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Wisconsin spring football: Joel Stave fighting to remain starter

As the likes of Tanner McEvoy, D.J. Gillins and Bart Houston push for playing time, Joel Stave is hoping to hold onto his starting job.

David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

MADISON -- Despite being held out of the early portion of Wisconsin's spring practice due to a shoulder injury, Joel Stave is trying to get back on the filed and make his impact felt.

Stave was limited to individual and red-zone drills for the first six practice's, but returned to full action once the Badgers resumed practice March 28 following spring break. One difficulty for the Badgers' quarterbacks this spring has been the streak of injuries among the wide receivers, leaving only three healthy for Tuesday's practice. Yet, Stave nevertheless said UW's passing attack has been solid this spring.

"I think [the receivers] have all done a really good job," he said. "Kenzel [Doe] is someone who has already played quite a bit, so its no surprise to see him doing a pretty good job. I think Jazz [Peavy] is doing a pretty good job. He is making sure he is understanding everything, but when he is running the right routes I think he is getting it done."

Stave elaborated about the difficulties of his shoulder injury, which he sustained in Wisconsin's Capital One Bowl loss on New Year's Day. The quarterback said it isn't just one type of throw that affects the shoulder.

"I've never done this to my shoulder. It's just something that I am learning. Something that I am figuring out and it's something I've had to deal with.

"I'll ice it and massage it and try to get some laser therapy. It's just a matter of trying to throw what I can throw in practice and being smart with it outside of football."

Stave then went on to discuss what he thinks sets him apart from the rest of the group of quarterbacks. Tanner McEvoy, who played wide receiver and safety last season after transferring to Wisconsin, is widely considered Stave's top competition for the starting job. Freshman D.J. Gillins has fans excited by his mobility, while redshirt sophomore Bart Houston likely has the strongest arm among the group.

"I think I am smart," Stave said. "I do a good job of managing the plays at the line and making certain checks at the line. I think I do a pretty good job at that. I think we have a good group of quarterbacks, so putting myself ahead of other people isn't my main concern."

Stave also kept his cool when asked about how the quarterback position battle has affected him personally, as this is now the third straight season in which his position is up for grabs.

"I understand that this is the way football is," he said. "Any great team has competition at every position, and quarterback is no different. You want guys who are going to push each other out there and that's how great teams are built."

"You want guys who are going to push each other out there and that's how great teams are built." -Joel Stave

Like other teammates have mentioned this month, Stave said not much has changed in UW's offense this spring. Some sets have changed, but there aren't any new aspects being thrown at the team. He did say that although coach Gary Andersen had mentioned implementing strategy for LSU this week, he had not been told of any details just for the Tigers.

"We have put in some new stuff today, which I am sure would work just fine against LSU, so that could be for them. To say that it is specifically for them, we haven't necessarily discussed that."

Stave mentioned that he was excited to have the opportunity to play a team like LSU and in a nationally hyped game to open the season for the Badgers.

"It's going to be a great test for us. It's a very good team we are playing. A very proven team. They are going to be athletic. They are going to be strong. They are going to be fast. They are going to be ready. We just have to continue to prepare so that we are ready for that game."

Stave went on to say that he hopes continue working at being more consistent this spring, which he views as his biggest area for improvement. He did say as a group of quarterbacks, that is the area they have to work on, too.

"You just can't have an open receiver and miss the throw," Stave said. "That can't happen.

"Obviously I see myself starting for this team again. I want to lead this team for another great season."