With Melvin Gordon gone, Badgers' Clement gets up to speed
MADISON, Wis. (AP) Wisconsin running back Corey Clement was taking a break at spring practice when a former teammate leaned over with a question.
Melvin Gordon is still trying to make Clement better even if the runner-up for this year's Heisman Award is no longer a Badger.
''He's picking my brain, too, just like (when) he was out here a while ago. He said ... `What down front is that?''' Clement said. ''He's always going to be Melvin. He's always going to be competing with me on or off the field.''
Come fall, the bulk of the carries will likely belong to Clement. First, he has to get used to yet another new position coach.
The change was a necessity after Paul Chryst became head coach after Gary Andersen left in December following two seasons in Madison to take the same job at Oregon State. Thomas Hammock coached running backs during Andersen's first year; Thomas Brown was the position coach in 2014 during Gordon's record-setting season.
Clement ran for 949 yards and nine touchdowns on 147 carries last season, which would be a pretty good year at most other schools. At Wisconsin, he ran in the shadow of Gordon, who had 2,587 yards and 29 touchdowns on 343 carries.
Gordon announced he was bypassing his senior season on Dec. 10, the same day that Andersen left the Badgers.
Now John Settle, who was with Chryst at Pittsburgh, has rejoined Chryst at Camp Randall Stadium. For Clement, that means getting used to new terminology and a new leader in the running backs room.
Clement said that he is happy studying under the detail-oriented Settle. Still, Clement likened the beginning of spring to having to start over again.
''I understand it's a business. A lot of guys are going to be in and out of this job,'' Clement said after a recent practice. ''Hopefully, this is my last coach that I stick with, for sure.''
Having Chryst as head coach has made the transition easier in Madison. Before his three-year stint at Pitt, Chryst coordinated potent offenses at Wisconsin.
In his previous go-around with the Badgers in 2011, Chryst's offense featured quarterback Russell Wilson and running back Montee Ball. Settle is also familiar with Wisconsin, having served as the running backs coach from 2006-10 while Chryst was coordinator.
Ball, John Clay and James White were among Settle's proteges in Madison. Settle also had stints as an assistant in the NFL with Carolina and Cleveland.
''I've been in this offense a long time. I'm able to give him pointers, help him along,'' Settle said of Clement. ''He's talented enough where you don't have to do a lot of pointing.''
But Clement has had to do a lot of learning.
''It's crazy, confusing, foreign,'' he said. ''But you know it's all fun, getting to learn the new terminology.''
Early on, Settle has been focused on getting his backs to recognize fronts - just like the question Gordon has asked.
Chryst has said he likes what he sees so far in Clement, especially his work ethic. For Clement, spring ball also means focusing on little things that might be taken for granted with a holdover staff, such as how plays are called and kinds of cadences preferred in snap counts.
Settle indicated that the Badgers won't ease Clement's workload this spring despite his status as the new No. 1 back in a run-oriented offense. But the coaching staff would be ''smart with him,'' he said.
''Right now, I know that he's our guy and we have to take care of the guys that you're counting on in the fall,'' Settle said. ''We'll do enough with him to get (him) comfortable.''