Winner: Joel Stave
After finding himself stuck in what seemed like second place behind sixth-year senior Curt Phillips for the starting job next fall, Joel Stave was the third quarterback to see the field Saturday at the annual Spring Game.
After struggling on his first pass play – underthrowing his receiver – Stave recovered quickly, completing his next five passes and working the team down the field for an easy touchdown.
“I felt like I was able to throw the ball pretty well today,” Stave said. “The first throw came out really, really poorly, so it was nice to recover really quickly on the drive and finish it.”
Storming down the field 71 yards on 5-6 passing, Stave threw for first down after first down, before the drive was finally capped off by an 11-yard Melvin Gordon touchdown.
In his second drive under center, Stave led the way once again – this time capping the drive off with a 5-yard touchdown pass to sophomore fullback Derek Watt.
By the end of the game, Stave had accumulated 161 passing yards, completing 15 of his 20 passes.
Even head coach Gary Andersen said he was impressed by how polished Stave looked as the spring season came to a close, crediting Stave for his poise.
While Stave has certainly not locked up the job for the upcoming season – junior college transfer Tanner McEvoy will certainly have a shot when he arrives this summer – he has solidified his place as the frontrunner coming out of the spring.
Loser: Curt Phillips
With Stave surging to the front of the pack on an impressive performance in front of over 12,000 faithful fans that showed up for the Spring Game, sixth-year senior Phillips fell by the wayside.
Entering the game, Phillips seemed to have gained Andersen’s trust as a capable veteran candidate for the job, starting with the first team on offense for much of the practices throughout the spring.
So it came as no surprise when Phillips got the nod at quarterback to start the game Saturday.
On the first possession of the game, Phillips orchestrated a 10-play, 50-yard drive resulting in junior kicker Kyle French scoring a field goal.
Despite finishing 8-13 and 82 yards, Phillips threw a number of risky passes, including one that was nearly picked off.
More importantly, Phillips was trusted much less when it came to throwing the ball.
Besides being given seven fewer attempts than his redshirt sophomore counterpart, Phillips was also given much simpler passing plays as Andersen reserved the two long-range efforts to receivers down field for Stave.
Still, Andersen wouldn’t rule out Phillips for the starting job next fall, despite Stave’s Spring Game success.
“I think Curt had good demeanor,” Andersen said. “The turnovers were down. He was poised. He had composure, like he’s had and you would expect from a cagey veteran, which he is. … He probably had a couple he’d like to get back, but so does Joel.”
Winner: Sojourn Shelton
Despite being one of the youngest players on the team’s roster – he enrolled early after graduating high school a semester early – Wisconsin freshman defensive back Sojourn Shelton played beyond his years in Wisconsin’s spring game.
Nearly making an interception on one play and playing physical press coverage, Shelton, one of the prize recruits of the 2013 recruiting class, was impressive. He doesn’t have a choice, either. With a thin secondary that is trying to replace three starters from 2012′s team, Shelton already looks poised to be a key contributor for next year’s squad.
“I think I’ve grown a lot,” Shelton said. “Once I started to see myself progress[ing] in the weight room, putting on weight, getting on the field and making plays here and there [that] made my confidence level go back up and I think as a cornerback you have to have it.”
He doesn’t care what way it is either, whether the minutes come in the secondary or on special teams too.
“He shows what we want out of everybody, that’s to go out and play hard and then be excited when you do something the right way,” redshirt senior Dezmen Southward said of his young teammate. “That’s the kind of feeling coach Andersen wants to get across the team, and I think everybody’s embraced it for the most part.”
Loser: Beau Allen
Due to the entire defense as a group excelling in Spring Game, it was tough to find someone to call a “loser.” So it may come as a shock that senior Beau Allen takes this award. How can Allen be recognized negatively when he didn’t even play Saturday? It’s for one reason and one reason only.
Chris Borland called him a manatee.
When the “Ask The Badgers” interactive event occurred Saturday on the video board, the question the selected fan had to answer was “Who does Chris Borland think is harder to tackle: Beau Allen or Melvin Gordon?”
It seemed the natural answer that Borland would select Allen, a 6-foot-3 ultra-athletic defensive tackle and fan favorite. But, Borland pulled the shocker of the century by selecting Gordon, the Badgers’ running back, citing that Allen was top-heavy or in some way like a “manatee.”
This is a startling turn of events for what seemed to be such a beautiful friendship between teammates. Allen once cited at Disneyland prior to the Rose Bowl that he was the “beauty” to Borland’s “beast.” Borland once compared their relationship to that of Kim and Khloe Kardashian.
How have things gone sour in such a short amount of time? No one can be sure, but hopefully the two have things patched up before fall camp starts.