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Wisconsin Badgers news: Tanner McEvoy works with defense, will play both ways in Outback Bowl

Tanner McEvoy prepares to go both ways against Auburn, Bart Houston talks second chances and more news from the last two days of bowl practices.

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Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

With all the focus on coaching news and rumors over the last week, it would be easy to forget Wisconsin has only twelve more days until the Outback Bowl. On Thursday, the Badgers resumed practice to prepare for their matchup against a very strong Auburn team. Here are some developments from the first two days:

McEvoy ready to play both ways

Junior Tanner McEvoy has been taking first-team reps at linebacker and safety this week, according to Jeff Potyrkus of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The move comes as the defense looks to rebound from its rough outing in the Big Ten Championship against a dangerous Auburn offense. McEvoy's 6’6 frame could help the Badgers control the Tigers’ vertical passing threats, but the Wisconsin State Journal noted that he spent most of Thursday’s media viewing period close to the line in nickel packages, often blitzing off the edge (though he later said other packages utilize him in deep coverage).

McEvoy still participated in his usual quarterback session at the end of practice and told Potyrkus that he will play both ways in the Outback Bowl. He also further explained his role in the defensive scheme to the State Journal in the video above at 3:06. When the conversation turned to the recent coaching changes, McEvoy said he still feels he fits into the program as a quarterback, but has not yet talked with incoming coach Paul Chryst about his role with the team moving forward.

Houston talks fresh start; Senger takes snaps at receiver

Sophomore quarterback Bart Houston also spoke to the State Journal about the coaching situation. In the video above, he seems genuinely excited to reconnect with Chryst, the coach who recruited him to the Badgers in the first place. He goes on to say that the new playbook gives everyone a "fresh start" in the battle for the starting job. Houston, while discussing McEvoy’s return to defense and his own rugby-punting prowess, also mentioned that redshirt freshman quarterback Connor Senger is starting to get practice reps at wide receiver. Senger posted excellent rushing numbers as a high school quarterback at Pius XI -- in 2012, he had 109 carries for 913 yards and 16 touchdowns -- and qualified for state in the 100-meter-dash, so he certainly has the speed and athleticism to contribute at other positions.

Offensive line injuries: Voltz confident he’ll play
Sophomore center Dan Voltz was limited in practice on Thursday. Voltz sprained his left ankle against Minnesota and aggravated the injury against Ohio State, but told the State Journal he fully expects to play in the Outback Bowl. Guards Kyle Costigan and Ray Ball also had limited participation in order to rest minor injuries.