Wisconsin's quarterback situation grew even more confusing Tuesday night, as both head coach Gary Andersen and quarterback Joel Stave made unscheduled appearances in front of reporters. Andersen said Stave isn't completely "shut down," as a press release earlier Tuesday indicated. Rather, Stave has had issues getting comfortable and is not yet in game shape.
"In practice, Joel is at practice, he's at meetings, he's in all scenarios as far as that stuff goes," Andersen said. "As far as game-prepping at this point, that's where Joel is not with us completely 100 percent all the time. He's at practice all the time; I don't want anybody to say he's not practicing, he's not with us, because that's not the case. When Joel feels that he can do that, Joel will be right back in that process."
Stave injured his throwing shoulder in the Capital One Bowl in January; specifically, the injury was to the AC joint in that right shoulder, and it occurred on a hard tackle while he was scrambling in the third quarter. Stave returned to spring practice without having surgery, though his workload was limited.
Tuesday, Andersen reiterated that Stave has not reinjured the shoulder.
"I also want to make it real clear there's been no reinjury for Joel whatsoever," Andersen said. "He has not reinjured anything. When he gets himself to the point where he's ready to play, he'll be ready to play. 'Injured' is probably a bad word, I guess, of choice by me that I decided to use in the press release.
"Is he injured? No. Is he ready to play right now? No. I used the word 'injury,' so maybe it was a bad choice of words."
Stave was initially not made available to reporters, though he ended up speaking to media in an effort to clear up the confusion of the day.
"I'm not hurt," Stave said. "Structurally, everything's good in my shoulder. I'm throwing the ball after practice, and everything like that, just fine.
"Right now, my arm is just not working the way I'd like it to, I guess. I don't know what it is."
As Stave's media appearance went on, he faced questions about how his current situation differs from his previous instances of rehabbing from shoulder injuries.
"I've thrown how many thousands of balls in my life? I know when it hurts and when it doesn't," Stave said. "I don't know what it is. It just isn't right, I guess.
"Last spring, when I threw, I had a very sharp pain kind of right in front of my shoulder whenever I'd lean back and try to pull forward. Now, that's not there.
"Physically, nothing's wrong. I just haven't thrown the ball the way I'd like to. I'm working through it, I guess."
At one point, Stave was asked about struggles with "the yips," a common issue faced by athletes who frequently have to make similar throws over and over. He said that could be an issue, though he knew that he was likely holding onto the ball too long during warmup throws before the LSU game observed by several reporters.
"I mean, maybe on some level," Stave said when asked if "the yips" would be a way to explain his struggles. "I've heard of that, too -- the yips, the golfer who can't hit it straight and stuff like that. I mean, I know I can throw the ball. That's something that, since I've been a kid, not even just a football -- I've been good at throwing things, I could throw a baseball; give me a volleyball, I could chuck it across a gym. You know, I've just been good at throwing things since I've been young. It's not a lack of confidence, it's not a lack of preparation or anything like that. It's just, you know, a matter of getting back to feeling comfortable and feeling like the ball's coming out the way it should."
As far as the spring and summer battle with Tanner McEvoy, who went 8-of-24 for 50 yards and two interceptions vs. LSU in the season-opener, Stave said that didn't have much of a bearing on his current situation.
"Obviously, being the competitor that I am, it's disappointing to, you know, when you work hard like that for something and it just doesn't go your way," Stave said. "But that's life, things aren't always going to go your way. It's all about how you respond to it, how you bounce back, how you handle adversity. Right now, I've had a little bit of adversity thrown at me and now I've just got to handle it like I've always handled adversity."
Luke Mueller and Jake Kocorowski contributed reporting to this story.