After the Arizona State game, running backs coach John Settle admitted that James White needed to get more carries.
In the Badgers 70-3 trouncing of Austin Peay, the freshman tailback showed everyone why.
White ran the ball 11 times for 145 yards and four touchdowns (including the first of his career) and displayed the speed and elusiveness the UW coaching staff raved about all offseason. His 66-yard touchdown run on a play off left-tackle in the first quarter highlighted a special day for entire Badger offense.
“As soon as I got the ball, it was just Bradie, our fullback, and the corner out there,” White said. “As soon as he cut him, it was just me and the open field and I had to run away with it.
“I felt somebody coming, I got a little slow toward the end. He dove at my feet and I felt him miss and I was like, ‘thank goodness’.”
Head coach Bret Bielema said he had a feeling that third down play call was a good one.
“We thought that first third and short he was going to get around the edge and when we called it, I said, ‘watch him go’ and that’s exactly what happened,” Bielema said. “Because he’s not out there every down, he comes in with those fresh legs and it really benefits everybody.”
White’s three additional touchdowns all came on runs over 10 yards, including a 19-yarder where White escaped several attempted tackles until finally diving over the goal line for another impressive score.
But the Badgers weren’t at all surprised by White’s spectacular performance due to the way the Fort Lauderdale native works in practice. Senior captain Culmer St. Jean revealed after the game that White isn’t your average freshman.
“I say it everyday in practice that boy is good. You can’t coach that — he’s a naturally talented kid,” St. Jean said. “He just comes in and works. You get the same kid everyday and it’s hard to get that type of consistency from a freshman. We joke around because he’s like a fifth year senior out there.”
Now, White wasn’t the only Badger back not named Clay to turn heads Saturday.
Running back Bradie Ewing scored his first touchdown since 2008 on a run straight up the middle to open the scoring.
It had been a while since the junior produced points, and Ewing, who has been lining up at fullback for UW, acknowledged his excitement when he pounded his way into the endzone.
“It was awesome just to help the team score some points,” Ewing said. “The fullback doesn’t exactly get all the glory but as long as we’re winning I’m happy.”
According to Bielema, Ewing wasn’t the only one happy to see a fullback cross the goal line.
“When Bradie got in the endzone the whole sideline was smiling,” he said. “He’s well respected by everybody.”
Garner plays both sides
With the depth UW currently has at wide receiver, freshman Manasseh Garner has a hard time seeing the field despite the strong impression he made during fall camp.
But with Chris Borland sidelined with a shoulder injury, Garner who played both sides of the ball in high school, has stepped in as a defensive end during passing situations to help get pressure on the quarterback.
“He’s got great instincts pass rush wise,” Bielema said. “He played rush end all of two days — Tuesday and Wednesday — kind of shined it up on Thursday and we went with it today.”
Two positions may be a lot to handle for a freshman, but Garner just wants to contribute any way he can during his first season.
“Coach offered me an opportunity to get on the field and I’ve been wanting to get on the field and help the team out any way possible,” Garner said. “This was just an opportunity I took advantage of.”