While the basketball team was winning the Big Ten title, the Wisconsin Badgers football team got spring practice started over the weekend and, surprisingly, new head coach Paul Chryst has already named the Badgers' starting quarterback.
Stave, a senior, is the most experienced signal-caller on the Badgers' roster, so it's not all that big of a surprise that he would have a leg up early this spring, but what is a surprise is how quickly Chryst has been willing to give him the starting role without working out the younger QBs with the first team. The two QBs behind Stave currently, according to Chryst, are junior-to-be Bart Houston and redshirt freshman D.J. Gillens, neither of which have much of any playing experience -- Houston logged three pass attempts last season.
Last year, Stave was benched behind former safety Tanner McEvoy -- who played about as well as you'd expect a former safety moving to quarterback -- to start the season for having "the yips" according to former head coach Gary Anderson. Stave eventually regained the job out of necessity as McEvoy struggled -- McEvoy is moving back out of the quarterback position this year -- but Stave wasn't good.
In his 10 appearances, Stave completed just 53.4% of his passes while averaging just 6.6 yards per attempt. On the season, he passed for 1,350 yards, nine touchdowns, and 10 interceptions, and against top competition -- the Big Ten title game against Ohio State and the bowl game against Auburn -- Stave completed 31 of 70 passes for 309 yards, one touchdown and six interceptions.
Wisconsin has a good deal of turnover on the offense from last season with Melvin Gordon gone and three starters from the offensive line graduating, but in the weak Big Ten West they still were expected to contend for the division title. However, with Stave still under center, it seems as though the Badgers' offense will once again have to rely almost wholly on the running game for consistent production to get them there.
(h/t Wisconsin State Journal)