Wisconsin has an opportunity to take the next step as a program this season. The defense is there; both the offensive and defensive lines are stacked; James White will be able to replace Montee Ball in the backfield. The one thing we aren’t seeing in this Wisconsin team is a steady quarterback. And we all know how vital good quarterback play is in today’s game.
Last season, the Badgers opened up with rookie, Danny O’Brien, who really just needed some more time to develop. He wasn’t able to produce and eventually pulled from the job and has since left the program. Had he stuck with it, I think O’Brien could have been a good quarterback for the Badgers.
From there, former coach Bret Bielema turned to redshirt freshman Joel Stave. Stave was having a fine season, until he went down in the second half of a game against Michigan State on October 27th. The only other action he would see last season was a single pass in the Rose Bowl.
Redshirt junior, dual threat quarterback, Curt Phillips, became the third Badger to start a game and went on to finish the season with mediocre numbers.
So as we step into the 2013 season, new coach Gary Anderson has many options at quarterback. He helped bolster the competition by going out and getting Junior College quarterback Tanner McEvoy. And two redshirt freshmen will be available for action, although I don’t think they’ll find themselves in the hunt for the starting job.
Gary Anderson has already been quoted of saying he wants to establish a “run-first” offense. And who wouldn’t when a guy like James White is your running back? But this means he’s not necessarily looking for a big threat at quarterback, just someone who can manage the game. That’s why I think we’ll see Tanner McEvoy starting to open up the season.
McEvoy is a big kid, 6’6”, 215 pounds, and a very efficient passer. During his one year (eight games) at Arizona Western College, he threw for 1,813 yards and completed 68.1 percent of his throws. That big frame can also move outside the pocket, but that won’t be a big part of Anderson’s offense.
Tanner McEvoy is a very poised, collected quarterback. He’s not going to try to give you more than he’s capable of; He isn’t prone to turnovers. His presence is a demanding one. The more I watch and hear about McEvoy, the more I love him as a quarterback. He almost reminds me of Chad Henne, who played quarterback for Michigan a while back. Henne was someone everyone wanted on their team but never wanted to play because he managed the game so well. That’s what I think McEvoy will develop into.
1. Tanner McEvoy (sophomore)
2. Joel Stave (RS sophomore)
3. Curt Phillips (RS senior)
4. Bart Houston (RS freshman)
5. Chase Knox (RS freshman)
Don’t be surprised to see Joel Stave get a couple starts, especially if McEvoy isn’t producing. But I wouldn’t put my money on Curt Phillips getting a start, although Anderson could get creative and use him in the wildcat or line him up as a slot receiver or running back to get him the ball in the backfield.
We also have to keep in mind that Wisconsin has some pretty big threats out wide with guys like Jared Abbrederis and Jordan Fredrick. They need to be utilized in this offense, and I think McEvoy is the most capable and consistent passer of the bunch.
As I mentioned in the beginning, Wisconsin is a stable quarterback away from being a pretty good football team, one that could even compete with Ohio State in the Leaders Division. And Tanner McEvoy is the guy who will get them there.