Luke Fickell's No. 1 goal for Braelon Allen? Make sure the tailback is fresh in November.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
MADISON – Luke Fickell wants to see Wisconsin tailback Braelon Allen used efficiently this season.
Speaking during the Big Ten preseason meetings, Fickell revealed he wants to see the junior at 18 carries for 140 yards per game.
“Meaning if that is the case, at the end of the year we’re going to have the best version of Braelon that we need,” Fickell told the Big Ten Network. “If you carry it 30 times… it does wear (you) down. You can be 245 pounds like he is and be as physical as he is but it still takes a toll.
“I think we all have to recognize that, and he’s got to be one to recognize that as well.”
Is an average of 18 carries per game a reasonable goal? Absolutely.
Allen has played 24 games at UW and is averaging 17.3 carries per game. He has hit the 20-carry mark in just 10 of 24 games.
The most carries he had in a game was 29, against Arizona State in the 2021 Las Vegas Bowl and in a double-overtime loss to Michigan State last season.
Fickell added he hopes to see Allen average about 140 yards. Hitting that goal would mean significant improvement for Allen.
He has hit the 140-yard mark in six games – against Purdue, Northwestern, Nebraska and Arizona State in 2021 and against Illinois State and Ohio State last season.
His per carry average also would be about 7.8 yards per game, up from his overall average of 6.0 through two seasons.
The expectation is that Allen, Chez Mellusi and the other backs will face less traffic near the line of scrimmage because defenders will be spread out covering multiple receivers in Phil Longo's offense.
“Obviously, it is harder to get into a groove when the box is getting collapsed,” Allen said. “But in this offense I think it will be a little easier to get a couple carries and kind of set the tone and let guys know it’s going to be a long day.”
Fickell’s desire to limit Allen’s carries and ensure he is fresh in the second half of the season is understandable.
As a freshman Allen averaged 7.1 yards per carry in his first six games. That included the opener against Penn State in which he did not carry the ball.
He averaged 6.6 yards per carry in the second half of the season. That included averaging 2.8 in the regular-season finale at Minnesota, a game in which Allen clearly was not healthy.
As a sophomore Allen averaged 6.1 yards per carry in the first six games. His per-carry average fell to 4.8 in the second half of the season.
He missed the regular-season finale against Minnesota because of a leg injury but returned for the bowl game and rushed 22 times for 116 yards and a touchdown in a 24-17 victory over Oklahoma State.
A healthy Mellusi would help. Mellusi has missed eight games because of injuries in his two seasons at UW and his absence has led to Allen carrying an increased workload.
Allen, like most backs, wants the ball in his hands as often as possible. He made it clear he won’t worry about his carries.
“I’ll be fine with it as long as we win the game,” he said. “I want to obviously play a big part in winning the game. But if it’s only 18 carries, that is cool with me.”
Allen, 6-foot-2 and 245 pounds, appears in outstanding shape. He has shared his new diet – no gluten, no dairy products, no fried foods and no artificial sugars.
“He has taken another level of dedication to what he wants to do with his body and it is noticeable,” Fickell said on his first radio show of the year. “He is very strict on (what) he is eating. That combined with the training and he is at another level. I’m excited to see him play.
“We know what he can do. He is on pace. I’m excited to see, come Sept. 2, what he can bring just with energy and emotion by running the football.”

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