Wisconsin Football: What to Do With Tanner McEvoy


Tanner McEvoy isn’t a stranger in the Wisconsin Badgers defensive backfield, and safety just might be the best position for the dual-threat quarterback come the 2015 season.

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The Badgers struggles at quarterback were well documented this year, and McEvoy was a part of the problem.

The soon-to-be fifth year senior has experience on both sides of the ball, but the Badgers might get the most out of the talented athlete by moving him back to defense.


The week one starter at quarterback for the Badgers this season, McEvoy struggled early and often with consistency.

He finished the year completing 65 of 112 attempts (58 percent) for 709 yards and 5 touchdowns, with six interceptions.

When he was on, things went smoothly for the Badgers.

More often than not, however, McEvoy’s accuracy failed on the deep ball, and his struggles with interceptions caught up to him.

The lowest of the low came in the Badgers loss to Northwestern, when he was benched in favor of Joel Stave.

While he struggled as a passer, he was pretty darn good running the ball.

Rushing for Wisconsin this season, McEvoy amassed 596 yards on 65 carries, scoring 6 touchdowns. After the first half of the season, he was used mainly in brief spurts as a read-option QB.

He did at times, however, struggle to make the correct read on the read-option, keeping the ball the majority of the time even if the right play was to hand off the ball.

At safety

McEvoy came to Wisconsin in 2013 as a dual-threat quarterback, but switched to wide receiver before the season opener. A wrist injury forced him to switch to safety, and in 11 games (three starts) he amassed 27 tackles and an interception.

You can see that interception and 20-yard return, which came in the BYU game, at the 47 second mark in the video below.

After playing quarterback all season this year, the Badgers used McEvoy on defense in the Outback Bowl, even going as far as switching him to number 11 so as to not conflict with number 5 Darius Hillary.

He finished the game with 5 tackles, sixth best on the team in the Outback Bowl.

What to do in 2015?

The Badgers face a QB conundrum in 2015.

Clearly, a change needs to be made. The Badgers head into the season without Melvin Gordon, the biggest safety blanket a Wisconsin quarterback has had in years.

Wisconsin Badgers
Wisconsin Badgers /

Wisconsin Badgers

Without Gordon, there’s a need for the quarterback play to be elevated (heck, even if Gordon was returning, there was a need to elevate the QB play).

The Badgers should have a healthy competition at the quarterback spot in 2015, with returning starter Stave, current redshirt freshman D.J. Gillins, Bart Houston, and recruits Austin Kafentzis and Alex Hornibrook all looking to be the starter.

If the Badgers go in the direction of a pocket passer – a Stave or a Hornibrook – there’s always the option of throwing McEvoy into the mix on offense on occasion as Wisconsin did this season.

McEvoy is clearly a talented athlete, and Wisconsin’s best option may be to get him on the field in any way they can – even if it’s not on offense.

He has experience at safety, and with Peniel Jean leaving, there’s room to step in an make an impact.

Wisconsin should throw McEvoy onto the defense during the off-season, give him an opportunity to make his mark on the defensive backfield in his senior season.

Statistics courtesy UWBadgers.com.

Next: Badgers Getting Crowded at QB Position