direction with Melvin for that game, for the future.”
In the first half, Gordon carried 12 times for 76 yards and one touchdown. The injury, Gordon said, happened on his final run of the second quarter, when he reversed field on a carry to the right. He came back left and didn’t see linebacker Deion Jones, who put his helmet right on Gordon’s left hip to bring him down after a 7-yard gain.
Though Gordon said he felt good to go, the trainers told Andersen and running backs coach Thomas Brown differently.
“That's the problem. Melvin is going to say he's absolutely fine,” Andersen said. “If I'm off base, I'm off base. But all I can do is go by what a trainer tells me. And he's the professional. So if I put a kid in harm's way because I don't listen to a trainer, then I've got a major issue on my hands.”
Gordon played nine of UW’s 30 offensive snaps in the second half, carrying the ball four times, and said the hip flexor wasn’t bothering him.
“We were still rotating,” Gordon said of he and Corey Clement. “They put Corey in, and when I got in, I was in on pass protection. I didn’t know what the game plan was. They didn’t tell me. I kind of just thought that’s how they wanted things to roll. I didn’t ask questions. When my number was called, I just went out there and did what I had to do.”
That passive style had him questioning himself afterwards.
“On game day, I just like to let the coaches do their job,” Gordon said of not pressuring the staff to get more touches. “I put it on me. Maybe I should have really let them know, let Coach A know, and stepped up and told them, ‘Look, I need to be in there.’ I kind of just sat back, and I put that on myself. I wasn’t really forceful with it. I really wasn’t demanding with it, and I probably should have been.”
Whether it would have mattered is debatable. But it’s a role Gordon is not used to. He’s been the type of player that takes it as it comes. When he would get hot last year, only to find himself on the sideline, he accepted it. And he did that again on Saturday night, something he feels needs to change.
“I’ve got to realize I’m in a position where (if) I feel like I need to go in, I’ve got to be assertive,” said Gordon, who finished with 140 yards. “I’ve got to let them know, ‘Put me in the game,’ and they will.”
Gordon admitted he was upset after the game at the lack of opportunities in the second half. On the plane ride home he thought about why the ball didn’t come his way in UW’s biggest non-conference regular season game in nearly 20 years. Had he asked the coaching staff, he wouldn’t have been so sour. But that didn’t happen and he eventually got a text from Brown.
“He told me (the injury) was the reason,” Gordon said. “It kind of made sense, but I was ready to go. It was just a misunderstanding. And they were just trying to look out for what’s best for me.
“I was better than what they thought. And I should have made that real clear and I didn’t.”
Clement carried the ball eight times for just 20 yards in the second half. Getting double the number of touches than Gordon left many upset.
“I’m very passionate about the game. I wanted to be in there bad,” Gordon said. “No disrespect to Corey, a lot of people are bashing him, wanting (me) in the game. Corey is capable of making big plays, too. When I leave, the talent level doesn’t drop at all. So the coaches didn’t go wrong there.
“This will only help me become a better leader and I’m just going to build on that.”
Listen to Zach Heilprin every weekday on “The Jump Around” at ESPNWisconsin.com, and follow him on Twitter: @zachheilprin