Corey Clement is good, but he’s not Melvin Gordon

Wisconsin's ground attack is great every year, and Corey Clement should have a big season. But he won't be able to match Melvin Gordon's performance.

| 2 years ago
(AP Photo/Mel Evans)

(AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Corey Clement is good, but he’s not Melvin Gordon

Wisconsin has a well-earned reputation for being able to field a potent ground attack every season. Only once in the last 10 years have the Badgers failed to field a 1,000 yard rusher.

The next man up is Corey Clement, and he’s certainly ready for the opportunity. He rushed for 949 yards (at 6.5 yards per carry), and nine touchdowns as a sophomore backup to Melvin Gordon, now with the San Diego Chargers. Like the explosive Gordon, Clement has the speed to turn a small gap into a large gain. His 47.6 breakaway percentage (the proportion of his yardage gained on runs of 15-plus yards) was the 13th-best mark against Power 5 opponents.

Clement is a good back and will do well, but it is unfair to expect him to repeat Gordon’s 2014 performance; Gordon was better than good.

The difference between the two was significant. Gordon’s 55.4 breakaway percentage was the third-best mark against Power 5 schools. He also led the nation with 40 runs exceeding 15 yards; the next-most was 31 (Duke Johnson of Miami).

On average, Gordon forced a missed tackle on 21.5 percent of his touches, while Clement did on 15.5 percent of his. Gordon averaged 3.58 yards after contact per attempt, while Clement averaged 2.71. Clement was more productive as a receiver, but in the Badgers’ run-heavy offense, being a good receiver hasn’t typically been of huge importance for a running back.

It’s probably safe to assume that Clement will carry the Badgers’ lead back mantle with distinction, and that the Badgers offense will continue to be effective. But Gordon was a special back, and not one who can be readily replaced.

| Analyst

Kevin has been an analyst at Pro Football Focus since 2014, with a particular focus on college football.

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