A weird last few days for the Wisconsin football program took a turn toward the downright bizarre Tuesday evening.
In a press release yesterday morning, UW announced that No. 2 quarterback Joel Stave “has been dealing with some issues with his throwing shoulder for the last couple of weeks and we have come to a decision, after talking with Joel, that the best thing for him right now is to shut it down and give him some rest.” The thing is, Stave’s not actually injured… and that’s according to both the head coach and the player.
“Injured is probably a bad word that I decided to use in the press release. He needs to just get himself … is he injured? No. Is he ready to play right now? No,” Gary Andersen said a few hours after the release stating Stave is injured was sent out.
Not only is Stave not injured, he’s not even shut down — at least not completely. Stave is still attending practice and team meetings, but is limited to individual drills as he’s not practicing with the team as far as game prep is concerned.
So, what’s actually wrong with Stave? The player indicated that the issue is above the neck, not slightly below it.
“Structurally everything is good in my shoulder. I’ve just got to…right now my arm is just not working the way I’d like it to, I guess. I don’t know what it is.
“And this game is so incredibly important to me that when I miss a throw I start to think: ‘What can I do to fix it?’
“Sometimes I tend to over-think things. I like to think I’m a fairly intelligent kid who can figure stuff out. And sometimes you tend to over-think things.”
Citing unnamed sources, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel wrote that “Stave has struggled in practice since learning that [Tanner] McEvoy had been named the starter.” Stave, who started every game last season, and McEvoy, who played defensive back for the Badgers last year, had been engaged in a very close quarterback competition throughout spring practice and on into summer camp, with the latter getting the nod shortly before the season opener against LSU.
Regardless of why exactly Stave was shutdown, though, he will remain sidelined indefinitely as he works through the issues. And, for now, Bart Houston will continue to be the backup to McEvoy, who went 8-of-24 passing for 50 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions in the loss to the Tigers.
This Stave situation comes just a couple of days after an imbroglio involving Melvin Gordon. In the first half of the LSU loss, Gordon ran for 76 yards on 12 carries, and followed that up with a 63-yard scamper on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter. After that? The running back carried the ball just three times as the Badgers coughed up a 17-point lead.
“I was good, man,” Gordon said when asked about the lack of second-half touches. “I was all good. …
“They went with Corey [Clement] … but I’m A-OK,” Gordon added, with Clement stating that it was “[j]ust coach’s choice. … Melvin is perfectly fine.”
Andersen, however, said it was a hip flexor issue that prompted he and the coaching staff “to be smart with him as the rest of the game went on.”
Except, according to Gordon, neither Andersen nor first-year running backs coach Thomas Brown outlined that plan to him during the game.
“I didn’t ask questions,” Gordon said Monday. “When my number was called I went out there and did what I had to do.”
For what it’s worth, Gordon has been “cleared” to play in this Saturday’s game against Western Illinois.