braelon-allen-young-badgers-1117

Braelon Allen is clearly the No. 1 running back at Wisconsin. It says so right there on the Badgers’ depth chart.

You might read elsewhere that this just recently happened as a matter of circumstance surrounding Wisconsin’s running back room, namely due to season-ending injuries (most recently to Chez Mellusi) and players no longer on the team. That’s partly correct.

You might also have heard comparisons to Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin’s wunderkind, record-setting back from 2017-19.

Let’s examine both these, starting with the latter.

In 2017, Taylor flashed during the summer – a redshirt season was quickly off the table. He was going to play.

In Wisconsin’s season opener, he rushed nine times for 87 yards and a touchdown. An injury to Bradrick Shaw opened the door for Taylor to get more work -- he started the next week against Florida Atlantic with Shaw out – and he (pardon the pun) ran with it. Taylor rushed for 223 yards that game, one of three times he topped 200 yards that season. He had 10 games overall of 100+ yards and finished with 1,977 yards on 299 carries with 13 touchdowns.

Like Taylor, Allen is doing things rarely seen by a Badgers freshman. He has six 100-yard rushing games – impressively, six in a row – only Anthony Davis, who had 10 in 2001, Ron Dayne (seven in 1996) and Taylor have more 100-yard games as a “true” freshman in Wisconsin history. James White had five in 2010. In other words, it’s not done very often and those that do are, obviously, pretty special.

Also like Taylor, Allen stood out in the summer at running back – as is probably now well known, it was thought Allen would be a linebacker (defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard tagged Allen with the nickname “War Machine” and has jokingly lamented having Allen on defense but that’s what happens when your head coach comes from an offensive background).

However, unlike Taylor, Allen was not thrust on the field quickly. In fact, he was fifth on Wisconsin’s depth chart.

In the season opener against Penn State, Allen played only on special teams (and recorded a tackle). The next week vs. Eastern Michigan he debuted – but it came in the fourth quarter of a blowout taking handoffs from the backup quarterback and not until after Mellusi, Jalen Berger, Isaac Guerendo and Brady Schipper had gotten carries.

An injury sidelined Allen the following week against Notre Dame and he’d get five carries against Michigan, three of those coming in the first half. Then Allen’s string of 100-yard games began. He’s had at least 12 carries and 104 yards in every game following the loss to the Wolverines (perhaps coincidentally, Wisconsin has also won all six of those contests).

Mellusi was getting the ball as well in the first five of those Allen 100-yard games before he suffered a season-ending injury.

Mellusi had been listed as the No. 1 running back on Wisconsin’s depth chart and Allen the No. 2. But that simply wasn’t the case.

In reality, Mellusi and Allen were 1A and 1B. Allen was playing second fiddle to nobody. This can be seen in the snap counts each received.

In the games against Illinois, Army and Iowa, according to Pro Football Focus, Allen received one more offensive snap than Mellusi. Against Rutgers, a blowout in which Mellusi was injured late, both got 20 snaps. Only in the win over Purdue did Mellusi have more snaps than Allen (32 to 16).

Wisconsin’s running back situation – Guerendo is also out for the season and Berger was kicked off the team and is transferring – has left Allen the clear No. 1.

He didn’t start the season that way, but don’t be fooled, this didn’t just occur because of recent circumstance – Allen’s role has been ongoing for weeks.

Here’s the complete rundown of the young Badgers after 10 games:

"TRUE" FRESHMEN
Jackson Acker, RB
Penn State: Did not play
Eastern Michigan: Did not play
Notre Dame: Did not play
Michigan: Did not play
Illinois: Did not play
Army: Did not play
Purdue: Did not play
Iowa: Did not play
Rutgers: 3 rush, 24 yards, TD
Northwestern: 3 rush, 10 yards
Season totals: 6 rush, 34 yards, TD

Braelon Allen, RBPenn State: 1 tackle (solo)
Eastern Michigan: 7 rush, 30 yards, TD
Notre Dame: Did not play
Michigan: 5 rush, 19 yards
Illinois: 18 rush, 131 yards, TD
Army: 16 rush, 108 yards, TD
Purdue: 12 rush, 140 yards, 2 TD; 1 rec., 9 yards
Iowa: 20 rush, 104 yards
Rutgers: 15 rush, 129 yards, TD
Northwestern: Started, 25 rush, 173 yards, 3 TD; 1 rec., 16 yards
Season totals: 118 rush, 834 yards, 9 TD; 2 rec., 25 yards

Markus Allen, WRPenn State: Did not play
Eastern Michigan: Did not play
Notre Dame: Did not play
Michigan: Did not play
Illinois: Did not play
Army: Did not play
Purdue: Did not play
Iowa: Did not play
Rutgers: 2 rec., 34 yards
Northwestern: Did not play
Season totals: 2 rec., 34 yards

