After what Melvin Gordon termed a "misunderstanding" with Wisconsin's coaches regarding the reasons for him receiving little playing time in the second half of Saturday's loss to LSU, the Badgers appear set to move on.
In his weekly press conference Monday afternoon, head coach Gary Andersen said Gordon suffered a hip flexor injury during the second quarter Saturday and was limited to four carries in the second half due to the injury. Those comments were a departure from Andersen's post-game remarks Saturday night, when he said he didn't know why Gordon was limited in the second half. Gordon also said after the game that he wasn't injured.
That disparity, combined with the intense disappointment of surrendering a 24-7 lead in the high-profile opener, fueled a mini-controversy and had fans infuriated by a supposed lack of communication between players and coaches. Gordon was stellar in the first half, rushing 12 times for 76 yards (6.3 per carry) and one touchdown. He finished with 16 carries for 140 yards (8.8 per carry) and that one touchdown.
Monday, both Andersen and Gordon seemed eager to move forward into preparation for Saturday's home-opener vs. Western Illinois.
"The scenario was real simple at halftime," Andersen said. "Melvin had a little bit of a hip flexor. Anybody that knows Melvin could see that on the long run that he broke out in the second half there. It was very obvious that he had pulled up there at the end of that run."
The play Andersen was referring to is the first from scrimmage in the second half, when Gordon burst up the middle for 63 yards. It did appear he lost some acceleration toward the second half of the run, though again, Gordon denied any health issue after the game. He received just three more carries after that point.
Monday, Gordon said the injury occurred on his final carry of the second quarter, a 7-yard rush at the 2:15 mark.
"He kind of blind-sided and hit me," Gordon said of the LSU defender that tackled him. "That's the play where I kind of started feeling it a little bit."
When asked later how much he thought the hip flexor hampered his play, Gordon refused to use it as an excuse for missing time.
"Not much," Gordon said. "Not much at all. I still broke the big run with it. I was still good.
"Like I said, I'm a competitor, and I've played through way worse. I felt I was good."
When asked Monday about Gordon saying he was fine after the game (Andersen spoke with reporters before Gordon did on Monday), Andersen, typically an understated speaker, was animated in his defense of the training staff looking out for Gordon.
"Melvin is going to say he's absolutely fine," Andersen said. "This is where I get into a real problem. It's like everybody wants to get into the kid's personal business. It's hard for me to be able to deal with. If I'm off base, I'm off base.
"All I can do is go by what a trainer tells me. And he's the professional. So if I put a kid in harm's way because I don't listen to a trainer, then I've got a major issue on my hands, I don't think I am the person who I say I am. I'm going to listen to people, I'm going to do what they ask of me. [The trainer] gave me the information, he gave [running backs coach Thomas] Brown the information. And I don't quite frankly think it's anybody's business to pass that on to somebody after the game. But apparently it is because that's what I was told to do."
Gordon said Monday that after the game, he received a text from Brown explaining the trainer's decision. It's unclear whether Gordon saw that text before meeting with reporters after the game, but he acknowledged his acceptance of the decision on Monday.
"I was upset, but after the plane ride home, I was kind of just thinking about why it happened and figured that was it," Gordon said. "Coach [Andersen] and coach Brown talked to me; coach Brown texted me and he told me [the hip flexor] was the reason. It kind of made sense, but I was ready to go. It was just a misunderstanding. They were just trying to look out for what's best for me."
Gordon also said there was little back-and-forth between he and the coaches during the game, and that he could've possibly been more aggressive in stating his case for returning to the game.
"On game day, man, I just like to let the coaches do their job," Gordon said. "Maybe I should've -- I put it on me -- maybe I should've really let them know, let [Andersen] know and stepped up and told them, 'Look, I need to be in there.' I kind of just sat back, and I put that on me. I wasn't really forceful with it, I really wasn't demanding with it, and I probably should've been."
Luke Mueller contributed reporting to this story.