UMass will be without running back Jordan Broadnax for opener with Wisconsin

Charley Molnar will have to keep searching for his next running back. - Frederick Breedon

As if the cards weren't already stacked against the Minutemen on opening weekend, their offense was dealt another blow on Monday.

Jordan Broadnax had spent much of the last week on crutches, watching as the offense that will take the field against Wisconsin take form with him on the sidelines. On Monday news came down that Broadnax, the team's top returning running back, will need to have his knee scoped and will miss the Minutemen's season opener.

The news, first reported by Matt Vatour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette, is a somewhat major blow to the offense in that Broadnax was one of the few known commodities lining up in the backfield for Charley Molnar's offense. Broadnax was the team's third-leading rusher last season with 124 yards and a touchdown in 2012 and had been the leader in the clubhouse for the position through much of training camp.

The Minutemen will now turn to a duo of untested backs in redshirt freshman Stacey Bedell and true freshman Lorenzo Woodley. Bedell, who saw action in two games last season, becomes the de facto No. 1 for the moment as Woodley deals with an ankle injury that has limited him but isn't considered serious.

Vatour had the story on Friday before Broadnax's status was set in stone.

"He’s been having a very good camp anyway. He’s getting a few more reps, but the reps are being pretty well divided," Molnar said. "We’re not trying to wear him out in August. We’ll wait until the first game to give him his real work. ... (Stacey) is probably the fastest guy on the team. He brings and element of speed. He’s our home run hitter."

The running back spot has been one of the key points of interest for the Minutemen throughout training camp as they look to replace Michael Cox and his 715 yards. Broadnax's injury makes the process of replacing Cox that much harder as the Minutemen will face their biggest test with the position still in question.

If Bedell can take ownership of the position over the next two weeks, however, it will be very hard to justify taking him out of the position and Broadnax may find himself as the No. 2 back for the second-straight season.

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