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Wisconsin practice report: Joel Stave takes 1st-team reps, Tanner McEvoy plays wide receiver

The Badgers have yet to decide on a starting quarterback, but does sophomore Joel Stave have the edge after leading the first team during the two-minute drill Wednesday morning?


At the end of Wisconsin's morning practice Wednesday, Joel Stave was under center for the two-minute drill session, while Curt Phillips led the second team.

This certainly doesn't mean the competition is over, but it was the only indication of a preference between the two throughout the last couple practices, where the two have repeatedly split first-team reps.

Both were rather impressive during the morning media viewing period. Stave was 7-for-7 during the two-minute drill (although only one was completed more than five yards downfield), while Phillips was 5-for-7.

Offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig said the team still hasn't decided between Stave and Phillips, but he gave some criteria he's looking for in a starting quarterback after the first of two practices today.

"Who consistently moves the football team, who has repetitive accuracy, who can get us out of tough situations?" he said.

As for other quarterback news, Tanner McEvoy was not taking snaps under center because of a minor wrist injury he suffered during Monday's scrimmage. He did run routes at wide receiver, though, where he had a very nice touchdown catch on a fade route from Stave during red zone skelly drills.

Also, Ludwig said that Bart Houston shouldn't be counted out for the No. 3 spot on the depth chart ahead of McEvoy.

Notes and observations:

-- Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda said the Badgers' defense has begun to prepare for the spread offense this week. The unit saw Arizona State plays Tuesday, TCU plays today and will be seeing some UMass looks Thursday.

"We're moving into spread, so all the tight ends we've been seeing are kind of going away and being replaced with receivers," Aranda said. "It's a little bit of a different approach by us, but the guys have taken to it. It's what they're used to. I think it's what the Big Ten has become."

-- Wisconsin spent two practice periods (10 minutes) working on wide receiver screens. By the way, that Jared Abbrederis guy has really good hands.

-- Stave threw a nice thread-the-needle touchdown pass to tight end Sam Arneson during red zone skelly drills. The Badgers seemed to use the tight end a lot in the red zone.

-- The offense ran one play where a receiver went in motion and took a direct snap while on the move. They also tried a couple reverse handoffs to Kenzel Doe that seemed to work fairly well.

-- Doe was shaken up and limped off the field at the end of the Badgers' two-minute drill session that ended practice, but it didn't appear to be anything serious.

-- Center Dan Voltz (sore hamstring) again did not participate in drills. The first-team offensive line during 11-on-11 drills, from left to right, was Tyler Marz, Ryan Groy, Dallas Lewallen, Zac Matthias and Rob Havenstein.

-- The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's Jeff Potrykus is reporting that kicker Jack Russell -- who has been competing with Kyle French for the starting job -- has a right leg injury that will keep him out for a while.

-- It was made official today that Wisconsin will open the 2014 season against LSU in Houston.

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