Wisconsin Football: Reaction to the Badgers' Spring Game

Starting QB Position Still Fuzzy Following Wisconsin's Spring Game

4/16/14 in NCAAF   |   brettbachman   |   4 respect

Spring football practice is all about answering the burning questions before working out the little kinks in summer camp. Blog Photo - Wisconsin Football: Reaction to the Badgers' Spring Game

For anyone following the Wisconsin Badgers, however, there are more questions than answers after last Saturday’s spring game.

The definitive first priority for head coach Gary Andersen and his staff was to figure out who was going to be under center come fall. The quarterback battle centered around four players—last year’s middling starter Joel Stave, mobile but green early-enrollee D.J Gillins, untested Bart Houston and former safety Tanner McEvoy.

Stave sat out the spring game with a shoulder injury, Gillins failed to complete his only attempt, Bart Houston went 3-for-4 and McEvoy, who saw the only real significant minutes, went 4-for-10.

It looks like Badgers fans are going to have to wait a little longer before they find out who their quarterback will be. Andersen, at any rate, says the competition for the starting role is now only between Stave and McEvoy.

McEvoy looked good at times, throwing a dart behind a defender to Kenzel Doe before running in for a 10-yard score in the first half.

“Yeah, it was a great throw. I told Tanner (McEvoy) that he put the ball exactly where it needed to be,” Doe said. “I told him to just give me a chance and I will do the rest and he threw it out there and it was just a perfect throw.”

There were other times in the second half when the offense, especially the line, looked a little shook up. Despite losing eight starters, the defense was consistently in the backfield, causing McEvoy to scramble and throw the ball away more than once.

“I think [McEvoy’s] proven through spring that he's continually gotten better,” Andersen said. “He had a nice day today. He threw the ball well.”

One thing, as always, is the same for Wisconsin: a dominating run game. Corey Clement rushed for a touchdown on the game’s first drive before sitting out the rest of the contest.

The biggest position battle on defense is undoubtedly at safety, and early-enrollee Austin Hudson is still making waves right out of the gate. The newcomer from Tampa, Fla., had five tackles and was able to hold his own in the pass game.

Cornerback Sojourn Shelton also looked good in coverage, getting two tackles and a forced fumble.

The Badgers one definitive answer came in the kicking game, a place where Wisconsin has struggled over the last few years. Jack Russell converted on two of his three attempts, the longest coming from 41 yards. Andrew Endicott, Andersen’s other option at kicker, missed his only attempt from 35 yards.

“[Russell’s] hitting the ball pretty cleanly,” Andersen said. “It came off his foot a couple times pretty nice today.”  

For the most part, it was a successful day for Andersen and his staff. No spring game is going to shine a definitive light on the winner of every position battle, though it’s going to be a long road to the Badgers’ first game against the LSU Tigers this fall for the quarterbacks, especially Stave.

After losing so much veteran leadership last year both sides of the ball, Wisconsin has a lot of holes to fill that will take a while to patch up. Only time will tell where the Badgers will be in four months’ time.

*Brett Bachman is the sports editor at The Daily Cardinal, therefore all quotes were obtained first-hand.

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