After a typically slow start to the bye week, Wednesday brought Gary Andersen's latest media appearance and a variety of updates. The essence: the quarterback situation remains unsettled, injury news seems to be positive and the staff has been impressed by the team's depth.
Joel Stave, Tanner McEvoy still splitting reps
We're still slightly more than a week away from Wisconsin's next game Oct. 25 vs. Maryland, but at this point, it seems unlikely the Badgers will announce their starting quarterback before kickoff. That's the same scenario that transpired leading up to UW's win over Illinois, in which a JSOnline report indicated Stave would start. Indeed, he took the field first and led the offense for all but one drive.
Yet instead of throwing full support behind Stave, the coaching staff has again given both he and McEvoy first-team reps this week. From ESPN Wisconsin:
"From what I've seen this week, I would guess that's pretty much what it is," Andersen said when asked if they were splitting reps down the middle. "It is a little bit by package right now early in the game planning also. So (7-on-7) was kind of split about every other rep, but we want some young kids to get some throws, too.
"Right now, in practice I would say, Tuesday, Wednesday this week have pretty much been 50-50."
This will likely anger many fans, and I certainly understand. At this point, however, there's really no benefit in naming a starter. Let Maryland continue to have to prepare for McEvoy's mobility while he hope that one of the two QBs settles into a groove. For what it's worth, my money's on Stave continuing to get the starts and the majority of in-game reps until his struggles veer too close to costing the Badgers a game. What would that be? It's all situational, of course, but I'd say three turnovers by halftime and the kind of ineptitude that leads to Wisconsin being down three scores to an inferior team.
D.J. Gillins underwent minor knee scope
The saga* of the fan-favorite freshman quarterback** continues: Andersen said that Gillins underwent a minor left knee scope last week to clean up some remnants of the surgery he had in 2012 after tearing his ACL during his junior year of high school.
Again, from that ESPN Wisconsin article:
"He's fine," Andersen said of Gillins, who was wearing a brace on his left knee on Wednesday. "I expect him to be back at practice, probably, next week. He'll be fine. He's ready to go."
Derek Watt, Warren Herring, Marcus Trotter closer to returning
Fullback Derek Watt (right foot) and Warren Herring (right knee) both went down in the season opener vs. LSU and have yet to return to the field. Herring, as we reported Wednesday, expects to play vs. Maryland. Watt could play then as well, though JSOnline says that Nov. 1 vs. Rutgers could be a more likely return date.
"[Watt] is moving forward," Andersen said. "Has he been out to practice yet? No. But I'm an optimist. What can I say?"
Linebacker Marcus Trotter injured his groin early in the game against Northwestern two weeks ago, but told reporters this week he feels "really, really good." When asked, he said he would try to play this week if UW had a game, though he might do so with "some hesitation."
Melvin Gordon wants Todd Gurley, Jameis Winston to play
As you'd expect, Melvin Gordon had a very honorable answer when asked this week if he would like to see Georgia running back Todd Gurley and Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston back on the field with their alleged autograph-profiting controversies settled. Gordon is of course helped in an on-field matter by the scandals, considering Gurley is largely considered the top running back candidate for the Heisman Trophy while Winston won the award last year.
"People are probably just out to get them," Gordon said of Gurley and Winston. "I really want to see those guys play, to be honest. It sucks to hear they have to sit out. I just really hope those guys can come back and contribute and help their teams out so they really don't hurt their team in any way."
The underlying issue with these "controversies" is, of course, that players are being punished for profiting off their likeness, which, you know, is theirs. We're all likely very familiar with this issue, but I think many, if not most, fans have come to the consensus that this is a college football fact of life that won't be changing any time soon.
Turns out we can count Barry Alvarez among those in agreement with us.
"Do I agree with (the rule)? To a certain extent because I don't know where you draw the line," Alvarez said. "The likeness and signatures? I don't know where that ends. I don't know the answer to that.
"Yes, I think it has to be addressed somehow. Maybe when you use a student-athlete's likeness a certain percentage goes into an annuity and they get something. ... I could see something like that. I could live with something like that."