Grover Bortolotti, RBPenn State: Did not play
Eastern Michigan: Did not play
Notre Dame: Did not play
Michigan: Did not play
Illinois: Did not play
Army: Did not play
Purdue: Did not play
Iowa: Did not play
Rutgers: 5 rush, 48 yards
Northwestern: Did not play
Season totals: 5 rush, 48 yards

Jake Chaney, ILBPenn State: Did not play
Eastern Michigan: Did not play
Notre Dame: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Illinois: Played, did not record a statistic
Army: 1 tackle (solo)
Purdue: Played, did not record a statistic
Iowa: Did not play
Rutgers: Played, did not record a statistic
Northwestern: Did not play
Season totals: 1 tackle (solo)

Ricardo Hallman, CBPenn State: Did not play
Eastern Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Notre Dame: Did not play
Michigan: Did not play
Illinois: Did not play
Army: Did not play
Purdue: Did not play
Iowa: Did not play
Rutgers: 1 tackle, PBU
Northwestern: Did not play
Season totals: 1 tackle, PBU

Riley Mahlman, OLPenn State: Did not play
Eastern Michigan: Did not play
Notre Dame: Did not play
Michigan: Did not play
Illinois: Did not play
Army: Did not play
Purdue: Did not play
Iowa: Did not play
Rutgers: Played, did not record a statistic
Northwestern: Did not play
Season totals: n/a

Darryl Peterson, OLBPenn State: Did not play
Eastern Michigan: Did not play
Notre Dame: Did not play
Michigan: Did not play
Illinois: Did not play
Army: Did not play
Purdue: Did not play
Iowa: Did not play
Rutgers: 1 tackle
Northwestern: Did not play
Season totals: 1 tackle

Jake Ratzlaff, ILBPenn State: Did not play
Eastern Michigan: Did not play
Notre Dame: Did not play
Michigan: Did not play
Illinois: Did not play
Army: Did not play
Purdue: Did not play
Iowa: Did not play
Rutgers: Did not play
Northwestern: 1 tackle
Season totals: 1 tackle

Hunter Wohler, S
Penn State: Played, did not record a statistic
Eastern Michigan: 1 tackle
Notre Dame: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: 1 punt return, 0 yards
Illinois: 2 tackles (1 solo)
Army: Played, did not record a statistic
Purdue: Played, did not record a statistic
Iowa: Played, 3 tackles (3 solo), PBU
Rutgers: 6 tackles (3 solo), TFL
Northwestern: 2 tackles (1 solo), sack, TFL
Season totals: 14 tackles (8 solo), 2 TFL, sack, PBU; 1 punt return, 0 yards

Have not playedAyo Adebogun, OLB; Owen Arnett, S; Skyler Bell, WR; JP Benzschawel, OL; T.J. Bollers, OLB; Deacon Hill, QB; Mike Jarvis, DE; Alex Moeller, WR; Jack Pugh, TE; Nolan Rucci, OL; Bryan Sanborn, ILB; Garrison Solliday, ILB; Nate Van Zeist, K; Zach Zei, LS.

Out for seasonAl Ashford, CB
Duncan McKinley, LS

No longer with teamLoyal Crawford, RB
Antwan Roberts, RB

*
REDSHIRT FRESHMEN
Haakon Anderson, WR
Penn State: Did not play
Eastern Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Notre Dame: 1 kick return, 14 yards
Michigan: Did not play
Illinois: Did not play
Army: Did not play
Purdue: Did not play
Iowa: Did not play
Rutgers: Played, did not record a statistic
Northwestern: Played, did not record a statistic
Season totals:
* 1 kick return, 14 yards

Tanor Bortolini, OL
Penn State: Did not play
Eastern Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Notre Dame: Did not play
Michigan: Did not play
Illinois: Started, did not record a statistic
Army: Started, did not record a statistic
Purdue: Played, did not record a statistic
Iowa: Played, did not record a statistic
Rutgers: Started, did not record a statistic
Northwestern: Played, did not record a statistic
Season totals: n/a

Max Lofy, CB
Penn State: Did not play
Eastern Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Notre Dame: Did not play
Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Illinois: Did not play
Army: Did not play
Purdue: 1 tackle (solo)
Iowa: Played, did not record a statistic
Rutgers: 1 tackle
Season totals: 2 tackles (solo)

Jack Nelson, OL
Penn State: Played, did not record a statistic
Eastern Michigan: Started, did not record a statistic
Notre Dame: Started, did not record a statistic
Michigan: Started, did not record a statistic
Illinois: Started, did not record a statistic
Army: Started, did not record a statistic
Purdue: Started, did not record a statistic
Iowa: Started, did not record a statistic
Rutgers: Started, did not record a statistic
Season totals: n/a

