Redshirt freshman quarterback Joel Stave continues to progress in his return from a broken collarbone, taking part on a limited basis during the University of Wisconsin football team’s practice on Sunday.
Stave participated in individual drills and 7-on-7 passing drills, where there was no pass rush. Coaches and players were not available for interviews afterward, but Stave appeared to throw with no discomfort.
During the first Rose Bowl practice on Saturday, Stave threw on the sidelines with trainers. That apparently went well enough that he was cleared to start throwing in practice.
Stave’s return to practice comes six weeks after he broke his left collarbone against Michigan State on Oct. 27. The original diagnosis called for him to be out for eight weeks, which made a return for the Rose Bowl game against Stanford on Jan. 1 seem unlikely.
Former UW coach Bret Bielema said prior to the Big Ten Conference championship game on Dec. 1 that Stave — who made six starts after taking over for an ineffective Danny O'Brien — was ahead of schedule.
Stave echoed that sentiment Tuesday while being interviewed in the wake of Bielema's decision to take the coaching job at Arkansas.
"Collarbone-wise, I feel a lot better," he said. "I'm moving again."
Senior Curt Phillips got all of the work with the No. 1 offense and threw the ball with much more zip than he showed in the last practices open to the media during preseason camp.
Phillips made a perfect throw on an early out route to Jordan Fredrick, who made a tough catch against tight coverage from cornerback Darius Hillary.
It seems highly unlikely the coaches would switch starting quarterbacks at this point. However, if Stave continues to progress, the coaches might want to give him a couple series in the Rose Bowl to see what he can do.
Stave also might be prepared in case the Badgers fall behind and have to throw more.
Either scenario gives Stanford’s defense something else to think about leading up to the game.
Stave was noncommittal about his readiness for the game.
"You know, we'll see," he said. "We'll see how it continues to heal."
After being short-handed at quarterback the past few years, it was unusual to see seven quarterbacks suited up for practice.
Phillips, Danny O’Brien and Stave were the only ones who did anything beyond individual drills.
Freshman Bart Houston, who has been cleared to throw late in the season after offseason shoulder surgery, showed a strong arm and no lingering effects from his surgery.
The other three quarterbacks are all freshman walk-ons: Chase Knox, Thad Armstrong and Clay Rust.