The mysterious absence of Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave from the team's loss to LSU last weekend has turned out to be a mystery within the program, as well.
And even within Stave himself.
After releasing a statement Tuesday morning that Stave was out with a shoulder issue, Badgers coach Gary Andersen later clarified that Stave's problem is entirely mental. He apparently has the "yips," the sporting term for a sudden mental block that has been known to render athletes unexplainably ineffective.
"Is he injured?" Andersen said, according to foxsports.com. "No. Is he ready to play right now? No. I used the word injury, so maybe bad choice of words."
Here's how Stave himself put it:
"Maybe on some level. I've heard of that, too. The yips, a golfer who can't hit it straight and stuff like that. I know I can throw the ball. That's something that since I've been a kid, not even just football, I've been good at throwing things. I could throw a baseball. Give me a volleyball, I can chuck it across a gym," Stave said.
The pressure to win, and to return to the lineup, isn't exactly the best tonic for a mental block such as Stave's. But those are exactly the circumstances he finds himself in after Wisconsin quarterback Tanner McEvoy struggled mightily in a 28-24 loss to LSU. McEvoy completed just 8 of 24 passes with two interceptions as the Badgers opened the season 0-1. But while McEvoy's performance might place a premium on Stave's return, at least Wisconsin's upcoming schedule doesn't.
The Badgers are entering the softest stretch of their schedule, with Western Illinois, an idle week, Bowling Green and South Florida approaching over the next four weeks. Wisconsin's Big Ten schedule doesn't open until Oct. 4 against Northwestern.