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November 3, 2010MADISON - It's no secret that most Wisconsin fans would like to see running back John Clay play at less than his current weight. Sometimes, though, his 6-foot-1, 248-pound frame works to his advantage.
For instance, while it can be easy to find a speedy member of the scout team that will make guys miss, it's a little tougher to replicate a guy of Clay's size with the speed and running ability that he possesses.
A year ago, that translated into 24-carry, 123-yard, three-touchdown performance for Clay in the Badgers' impressive 37-0 victory over Purdue. Just two weeks earlier, Purdue had limited Ohio State to just 66 yards on 28 carries as they knocked off the seventh-ranked Buckeyes.
"Just coming straight downhill," Clay said of what worked for him against the Boilermakers. "They're a spread team, so they're used to seeing the spread in practice every day. Having our big guys up front and me coming downhill, I think it's kind of hard for them to simulate that."
Against two of the top defenses in the conference, Ohio State and Iowa, the Badgers' No. 1 running back put up two of his most impressive performances of the season. Rushing a combined 45 times, Clay picked up 195 yards while reaching the end zone four times.
Having reestablished himself as the top option out of the backfield, and especially with James White coming back from injury, it would come as no surprise to see Clay get a significant majority of the carries Saturday in West Lafayette, Ind.
While White's shifty, speedy style usually works as a good change of pace for Wisconsin, a heavy dose of the bigger, stronger Clay could be in the Badgers' game plan this week.
Is Clay ready for a potentially increased workload this week?
"Yeah. You know, James is trying to come back from an injury, and I'm putting the bulk on my shoulders," Clay said. "I got the rest I needed, so I'm looking forward to it."
Clay missed some time during the Badgers' 31-30 victory at Kinnick Stadium himself, which led to the opportunity for Montee Ball to stretch the ball across the goal line for the game-winning score in the fourth quarter.
Ten days removed from that physically and emotionally draining battle with the Hawkeyes, Clay said he's ready to go against the Boilermakers. He did not, however, hesitate to acknowledge the importance of the bye week.
"It was some much needed time. Just getting my body back right and just giving us a chance to really get ready for Purdue," Clay said. "I feel I'm about 100 percent. My ankles are good, that rest we had really helped a lot of people on the team that needed to rest to finish the season out strong."