Wisconsin QB Joel Stave out indefinitely with shoulder woes


Monday saw the solving of the mystery as to why Wisconsin tailback Melvin Gordon received so few carries in a loss to LSU. We learned on Tuesday why Badgers backup quarterback Joel Stave didn't play at all against the Tigers.

Badgers coach Gary Andersen announced Tuesday morning that shoulder problems are going to shut down Stave indefinitely; he also said Stave wasn't healthy enough to play in the 28-24 loss to LSU.

Stave (6-foot-5, 220 pounds), a junior, threw 22 touchdown passes as Wisconsin's starter last season; that's the second-highest single-season total in school history. But he also threw 13 interceptions and doesn't provide a running threat, which Andersen prefers in his quarterbacks.

Thus, the move to Tanner McEvoy (6-6, 222), a junior who moved to safety last season after he was beaten out for the starting quarterback job. He was moved back to quarterback in the spring and showed enough as a runner and a passer then and in fall camp to get the starting nod.

But McEvoy was bad against LSU, going 8-of-24 for 50 yards, with two interceptions, while playing the whole game. He did rush for 40 yards on six carries, though, and you would think that Badgers coaches will make more use of his running skills as the season progresses even with Gordon and Corey Clement at tailback.

With Stave out, sophomore Bart Houston (6-4, 218) should become the No. 2 quarterback, and Houston likely will see time on Saturday when the Badgers play FCS opponent Western Illinois. Still, there's no doubt Wisconsin coaches need McEvoy to play better than he did in the opener; if he struggles this week, it's hard to see him keeping his job even if the Badgers keep winning.

Wisconsin's schedule isn't all that daunting, frankly, until November, especially since games against Bowling Green (its defense was shredded by Western Kentucky) in September and Northwestern (which lost to California in its opener) in October don't look all that tough anymore. While Wisconsin can win in September and October with mediocre quarterback play, that won't be the case in November, when games against Iowa, Nebraska and Minnesota are on the schedule.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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