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September 19, 2013Follow @JohnVeldhuis
MADISON, Wis. - Fans might be clamoring for running back Melvin Gordon to get more touches for the Wisconsin Badgers, but it doesn't sound like any rep shake up is going to happen any time soon. Head coach Gary Andersen said after practice Thursday that while Gordon has been dominant on jet sweeps and on the edges, he and senior running back James White have both been very effective between the tackles.
"His yards per carry, when you go back to the Nebraska game and then pop his yards from this year on to that, I have no idea what it is but it might be 30 yards. It's a lot," Andersen said after practice Thursday. "I think when you look at his production outside of the tackle box, it's great. We'll take it, but when you put him in the tackle box, him and James- they've both played very well."
Gordon finished Wisconsin's 32-30 loss to Arizona State with 15 carries for 193 yards, but was largely off the field during the Badgers' final drive. White took his place because the coaching staff tends to trust his pass-blocking more than Gordon's, but Andersen said the two tailbacks are essentially even in his eyes through three weeks of the season.
"You want to get Melvin more reps, you want to keep him fresh, you want to keep him clean," Andersen said. "James is the same. We have two starting tailbacks."
Gordon and White's carries will vary depending on the day and the team they are facing, so as of right now don't expect Gordon to take over as Wisconsin's sole running back. His 12.9 yards per carry is crazy, but he's also performing so well because the Badgers have used him in the right situations so far.
News and Notes:
-- Andersen says he expects inside linebacker Derek Landisch to play this week against Purdue after missing games against Tennessee Tech and Arizona State. Conor O'Neill filled in for Landisch, but Wisconsin's most recent depth chart lists Landisch as the starter next to Chris Borland.
"Right now it looks like [Landisch] has made tremendous progress in the last 48 hours," Andersen said. "I would say he's very likely to play."
-- The Badgers had trouble stopping Arizona State's offense after they hit their secondary with multiple back-shoulder passes while the Badgers were in man-to-man coverage, and Andersen said he expects Purdue to test his team deep after watching film from their most recent game against the Sun Devils.
"I'm sure [they] worked on the back shoulder fade, and I'm expect them to put some balls down the field, by way of play action or just [with] a five-step drop and taking a shot," Andersen said.
But even though the Badgers had trouble stopping those plays last week, Adnersen said he's been impressed with how his defensive backs have responded during practice. And in the end, the best way to help them out on the field would be to get more pressure on the opposing quarterback.
"They've practiced well, and the best pass defense is a good pass rush," Andersen said. "We've got to get there two-tenths, three-tenths of a second faster, maybe that will help us and then we can play a little better in the back end."
-- It looks as though wide receiver Kenzel Doe will not play this week against the Boilermakers. Doe sent out this tweet just after practice on Thursday, which suggests that the Badgers will be without their primary kick and punt returner against the Boilermakers. That might mean that the Badgers will have to put Jared Abbrederis back on punt returns, even though they'd rather not risk him getting hurt on special teams.
For more Wisconsin Badgers news, notes and discussion, follow John on Twitter.