About a half-hour before Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen was scheduled for the weekly Big Ten coaches teleconference, the Badgers announced that quarterback Joel Stave will miss time due to a lingering shoulder injury. That made for fascinating timing, and indeed, Andersen was on the call as scheduled.
We'll have so much on this situation throughout the week, so for now let's run through the pertinent updates.
Andersen says he didn't think it was the right timing to tell the team of Stave's injury before the LSU game.— Bucky's 5th Quarter (@B5Q) September 2, 2014
Bart Houston is the No. 2 quarterback for this week. D.J. Gillins will get scout-team reps. #Badgers— Bucky's 5th Quarter (@B5Q) September 2, 2014
Andersen on Stave: "It's a tough deal for Joel. He's very, very frustrated."— Bucky's 5th Quarter (@B5Q) September 2, 2014
Andersen on Saturday's game: "I want them to move on, but not forget it."— Bucky's 5th Quarter (@B5Q) September 2, 2014
Andersen says as of yesterday, Badgers weren't sure what to do with Stave at practice. So this would be a recent development, per GA.— Bucky's 5th Quarter (@B5Q) September 2, 2014
Timeframe for Stave's recovery is "completely unknown." Also says it's nothing more than "day-to-day." GA won't even rule out after bye.— Bucky's 5th Quarter (@B5Q) September 2, 2014
Andersen says the team realized there were issues with Stave's shoulder around the second scrimmage of fall camp.— Bucky's 5th Quarter (@B5Q) September 2, 2014
That second scrimmage took place Aug. 18, as the Wisconsin State Journal's Jim Polzin reminds us:
GA just said Stave didn't seem right as far back as the second scrimmage, which was on Aug. 18.— Jim Polzin (@JimPolzinWSJ) September 2, 2014
So there we have it. This author's unsolicited two cents are that Andersen was right not to drop significant news on the team shortly before its biggest game of the season (on paper, at least). Why not continue pumping up the team and portray a sense of confidence ahead of facing LSU? That way, Tanner McEvoy enters the game with maximum confidence, and then you see what he can do.
Of course, McEvoy struggled mightily, especially as the game went on. Now comes the important on-field question: what happens if he continues to struggle, or is injured? Remember, he's a quarterback who excels running as much as he throws (many would argue he's a way better runner than passer). Should he be pulled from the game, Bart Houston will apparently be next in line. The redshirt sophomore is renowned for his strong arm, but he's never been a factor in Wisconsin's last two quarterback battles because of his erratic accuracy. Many considered true freshman D.J. Gillins next in line behind McEvoy and Stave because of his dual-threat abilities (again, that seems to be what Andersen and offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig want, as evidenced by their favoring McEvoy), but he's still behind Houston at this juncture. Houston at least has "game experience": he attempted one pass vs. UMass in August 2013 and completed it for 8 yards.
Needless to say, Wisconsin's quarterback situation has become even stranger -- especially considering Week 2 is just beginning.