It's official: Joel Stave has been working with the first-team offense all week and is expected to start Wisconsin's season opener against UMass tomorrow. After nearly nine full months spent handicapping a legitimate quarterback battle, we can finally throw our unabashed love behind the man with flowing golden hair.
Remember how much you loved Stave? I remember how much Andrew Rosin loved Stave, and though he was deliberately dipping his toe into HOT SPORTS TAKE territory, as he is wont to do, he wasn't wrong in saying that Stave could be an all-time great if he starts four years. We have to exaggerate the importance of one half against Michigan State, but it really was a great half of football against one of the best defenses in the league.
I mean, 9-for-11 passing for 127 yards and a touchdown is an one-half impressive line for anyone, but especially against a defense that ranked third in the country in opponent quarterback rating on a day when the running game was bottled up. The game was his step forward from "freshman with potential" to "guy who can win games," and I distinctly remember having a fine Saturday until disaster struck.
Before then, we were just happy to see a quarterback with some gumption. Stave wasn't the most accurate passer heading into the game against the Spartans -- he was coming off a 12-for-25 performance against Minnesota -- but he at least showed confidence under center. Danny O'Brien was shaky-legged, and threw for a nasty 6.08 yards per attempt as a result. Curt Phillips improved to 6.67 YPA over a larger sample size against better competition. Stave's YPA was 9.28 over six game appearances, and that was with a relatively pedestrian 58.8 percent completion percentage.
Poise + arm = someone I have no problem being a homer for. Having Phillips behind him in case of the worst is all the better. I can't wait to see him play, too. That said, you should expect the best because, upon last check, Stave is still the same guy we were giddy about 10 months ago.
I haven't slept in a couple days and I'm still hopped up on Ole Miss-Vandy and #tessitore, but Stave should be damn good this year.
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- B5Q Season Prediction Roundtable: Picks, best- and worst-case scenarios for Wisconsin
- KKSE Episode 8.5: The voice of Wisconsin football, Matt Lepay
- What's Wisconsin's benchmark for "acceptable" wins Vs. UMass, Tennessee Tech?
- Wisconsin cornerbacks unproven, but confident entering Saturday's season-opener
- Wisconsin's 3-4 defense: How versatile can it be?