Badgers football: It's QB or bust for Tanner McEvoy

2014-04-10T05:10:00Z Badgers football: It's QB or bust for Tanner McEvoyTOM MULHERN | tmulhern@madison.com | 608-252-6169 madison.com

Tanner McEvoy still gets questions about a contingency plan if he isn’t the University of Wisconsin football team’s starting quarterback.

Blame that on the junior playing so well at safety last season after getting thrown into the position after the season started.

McEvoy was asked yet again this week if going back to quarterback is a permanent move. He left little doubt: It’s quarterback or bust for the former junior college transfer.

“That’s what we discussed,” McEvoy said of the move from safety to quarterback. “I want to play quarterback and right now I’m playing quarterback. Until they say otherwise, that’s what I’m sticking with.”

With the decision this week to shut down junior Joel Stave, the returning starter, due to lingering pain in the right shoulder he injured in the Capital One Bowl, McEvoy has taken over the No. 1 spot for now.

Stave and McEvoy came into the final week of the spring as 1A and 1B, according to UW coach Gary Andersen, with sophomore Bart Houston battling for third.

McEvoy has three practices this week — Tuesday, today and the spring game at 3 p.m. Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium — to state his case before Stave hopes to return for the start of summer workouts.

During a Big Ten Conference teleconference on Wednesday, Andersen expressed some concern over Stave’s lingering injury. Since being fully cleared after the return from spring break a little more than two weeks ago, Stave has experienced pain on some throws.

“It’s a concern, it’s an issue,” said Andersen, who listed the level of concern in the “moderate” range. “That’s the reason for putting (Stave) out these last three practices, to try and get a jump on the rehab as we move forward.

“The challenge is to truly identify the situation and then start the rehab process. I didn’t want to wait a week and have him go out there and keep doing the same things.”

While fans have questioned Stave’s decision not to slide on the play when he was injured in the bowl game, no one questions his toughness.

“We’ve all seen him play a lot of games, he’s a tough-minded kid,” Andersen said. “We’ve got to get him as close to 100 percent (as possible). It’s continually creating competition and he wants to get out there and fight in that competition, because it is a competition at that spot, just like every position we have.”

McEvoy blames himself for not grasping the offense more quickly when he first arrived last summer. “I wasn’t as prepared as I should have been,” he said. “I’ve learned the offense a lot better.”

Not surprisingly, McEvoy is more comfortable the second time around. He got limited work at quarterback during bowl practices and has been at the position full time since the bowl game.

“Playing safety helped but now he’s played quarterback all spring,” Andersen said. “He’s had 13 practices now and he’s got two more to go and he’s getting the majority of the reps with the ones and you can see him continue to grow and blossom.

“He makes plays, he’s a threat with his feet. The more he learns about the offense, the better he’s going to be. You get some guys back there that are athletic, he causes some issues for people.”

The coaching staff has never hid its preference for a dual-threat quarterback, although Stave’s experience can’t be discounted. He has started 19 games the past two seasons, including all 13 last year.

One of the things McEvoy has admittedly struggled with recently is the urge to leave the pocket too soon and start running.

“Recently, I don’t know why, I’ve kind of had happy feet back in the pocket,” he said. “The next couple days I’m really going to focus on really staying in there, taking my steps and throwing the ball — and run it when I really need to run it, when things break down.”

The passing game has not shown much consistency this spring, regardless of who is at quarterback. Injuries that decimated the wide receiver group have not helped.

McEvoy would love to make a strong impression in the spring game, although the format has been modified due to the injuries.

Andersen said the first half will consist of “thud” running drills with junior Melvin Gordon and sophomore Corey Clement, which means they will be hit but not tackled.

After a break, the second half will consist of two quarters of a regular scrimmage.

“It’s just another practice, really, just the fans can come out and see,” McEvoy said. “We’ve got two practices left, including the spring game. I want to finish strong because that’s what any competitor wants to do.”

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(12) Comments

  1. badfan1
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    badfan1 - April 14, 2014 10:19 pm
    Tanner McEvoy is going to put his foot on the gas and never look back. Joel Stave did fine his freshman year. He was not very impressive last year. He didn't read coverages well or lead the team. It would be nice to have a few more targets at WR. On the schedule, we will have our hands full with an SEC opponent for the next three years. It seems like OSU was given a pass by not having to play UW. They beat us the past two years, but we always give them their monies worth.
  2. Maui Jim
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    Maui Jim - April 11, 2014 11:03 am
    Has height helped Stave throw the ball? Can he run? This team needs a passer to stop opposing teams from stacking the line to stop the run and daring them to throw the ball.
  3. Cornelius Gotchberg
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    Cornelius Gotchberg - April 11, 2014 8:31 am

    "He's not much of an athlete and he's much shorter then Stave and McEvoy"

    Might you expand on that a tad?

    Much shorter? Is he shorter than Russell Wilson or Dree Brees? Their SB stats don't have an asterisk because they were short, do they?

    Not much of an athlete? He ran for 19 TD's as a senior and only passed for 17; logic might suggest he's a better runner than a passer.


    The Gotch

  4. 608ALLday
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    608ALLday - April 11, 2014 7:55 am
    He's not much of an athlete and he's much shorter then Stave and McEvoy
  5. 608ALLday
    Report Abuse
    608ALLday - April 11, 2014 7:52 am
    Lol you really think o?
  6. goldennugget
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    goldennugget - April 10, 2014 4:31 pm
    Coach Anderson was all over the West Coast recruiting when he coached at Utah. I'm sure he was very familiar with Bart Houston. As soon as he took the coaching job here, he went out and got McEvoy and has since recruited Gillans which to me says everything about what Anderson thought of Houston and what Anderson is looking for in the qb position.
  7. hcliff1
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    hcliff1 - April 10, 2014 4:22 pm
    Worse than the qb issues are there are no established WR's to catch the ball. This was glaring even when fat head was here. He begged for someone to step up and take a spot. I don t see improvement in that area this year as well.........Why we are talking badger football I looked at the next 3 yrs schedule and am very underwhelmed. No big 10 powerhouses coming to Camp Randall. If you want to see a big game, pay extra and get travel plans, I dont think so.... The average guy in the stand is getting the raw deal. The rich alumni have another venue....
  8. jayhoo67
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    jayhoo67 - April 10, 2014 8:37 am
    McEvoy brings an added dimension to the QB position with his legs. If he plays next season, which seems likely, we'll probably see the read option. Bart Houston appears to be one of those players with much potential who got caught adversely in a coaching change. This staff is not going in his direction, and never mentions his name. I do find that perplexing as a fan and not very respectful to the player.
  9. bdevil2016
    Report Abuse
    bdevil2016 - April 10, 2014 8:21 am
    I read he led a decent sustained drive at a recent practice but then fumbled the snap at the 1. I am sure the doesn't sit well with Coach Anderson. They need to find a solid QB this season. I don't believe they need another Russell Wilson type, but an efficient passer to give them some balance the with the solid run game. A couple receivers wouldn't hurt either!!
  10. RedPine
    Report Abuse
    RedPine - April 10, 2014 7:23 am
    Best adamman post all year.
  11. adamman
    Report Abuse
    adamman - April 09, 2014 7:32 pm
    Who cares? Wisconsin is a basketball school.
  12. Maui Jim
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    Maui Jim - April 09, 2014 6:46 pm
    I haven't read anything on him yet, does anyone know how Bart Houston has done in Spring training. All the earlier talk of his rocket arm, etc. I had high hopes as he sounded ike just what this team needed to be complete on the offensive side of the ball.
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