Will Corey Clement be back in action for Wisconsin this weekend?
We'll have to wait until he gets out of bed Saturday.
“It’s still uncertain," the Badgers' junior running back told reporters Wednesday. "I’m just looking forward to the next day. I’m not really pressing anything, saying I want to play or not. That can only be determined when I wake up Saturday morning.”
Clement has been sidelined for weeks following surgery to repair a sports hernia. He played sparingly in Wisconsin's season-opening loss to Alabama before missing the next two games. After that, the team announced he'd have surgery and miss the next four to six weeks. That announcement came on Sept. 24. Exactly a month later, Clement could be making his return to the field when the Badgers visit the Fighting Illini on Saturday.
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Wisconsin could certainly use Clement back in the lineup. He was supposed to be the Badgers' biggest offensive weapon this season after putting up great numbers in backup roles each of the past two seasons. He only got eight carries in that season opener, and the Wisconsin offense has been middle of the pack in the Big Ten without him. Most noticeably, the Badgers are third to last in the conference in rushing offense, accumulating just 154.6 rushing yards a game. That's a shockingly low rank for a Wisconsin program that's build a legacy of extremely talented backs.
It looked like Clement might've made an early return last week against Purdue. He warmed up with the team and was in uniform on the sideline, but he never got into the game.
Clement said Wednesday that part of that was making sure he was physically ready to go, while the other had to do with his mindset coming back from the surgery.
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“A lot of things go into it, sometimes confidence, how I was truly feeling at the moment, did I want to fool myself and go out there thinking I was 100 percent when I really wasn’t," he said. "You just have to be smart at that point in time. I felt as if they didn’t need me. We got the win out of it, and that’s all I can ask for.
“I kind of let the first half slip away. I just wanted to watch. I think I was a little too hesitant to get back out there, was kind of iffy. But as I went back in the locker room, gave myself a little pep talk, talked to the coaching staff and was trying to give it a go. Me and (running backs coach John) Settle exchanged words and he said, ‘We really don’t need you at this point, so why not just watch the rest of the game and heal up for next week if you’re coming back.’”
His return could be a big difference for the Badgers against an Illini team that boasts one of the nation's top 30 defenses. The Wisconsin offense could also use a jumpstart after three less-than-impressive games in Big Ten play against Iowa, Nebraska and Purdue.