The Wisconsin Badgers football team is eyeing a big 2014 campaign. And just like with all teams — it all starts with quarterback. The Badgers haven’t yet named a starting quarterback but they have made one thing clear. There is one hell of a quarterback competition going on in Madison. It’s being called, “Real Competitive” by offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Andy Ludwig.
The competitors are incumbent starter Joel Stave and the exciting newcomer Tanner McEvoy. Both are juniors, both have certain strengths and weaknesses, and both want to be under center week one against LSU. In what is Wisconsin’s most anticipated non-conference game of the millennium, the Badgers are preparing to head to Houston in about five weeks. Their travel plans are set but the depth chart hasn’t quite been settled yet.
Like many people, I am a firm believer that competition brings out the best in people, the best in players. No matter who is under center week one, you can be sure that he earned the job. Nothing is being given away. This isn’t one of those quarterback situations where people say “If you have two, then you don’t have one.” The Badgers truly do have two quarterbacks that could lead this team to a special season.
One exciting aspect to this competition is that the Badgers possess one of the top, if not the top, running games in all of college football. They have an absolutely dominant offense line and a defense that is in its second year of the transition to a 3-4 attack. What I’m saying is that although the quarterback position is still an important position, it alone won’t ultimately decide the fate of the Badgers’ potentially special season. So…who will be the starter?
The Case For Joel Stave
Do you go with the one year older, stronger, smarter quarterback who has led your team to victory before and shown flashes of greatness — or not? He is recovering from a shoulder injury sustained in last year’s Capital One Bowl. He has shown a lot of guts but has also struggled with accuracy and ball security. Although Stave seems to play his best ball against the best competition. His play in both the loss against Ohio State last year and in the loss at Nebraska in his freshman year impressed me. Still losses I know, but I do not blame him. He was one play away from winning both of those games. And remember, he did finish second in the Big Ten with 22 touchdowns last year. If he wins the job you can be certain that it’s because he showed better ball control and discipline over the summer. Look for his TD/INT ratio to improve drastically; especially with Melvin Gordon and Corey Clement drawing the majority of attention from opposing defenses.
The Case For Tanner McEvoy
Do you go with the new, exciting, rare athletic talent that has the potential to take the offense to a level unseen since the days of Russell Wilson — or not? McEvoy was coveted by many top programs but is an unproven commodity heading into the season. But that unknown factor that McEvoy employs is what makes him so intriguing. He was athletic enough to not only start at safety for the Badgers, but to actually be an impact player. He played pretty well in the Badgers Spring Game, too. Imagine his running ability in the backfield behind Wisconsin’s massive offensive line with fellow stud athletes Melvin Gordon and Corey Clement. The offense would shift dramatically. Running the option, reverses, and misdirection plays would all be on the table — and potentially unstoppable. Gary Andersen does love quarterbacks that can run.
It Truly Is A Win-Win Scenario
If Stave wins the job, the Badgers will have a tough-minded leader who earned the his spot. If McEvoy wins the job, the Badgers will have an athletic specimen that will keep defensive coordinators up for days trying to find a way to defend his dual-threat ability. The team will undoubtably rally around whichever guy Andersen chooses. I am in the camp that believes McEvoy will win the starting job; as evidenced by this previous article. But don’t get me wrong, Stave has shown the ability to be a really effective quarterback at times. Overall, it’s a good day to be a fan of the Badgers. Many big-time programs wish they had one player at the quarterback position as talented as both of these players.
Thanks to the Badgers’ depth at the position, even with a catastrophic injury at quarterback, I’m smelling at least 11 wins for the Badgers this year — how about you?
In college football, competition and depth at quarterback is a beautiful thing.
Check out Madison.com’s take on the quarterback competition: