Wisconsin says Stave not hurt, QB working through throwing issues; McEvoy clear starter

  • Article by: GENARO C. ARMAS , Associated Press
  • Updated: September 3, 2014 - 7:26 AM
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FILE - In this OCT. 13, 2013, file photo, Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave throws against Northwestern during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Madison. Stave is sidelined with a sore shoulder.

Photo: Andy Manis, ASSOCIATED PRESS - AP

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MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave isn't hurt, after all.

But he's still out of the quarterback mix for now for the 18th-ranked Badgers as he works through throwing issues.

Coach Gary Andersen and Stave spoke to reporters Tuesday evening to clarify a statement earlier in the day that an injury was sidelining Stave indefinitely.

Andersen said injury wasn't the right word. Stave said there is nothing physically wrong, but that he's noticed the past week that he's not throwing the ball the way he'd like.

So last year's starter isn't taking part in all game preparations for now. He is throwing and taking part in individual practices.

What hasn't changed is Tanner McEvoy is the unquestioned starter. He beat out Stave in training camp for the job.

Redshirt sophomore Bart Houston will be the backup when Wisconsin plays its home opener Saturday against FCS school Western Illinois. Freshman D.J. Gillins is the third quarterback.

"Physically, nothing's wrong. I just haven't thrown the ball the way I'd like to," Stave said at Camp Randall Stadium. "I'm working through it."

Stave hurt his shoulder in the Capital One Bowl in January. He missed the last week or so of spring practice because of aftereffects from that injury.

This issue is unrelated, Andersen and Stave stressed.

"There's been no re-injury for Joel. He has not reinjured anything," Andersen said. "When he gets himself to where he's ready to play he'll be ready to play. Injured is probably a bad word I guess by choice by me that I decided to use" in the earlier statement.

Normally, backup quarterbacks don't receive such attention. At Wisconsin, it's the latest twist at a position clouded with uncertainty all year.

As a third-year sophomore in 2013, Stave threw for 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions and set a school record with 336 pass attempts. He threw for 2,494 yards and completed nearly 62 percent of his passes as Wisconsin finished 9-4.

McEvoy, more of a mobile quarterback, went to South Carolina for a year before transferring to Arizona Western College. A redshirt junior, McEvoy arrived at Wisconsin in 2013 and got moved to receiver before shuffling to safety following a wrist injury.

In a season-opening loss last week to LSU, McEvoy ran for 40 yards, but was 8-of-24 passing for 50 yards and two interceptions. The Badgers fell four spots in this week's AP Top 25 poll following the 28-24 loss to the Tigers after leading by 17 points.

Andersen hadn't officially named McEvoy as the starter for the LSU game at the beginning of the week, though the team was aware. Andersen said he knew by the middle of last week that Stave likely wouldn't be ready as the backup, though he didn't think it was the right thing to do to tell the team that Stave couldn't play.

Stave did warm up before the game, but made a couple uncharacteristically errant throws.

"I'll be throwing it good, throwing it good and all of a sudden, I'll hang on to it too long, you know, one will sail, one will slip," he said. "Then you start thinking 'Oh I've got to hang on to it longer' ... that's what happens when you start thinking too much."

Andersen earlier said he noticed some differences with Stave about three weeks into camp.

"Our mindset is, we want to get him back in a position where he can practice and at that point we'll be prepared to get him ready to put him in a game," Andersen said. "And I hope that's very soon."

Perhaps as soon as this week even, if Stave shows that he's ready. But there is no definitive timeline.

The competitive Stave doesn't think his issues are tied with losing the starting job.

"That's life — things aren't always going to go your way. It's all about how you respond to it," Stave said. "How you bounce back, how you handle adversity."

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