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The Other Guys: Wisconsin

How do you stop a Wisconsin Running Back?

Rutgers v Wisconsin
Corey Clement
Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

Each week, ATVS will take a look at a player or two from the opposing team, highlighting what makes their contribution notable, and what weakness, if any, can be exploited by the Tigers.

Linebacker Vince Biegel

A three year starter, Biegel and the now graduated Joe Schobert were the two big playmakers on the number one scoring defense in the country last season. Biegel’s final 2015 stat line included 66 total tackles, 14 tackles for loss and eight sacks. The last two totals were second best on the Badgers. Against LSU in 2014, Biegel recorded four tackles and was credited with a half tackle for loss. More recently, Biegel made his contribution to the “won’t be intimidated by Leonard Fournette” group. Biegel enters 2016 with a slight position change. Under new defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox, Biegel is the new the Field Linebacker. As Billy outlined in the spring, traditionally the Field Linebacker (or F-Linebacker) is is more responsible for plays in coverage.

What could cause problems

As a blitzer, Biegel has some solid tools to work with. He has a good first step, closes pretty well, can generate some decent push for his size, and can cause some havoc when he times up the snap count. Biegel won't be confused for Myles Garrett, but can still mess a team up if he isn’t accounted for. In the snap below, you see a Dave Aranda overload special, where the tackle is in conflict and a miscommunication with the running back puts Biegel into the backfield.

In coverage, Biegel looks to have solid instincts against the pass and does a nice job of picking up receivers coming into his zone along with having decent range.

What can be exploited and how

Biegel will miss some tackles on occasion. Additionally, Biegel might fall under the category of “jack-of-all, master-of-none” kind of player, though he’s upper echelon in all of those areas and will make plays in a variety of ways. Defeating a versatile player like Biegel will likely be a two-part approach. The offensive line will have to at least account for Biegel on every play as he must be respected as a pass rusher. When he goes in coverage, force him to play in pursuit where he might whiff on a tackle.

Running Back Corey Clement

Corey Clement was supposed to be the typical Wisconsin running back in 2015: Glide to 1500 plus yards and establish himself as one of the best backs in the country. That didn’t happen. Clement spent the season struggling with injuries, playing in just four games all year as the Badger offense struggled. He saw a good chunk of action in the bowl against USC, played in the Spring Game and is an all go for Saturday.

What could cause problems

His calling card is his agility and acceleration. Clement hits the line of scrimmage quickly and will burst through effortlessly when presented with space. Additionally he has the ability and vision to not only locating the initial hole but also blocks and openings further downfield. In the cut below, Clement did an impressive job of not only accelerating off his cuts but being able to see the flow of the run, and ultimately find the endzone score, with a little help from the official.

In the open field, Clement does a good job at mixing up his speed to crush tackling angles while also employing quick cuts to elude defenders. Like his predecessor, Melvin Gordon, Clement has the long speed to break off big chunks of yardage. It’d also be unwise to equate Clement’s more finesse running style to a lack of toughness or willingness to engage defenders.

What can be exploited and how

Although Clement is heavier and more compact compared to Melvin Gordon, he is not much of a power back. His balance is good and he will fight for extra yardage but he isn’t the kind of player to run someone over and then bounce up to pick another big chunk of yardage, at least versus linebackers and defensive linemen.

Stopping Clement will start at the line of scrimmage. It won’t be good enough to simply close up running lanes since Clement has the ability to redirect to the edge with ease. The Tigers front seven players will have to make it a point to tag Clement early and often in an attempt to slow him down. Don’t give Clement a clear running lane and swarm him in an attempt to prevent him from reaching open space. If he can be slowed up at the line, the remaining defenders should be able to finish the job.