Badgers' Andersen still mum on quarterbacks
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
MADISON--Wisconsin football coach Gary Andersen stayed the course Monday on his approach to the starting quarterback.
Andersen twice declined to name UW’s starting quarterback for the opener against LSU, first during a morning radio interview and then during his weekly news conference in the afternoon.
Nevertheless, as reported Friday by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, redshirt junior Tanner McEvoy is set to start his first game at quarterback for UW on Saturday against LSU. Redshirt junior Joel Stave, who started all 13 games last season, is the No. 2 quarterback.
Andersen did reiterate that offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig could choose to play both quarterbacks.
“At the end of the day we’re right where we were,” Andersen said. “We’ve got two quarterbacks that I think are going to help this football team throughout the year.
“And whoever takes the first snap doesn’t necessarily say he is going to be the guy for the whole season.
“We’ve got two kids that want to compete and will continue to compete. That’s where we’re going to stay with it.”
McEvoy’s last game as a starting quarterback came in 2012 at Arizona Western College. McEvoy completed 18 of 24 attempts for 245 yards and three touchdowns in a 42-37 victory over Nassau Community in the El Toro Bowl.
Andersen on Monday noted McEvoy had plenty of experience at UW. He started three games at safety last season and played in 10 overall.
“He has played in big-time games,” Andersen said. “He has been a starting free safety, which is the quarterback of our defense. …
“There is a ton of communication that has to take place. So he has been in that moment. He’s prepared to play in Big Ten games. He has prepared to play in a bowl game.
“I think obviously we feel he is throwing the ball much better to even be in the QB race. He would have had to be solid and consistent throwing the football.
“But the biggest thing for Tanner is the growth within the offense. This is an offense where there’s a lot of checks and a lot of verbiage. It is a pro-style offense that a smart kid has to get back there and understand the offense to be able to get it moving in the right direction.”
Although McEvoy is a much more effective runner than Stave, Andersen insisted the offense will not change regardless of which player is under center.
“The offense is built around the offense, not built around the quarterback,” he said. “So nothing changes at all regardless of who is taking the snaps.”
The UW depth chart, released Monday, offered few surprises based on what reporters saw during those practices open during camp.
Linebacker Derek Landisch, who missed more than a week of camp after straining his right hamstring, is listed as a starter.
“I feel real good where we are,” Andersen said when asked about the health of the team. “I’m glad we took the precautions that we did as we got through about the middle of camp.
“I wouldn’t say we backed off by any stretch of the imagination but we were being as smart as we could. …
“We should be in about as good of shape as you could hope to be walking into the first game after training camp.”
UW’s top three wide receivers are: senior Kenzel Doe and sophomores Alex Erickson and Reggie Love. Their respective backups are freshman Natrell Jamerson; junior Jordan Fredrick, who missed time in camp with a lower-body injury; and freshman George Rushing.
According to Andersen, two more receivers could make the trip, but they’ll likely be limited to special teams.
The defensive depth chart yielded perhaps one mild surprise.
The reserve cornerbacks were redshirt junior Devin Gaulden, who performed well in the spring and in camp, and Dare Ogunbowale, a walk-on from Marquette High School.
Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda loves to use more than two safeties in certain packages and the top four safeties are starters Michael Caputo and freshman Lubern Figaro and converted cornerback Peniel Jean and Leo Musso.
- As expected, Doe is to handle kickoff and punt returns. The backups are Erickson on punts and tailback Corey Clement on kickoff returns.
- Former UW defensive end J.J. Watt and former LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson are scheduled to serve as honorary captains for the game Saturday. Both were selected in the first round of the 2011 draft—Watt by the Houston Texans and Peterson by the Arizona Cardinals.