MADISON — Wisconsin has lost its leading rusher for the rest of the season.
Coach Paul Chryst told reporters Thursday that the injury Chez Mellusi suffered in the third quarter against Rutgers will end his year.
“That obviously saddens really all of us. There’s nothing more important and why guys do this is to be able to play in these games,” Chryst said. “He gave a ton to this team, certainly in production, but a lot of other areas. I’ m sad about that. He’s competitive and he’ll come back on it.”
Mellusi transferred to Wisconsin from Clemson last summer and had an immediate impact, running for 121 yards and a touchdown in the season opener against Penn State. He went on to rush for at least 100 yards three more times and currently leads the Badgers in rushing with 815 yards.
Chryst didn’t divulge what the injury was but a source told The Zone that it is a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Chryst did say the injury would keep Mellusi out of spring practice at least.
With Mellusi out, Wisconsin will count on Braelon Allen even more. The true freshman has run for at least 100 yards in five straight games since becoming a featured part of the offense. He’s averaging 7.5 yards per carry in that stretch and has scored five touchdowns.
But the most carries Allen has had in a game to this point is 20 and he’s battling what he called general soreness and wasn’t 100 percent against Rutgers. Wisconsin will almost surely need others to step up, including sophomore Julius Davis. He carried seven times for 32 yards last week and figures to be the second man in behind Allen when the Badgers face Northwestern on Saturday.
Junior Brady Schipper, mostly used on third downs this year, could also see increased snaps, along with true freshman Jackson Acker. The latter made his debut against the Scarlet Knights, running for 24 yards and a touchdown on three carries.
Chryst said that guard Jack Nelson practiced this week and will be available against Northwestern. Nelson left the game against Rutgers in the second quarter with an unspecified injury.