James Thompson Jr., DE
Penn State: Played, did not record a statistic
Eastern Michigan: 1 tackle
Notre Dame: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: 1 tackle
Illinois: Played, did not record a statistic
Purdue: Played, did not record a statistic
Iowa: 2 tackles (1 solo)
Rutgers: 2 tackles, QBH
Season totals: 5 tackles (1 solo), QBH

Jordan Turner, ILB
Penn State: Played, did not record a statistic
Eastern Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Notre Dame: Did not play
Michigan: Did not play
Illinois: Did not play
Army: Did not play
Purdue: Did not play
Iowa: Played, did not record a statistic
Rutgers: 2 tackles, INT
Season totals: 2 tackles, INT

Trey Wedig, OL
Penn State: Did not play
Eastern Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Notre Dame: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Illinois: Played, did not record a statistic
Army: Played, did not record a statistic
Purdue: Played, did not record a statistic
Iowa: Played, did not record a statistic
Rutgers: Played, did not record a statistic
Season totals: n/a

Amaun Williams, CB
Penn State: Did not play
Eastern Michigan: 1 tackle
Notre Dame: Did not play
Michigan: Did not play
Illinois: Did not play
Army: Did not play
Purdue: Did not play
Iowa: Did not play
Rutgers: Did not play
Season totals: 1 tackle

Kaden Johnson, OLB
Penn State: Did not play
Eastern Michigan: Did not play
Notre Dame: Did not play
Michigan: Did not play
Illinois: Did not play
Army: Did not play
Purdue: Did not play
Iowa: 1 tackle (solo)
Rutgers: 1 tackle (solo)
Season totals: 2 tackles (2 solo)

Have not played
Dylan Barrett, OL; Ben Barten, OL; Ross Gengler, ILB; Kerry Kodanko, OL; Cade McDonald, DE; Gavin Meyers, K/P; Riley Nowakowski, OLB; Isaac Smith, WR; Sean Timmis, OL; Preston Zachman, S.

Out for season
Cole Dakovich, TE
Cam Large, TE (3 games, no statistics)

No longer with team
Jalen Berger, RB (3 games, 24 rush, 88 yards, TD; 2 rec., 17 yards)
Devin Chandler, WR (6 games, 4 kick returns, 85 yards)

"TRUE" SOPHOMORES
Chimere Dike, WR

Penn State: 1 rec., 9 yards
Eastern Michigan: 3 rec., 30 yards
Notre Dame: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: 2 rec., 54 yards, TD
Illinois: 3 rec., 22 yards; 1 rush, 12 yards
Army: 1 rec., -4 yards
Purdue: 2 kick returns, 34 yards
Iowa: 1 rec., 22 yards; kick return, 21 yards
Rutgers: 3 rec., 55 yards
Northwestern: 3 rec., 37 yards; 1 kick return, 22 yards
Season totals: 17 rec., 225 yards, TD; 2 rush, 22 yards; 4 kick returns, 77 yards

Nick Herbig, OLB
Penn State: Started, 3 tackles (3 solo), sack, TFL, QBH
Eastern Michigan: Started, 1 tackle, .5 sack, .5 TFL
Notre Dame: Started, 3 tackles (2 solo), 2 sacks, 2 TFL
Michigan: Started, 8 tackles (5 solo), TFL, PBU
Illinois: Started, 3 tackles (1 solo), 3 PBU
Army: Started, 7 tackles (5 solo), TFL
Purdue: Started, 3 tackles (3 solo), FR
Iowa: Started, 6 tackles (2 solo), 2.5 sacks, 2.5 TFL, FF
Rutgers: Started, 3 tackles (3 solo), 2 TFL, sack
Northwestern: Started, 5 tackles (4 solo), TFL, FF
Season totals: 42 tackles (28 solo), 11 TFL, 7 sacks, 4 PBU, 1 QBH, 2 FF, 1 FR

Jack Van Dyke, K
Penn State: 3 kickoffs, 1 touchback
Eastern Michigan: 7 kickoffs, 6 touchbacks
Notre Dame: 4 kickoffs, 1 touchback
Michigan: 4 kickoffs, 1 touchback, 1 out of bounds
Illinois: Did not play
Army: 3 kickoffs, 1 touchback
Purdue: 3 kickoffs, 1 touchback
Iowa: 6 kickoffs, 2 touchbacks
Rutgers: 8 kickoffs, 4 touchbacks, 1 tackle (solo), FF
Northwestern: Did not play
Season totals: 38 kickoffs, 17 touchbacks, 1 out of bounds; 1 tackle (solo), FF

Out for season
Aaron Witt, OLB