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Monday, September 14, 2009
Badgers' Clay to start Saturday

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com


Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Jeff Hanisch/US Presswire
John Clay is starting for the Badgers after a strong showing Saturday.

It took only two games, but Wisconsin running back John Clay is back where most thought he would be entering the season.

At the top of the depth chart.

Clay will make his first collegiate start Saturday against FCS Wofford after exploding for 143 yards on 21 carries, including a 72-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter. The talented sophomore was pegged to take over the starting role after P.J. Hill left early for the NFL draft, but junior Zach Brown outplayed him in camp and won the job outright.

Brown started Wisconsin's first two games and will remain a big part of the game plan.

"Not that anything is disappointing with Zach," head coach Bret Bielema said Monday. "We just felt John, with the momentum he gave us. ... The part I shared with John was: ‘Hey, you got energized. The offense got energized. Our defense went out and played with great energy. Camp Randall went nuts.'"

Clay can be a superstar in this league and Wisconsin fans know it, but he has to perform consistently. After some ups and downs in camp, he has the chance to shine.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin continues to fight the flu bug that swept through the team last week. Several players missed the Fresno State game, and starting cornerback Aaron Henry vomited several times before being pulled off the field.

Bielema said Monday that more than 40 players were sick throughout last week. The worst appears to be over, but two new cases emerged on Sunday.

"You're never going to be totally through this," Bielema said. "Guys that haven't had it, even guys that have had it could get another strain at some point and you've just got to give them plenty of rest at that time. Hopefully, the worst is behind us."