8A - Thursday, November 18, 2010
The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom
Gordon adjusts to
new position on'D'
Daily Sports Editor
Cam Gordon isn't used to staying
in one place.
The redshirt freshman spur was a
four-year starter at linebacker during
his time at Melvindale and Inkster
High Schools. But when Michigan
came to recruit Gordon, it wanted
him for something entirely different
- wide receiver.
So Gordon redshirted as a wide-
out in Ann Arbor, waitingfor his shot
to catch some balls in what would be
a high-powered Michigan offense.
But since the Wolverines were
thin in the secondary, Michigan
coach Rich Rodriguez shifted Gor-
"I feel like I transitioned over to a
new position in a good way," Gordon
told the Daily in April after Michi-
gan's spring game. "Playing offense
last year, that's where I wanted to
stay at, butI felt like I had to help the
Gordon started the first seven
weeks of this season at free safety
after receiving a great deal of hype
during Michigan's spring practices.
His hard-nosed style of play was per-
fect for comingup inrunsupport, but
he still lacked some technique when
it came to coverage.
So against Penn State, Gordon
changed positions - again. This
time, Gordon moved up toward the
line, startinginthehybrid linebacker
(spur) position, while freshman Ray
Vinopal took his old spot. Michigan
coach Rich Rodriguez said, being a
hard hitter, Gordon was more tai-
lored to being'a linebacker - some-
thing he was more comfortable with.
"It's Cam's size and mental make-
up," Rodriguez said. "I think he's just
better closer to the ball."
And Gordon doesn't mind. Part
of the reason coaches praised his
attitude this spring had to do with
his willingness to change positions.
Anything he can do to help the team,
"If it's good for the team, it's good
for me," Gordon said at Monday's
press conference. "I'm a football
player and just want to play. There's
nothingto it but that."
.g Interview by Tim Rohan|IDaily Sports Editor
THE BRUISING BADGER BACK SITS DOWN WITH THE DAILY
TO TALK EXPECTATIONS AND RUNNING DEFENDERS OVER
Wisconsin junior running back John Clay ran for more than 1,500 yards his sophomore
season and the 6-foot-1, 255-pound runner has split time with two younger backs this
season for the Badgers. But he's still the big man in the backfield - just like Ron Dayne
used to be. On Saturday in the Big House, the Wolverines face a huge challenge in shutting
ARu stL Pd/ ly
Redshirt freshman Cam Gordon recovered two fumbles lost week against Purdue.
Gordon is all about being physi-
cal - he says it's one of his biggest
strengths - and it's easy totell on the
football field, where he often goes for
tackles with reckless abandon. But
that physicality begs the question:
Why did he start as a wide receiver?
"You try to project the position
when you recruit them, but when
they get into your weight program ...
they'll continue to grow," Rodriguez
said. "Some guys eat their way from
a linebacker to a defensive lineman.
I've seen safeties grow to be defen-
But a wide receiver growing into
a safety and then growing into a
linebacker? That's a special type of
growth - one that fits the skill set
of the physical Gordon. And as long
as his teammates and coaches want
him there, he's happy to be there.
"I just wanted to help the team,"
Gordon said. "That was my whole
goal. And I feel like I've been doing
Lastweek againstPurdue, Gordon
gave his biggest contribution to the
team since he first started against
Connecticut in week one - he gave
the defense seven points.
As sophomore defensive end
Craig Roh stripped the ball from
Purdue ballcarrier Dan Dierking,
Gordon scooped it up and ran for a
58-yard touchdown. The score gave
the Michigan defense unprecedent-
ed confidence, and the unit held
the Boilermakers to zero offensive
For Gordon, it's been a while since
he's felt the rush of scoring a touch-
down. But he's notlookingfor amove
to the offensive side of the ball.
"(Thatplay) doesn't make me miss
scoring touchdowns on offense,"
Gordon said. "It makes me want to
score more touchdowns on defense.
