The starting quarterback spot for the Wisconsin Badgers appears to be set — at least for one game.
Redshirt junior Tanner McEvoy is starting over Joel Stave in the Badgers’ season opener against Louisiana State University on Aug. 30, according to an anonymously-sourced report in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
It’s been two years since McEvoy has started a game at quarterback, which could provide for some rust as he is thrust into game action, but by choosing McEvoy, Badgers head coach Gary Andersen seems to be opting for a more athletic quarterback over experience.
McEvoy transferred to Wisconsin after the 2012 season, moving to the defensive side of the ball after he didn’t get the starting quarterback spot. He impressed defensive coaches in his 10 games at safety in 2013 but moved back to quarterback for spring practices this season, trying to beat out Stave for the starting job.
Stave has started 19 games for the University of Wisconsin over the course of his career and started all 13 last season. In 2013, Stave threw for 2,494 yards and 22 touchdowns with 13 interceptions.
But Stave’s numbers on the ground were far from impressive, as he rushed 37 times for minus-22 yards. McEvoy’s running ability could allow the Badgers offense to get creative with Melvin Gordon and Corey Clement at running back, while using a new crop of athletic freshman wide receivers in unique ways.
During his 2012 season at Arizona Western College, McEvoy threw for 1,943 yards with 25 touchdowns, adding 414 yards and six touchdowns on the ground.
McEvoy’s dual-threat capabilities, which Stave lacks, may have won him the starting job. Andersen has expressed he wants a running quarterback that the team can use in multiple ways.
In Andersen’s final season at Utah State, Chuckie Keeton was one of the best dual-threat players in the country and was at quarterback throughout the season for Andersen.
Stave missed most of the spring practice as he recovered from a shoulder injury from the Badgers’ bowl game. It gave McEvoy the chance to run with the number one offense and gain some valuable practice time before summer camp.
Despite missing the majority of spring practices, reports coming from summer practice showed that Stave seemed to have improved and was the leader in the quarterback competition. His footwork improved, and he has gotten better on shorter throws, or “lay ups” as Andersen calls them. Stave is certainly a more polished quarterback than McEvoy and more of a “pocket passer” with more experience.
Even with McEvoy starting against LSU, Stave could still see time at quarterback throughout the season, even at the LSU game. Andersen has said this summer that he would be willing to use both quarterbacks in different packages.
But for now, it looks as if McEvoy will be making the first start of his Badger career at quarterback on a pretty big stage, with the game against LSU just over a week away.