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Wisconsin football: Tanner McEvoy, Corey Clement, Joel Stave impress on offense in fall camp

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We begin our fall camp evaluations, as B5Q writers highlight the top performers, the biggest surprises and the biggest concerns heading into a date with Bama

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Less than one week from today on Sept. 5, the Wisconsin Badgers open the season in Dallas against the Alabama Crimson Tide. Fall camp has ended, with game week preparation now in full go-mode.

B5Q's Curt Hogg and Jake Kocorowski, who covered fall practices, weigh in on who excelled, who surprised and what are the biggest concerns heading into this week.

Top performers

Curt: I really thought redshirt senior quarterback Joel Stave performed well throughout camp. He may not have been incredibly flashy, but he looked consistent. That's exactly what's been missing from his game for much of his career.

The running backs as a whole were also impressive. Corey Clement was Corey Clement. The guys behind him -- Dare Ogunbowale, Taiwan Deal and Bradrick Shaw all stepped up. That should help keep Clement fresh going forward.

Jake: Stave was among the top performers in my book -- as he's throwing with anticipation and has created greater chemistry with his receiving targets -- which includes fellow redshirt senior Tanner McEvoy. McEvoy asserted himself into the ones quickly and was seen as both a deep and red zone threat throughout camp. If he stays healthy and continues his progression as a wide receiver with route running and the little nuances, the former quarterback could provide huge dividends for an offense desperately needing some balance.

One offensive linemen I really like is redshirt freshman Michael Dieter. Senior left tackle Tyler Marz and junior center Dan Voltz are the anchors of that offensive line, and will need to be with the possibility of three redshirt freshman starting this season. Dieter locked down the right guard spot within the first week or two of fall practice, then transitioned over to left guard last week post-scrimmage. He can also play center when needed, and could be the next in the long line of versatile, successful linemen from Wisconsin.

Biggest surprises

Curt: As a whole, I was surprised by how often the Badgers threw the ball deep in practice. Jordan Fredrick made a whole lot of plays, and McEvoy emerged as the next-best deep threat to redshirt senior wide receiver Alex Erickson.

The injuries to the offensive line were obviously a (not positive) surprise. Nobody expected that to happen, but offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Joe Rudolph was high on the abilities of Deiter and redshirt freshman Micah Kapoi. I'll include Deiter emerging with a starting job just two weeks into camp as one of my surprises.

Jake: Think you hit it on the head perfectly, Curt.

The simple fact that McEvoy gelled so quickly with the first-team offense is the most positive surprise to come out of camp. Though due to injuries suffered during camp, Kapoi did emerge to run with the first-team offense in the scrimmage at left guard, and then was inserted at right guard last week.

I'll include Ogunbowale solidifying himself as the No. 2 running back so early in camp. Deal is the "real deal" when running the ball, as he runs with power -- but Ogunbowale knows the offense, has shown his speed and skill during practices and is a greater change of pace from Clement. Not bad for a former walk-on and converted cornerback who isn't even into a year into the position transition.

Biggest concern

Curt: There are still more than a handful of nagging injuries that we probably won't know about until before the Alabama game on Saturday. Redshirt sophomore tight end Troy Fumagali has been out since the scrimmage on Aug. 22 with an ankle. Hayden Biegel (head injury), Beau Benzschawel (knee), Ray Ball (arm) and Walker Williams (head injury) were all absent for the last practice of media availability. On Thursday, head coach Paul Chryst mentioned McEvoy had "tweaked something."

The question marks surrounding the multiple Badgers injuries on offense are the biggest concern at this point.

Jake: I'll take it a step further with the biggest concern being the injuries, but how they'll shape a position group in the offensive line. This is a group that didn't solidify the starters during spring camp, but had a pool of players competing in the early stages of fall camp.

After those injuries, the Badgers have their fourth option in redshirt freshman Jacob Maxwell -- behind Biegel, Benzschawel and Williams -- now at right tackle, though Biegel returned to practice in a non-contact jersey late last week. Will Biegel be healthy and game ready for the Tide? With a hungry and very, very talented Alabama front seven, will the Badgers be able to run the ball consistently and keep Stave upright not just at AT&T Stadium, but the rest of the season?