Joel Stave, Tanner McEvoy to compete for Badgers QB spot
CHICAGO—Home watering his trees that border a golf course in Madison, Wisconsin football coach Gary Andersen recently entertained an unexpected visitor: UW quarterback Joel Stave, who was in the middle of his round when he saw his coach doing yard work.
Andersen joked that Stave's right shoulder must be sound if he was out golfing with the opening day of preseason camp set for Monday.
Stave, who injured the AC joint in his right shoulder in the Capital One Bowl and was held out of the final week of spring ball after experiencing pain in the shoulder, assured his coach he was fit.
“He said he felt very, very good and had progressed well,” Andersen said Monday during the first day of the Big Ten preseason meetings. “He was very positive with the way he felt.”
Stave's health appeared to be a concern after the staff shut him down for the final week of spring ball.
Remember that Stave missed the final three regular-season games and the Big Ten title game in 2012 after suffering a broken right collarbone in a loss to Michigan State.
“I feel good about him,” Andersen said. “He's been good all summer.”
Speaking to reporters who cover the 14-team Big Ten, Andersen reiterated Stave and Tanner McEvoy will battle for the starting job and freshman D.J. Gillins will open camp No. 3 in the pecking order.
“It's going to be interesting to watch,” Andersen said. “It was a great competitive battle in spring even though Joel was very limited. The kids are handling it very well amongst themselves and they're also handling it very well amongst the team.
“As far as a timeline, I really have no timeline. I've been through this a few times in my career and it will all settle out just like every position battle does.
“It's just the highlight of the quarterback position. Everyone wants to talk about it. I understand it. I get that.
“But it's no different than the battle that may be taking place at a wide receiver position or what have you.”
UW opens the season Aug. 30 in Houston against Southeastern Conference power LSU. Coaches generally prefer to have the quarterback depth set a week to 10 days before the first game. That was the case last season when the staff chose to go with Stave over then-senior Curt Phillips before making any announcement.
“The kids on the team will understand it,” Andersen said. “The coaches will understand it. And at that time we'll make a statement and have a starting quarterback,” Andersen said. “It may not be until we jog off the sidelines for the first snap at the LSU game, though.”
Which quarterback gets the majority of the repetitions with the No. 1 offense as camp progresses will be telling.
However, Andersen and his staff have devised a new plan for the first week of camp.
The team will hold two practices, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The team won't be broken up into first- and second-string units.
“There is no 1s and 2s in the first four days of camp (and) there's no 3s and no 4s,” he said. “There's an A practice and B practice and everybody will compete.
“They'll get reps, they'll put it out there and it will allow the youth to be able to mix in a very competitive situation with the veterans on the team.
“And hopefully that will allow the cream to rise to the top quicker.”
That structure means Stave will be the lead quarterback for one practice and McEvoy will fill that role for the other practice.
After the second practice, the players will learn during team meetings how they fared that day.
“It's one thing to sit in meeting rooms to see it and another thing to be on the field watching a player taking reps,” Andersen said. “But all of our players are going to get reps.”