That's the plan - score more touch-
He may notlget many more oppor-
tunities to score on defense in his
career, but for the first time in his
two years in Ann Arbor, Gordon
seems like he'll be staying in one
place for a while.
The Michigan Daily: You are the
defendingBig Ten Offensive Player
of the Year, but you weren't picked
to win the award again in the pre-
season, do you use that as motiva-
John Clay: Everybody has
their own opinion. I just have
to go back out there and prove it
again, like I did this past season.
Having an excellent offensive
line coming back, seven different
starters coming back. Got a lot of
skill guys coming back. The sky's
the limit for this offense and for
TMD: Is there more confidence
on offense having your starting
quarterback, Scott Tolzien, coming
back for the first time in a while?
JC: It feels great having Scott
coming back, just knowing what
he's all about. He's like a perfec-
tionist. He wants to make sure
everything's right. You can't fault
a guy for wanting that. It just
motivates you to be on the same
page as him.
TMD: What was it like splitting
carries with P.J. Hill two years ago?
JC: Itwas good. Justbeing able
to see what goes on in a game,
it was my first year playing. It
felt good, being able to follow
behind him just because he's been
through it .
TMD: Since you got to Wis-
consin, have things gone the way
you thought they might? Playing
behind P.J. and now shining?
JC: Yeah, I'm getting better
every year. I'm putting up good
numbers and trying to be the
complete back that I wanted tobe.
TMD: You had a lot of carries
in 2009, do you ever worry about
wearing down, especially going on
to the next level in the NFL?
JC: No, that just shows what
kind of offense we have. Just a
run-happy offense, and being that
back able to take them hits and
everything. I'm fine with it. I just
monitor myself and the coaching
staff monitors me during practice
so I don't have to take so many
reps and so that I'm safe for the
TMD: You're a big bruising
back, but do you like to run guys
over and then awayfrom them?
JC: I like to build it up, running
people over. I know they think
I'm going to run them over again.
I hopefully surprise them with a
move thenbreak away from them.
TMD: The Big Ten has been
moving toward more teams run-
ning the spread offense, Wiscon-
sin's still keeping true to its pro
style. What do you think of that?
JC: We know what kind of suc-
cess we've had with running the
ball. And we know what kind of
offense we are. We look forward
to making the run game first and
then setting up our passing game.
Then when they like to load the
box on us, that's when our skill
players come in with the wide
receivers and the tight ends.
TMD: In the offseason, you had
surgery to relieve pain in each of
your ankles. What was the result
JC: Right after I woke up from
my anesthesia, I felt a big differ-
ence with pressure released off
my ankles. I was just so excited
about playing without pain for
the first time. I had (my left) done
right after the bowl game and (my
right) in the middle of the week
in April. I'm feeling pretty good
TMD: Did you sit down with
coach Bielema and talk about this
season and the expectations on
you and maybe how to deal with
JC: Yeah I met with him and
just talked about what all is going
to come this year, all of the dif-
ferent awards and different pres-
sures from the outside media
world. Just making sure I'm
focused and nothing comes at me
bombarding, so I know what to be
prepared for. I was mostly listen-
ing, just trying to pick his brain.
He's been around; he knows what
goes on and what happens.
TMD: Have you talked to Ron
Dayne or anyone else about being
in the spotlight?
JC: Yeah a little bit. He just said
you have to give everything to
your offensive linemen, because
without them, you wouldn't be
TMD: You're from Wisconsin.
Did you grow up watching Ron
JC: A little bit. I really wasn't
into college football when I was
younger. I was mostly into the
NFL. I used to watch tapes on
Jim Brown when I was younger.
That's why I wear the No. 32, for
him. I just like his running style
and what he brought to the game.
TMD: You guys have high expec-
tations this year, how do you think
you can live up to them?
JC: Not staying too focused on
all of it. We've got to make sure
we take it a game at a time. Start
with practice first, make sure we
know what we're doing in prac-
tice. And then when game time
comes around, that's when we got
to be able to put out what we did
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