It appears it’s a good thing that erstwhile Wisconsin quarterback Tanner McEvoy is giving the defensive backfield another look this spring.
Last week, Austin Hudson (pictured, No. 27) confirmed that he will be transferring out of the UW football program. The safety had nothing negative to say about the team, and that the new coaching staff under first-year Badgers head coach Paul Chryst wasn’t an issue either, stating instead that a desire to play closer to his home in Tampa, Fla., was the impetus for the decision.
He did, though, say “a culture thing” in Madison played a role.
“I have nothing negative to say,” Hudson told Scout.com. “It was a journey I needed to make to understand where I belong and Wisconsin just wasn’t the right fit. Football-wise it may have been but in terms of what I idealize, the school itself wasn’t the right fit.
“The new staff was great. It had no effect on me leaving… It was more of a family thing why I wanted to leave and just a culture thing. I just never fit at Wisconsin.”
The defensive back did say that he knows to where he will be transferring, although he won’t acknowledge his new school until it’s announced.
Hudson was a two-star member of the Badgers’ 2014 recruiting class. He held offers from Georgia and Missouri prior to signing with UW.
As a true freshman last season, Hudson played in all 14 games. He’ll be forced to sit out the 2015 season if he lands at another FBS program.
In 2014, Tanner McEvoy started the first five games at quarterback for Wisconsin. Six months later, it appears he’s on the move position-wise yet again.
As the Badgers opened their first spring practice under first-year head coach Paul Chryst, McEvoy was back working with the defensive backs as a safety. In 2013, McEvoy was moved to safety, a position he played all season last year for the Badgers. After Joel Stave regained the starting job last October, which followed some murky uncertainty as to his status moving forward, McElvoy stayed at quarterback before practicing to go both ways in the run-up to the Badgers’ bowl game.
The secondary might not be McEvoy’s ultimate spot on the depth chart, though, as the Wisconsin State Journal writes that “Chryst said he plans to evaluate McEvoy at wide receiver during the next 14 practice sessions.”
At least for now, one place McEvoy won’t get any looks is at quarterback. Stave, who went 8-1 as a starter last season, remains UW’s starter, with juniors Bart Houston and Thad Armstrong, redshirt freshman D.J. Gillens and true freshmen Alex Hornibrook and Austin Kafentzis divvying up the remainder of the practice snaps.
While McEvoy’s position is still to be determined, there’s little doubt where Stave stands among that group of very inexperienced signal-callers.
“Joel will take the ones,” said Chryst in regards to first-team reps. “Bart and D.J. will get the twos and we’ll get the young guys some work.”
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Prior to transferring to Wisconsin from South Carolina via the JUCO ranks, Tanner McEvoy was a quarterback. In 2013, McEvoy was moved to safety, a position he played all season last year for the Badgers. In 2014, he moved back to quarterback and started five games under center to start the year and played in the last eight at that position to end the year.
With the postseason on the horizon, and the Badgers still licking their wounds from the defensive beatdown they received in the Big Ten championship game, McEvoy is headed back to the defensive side of the ball. As well as remaining on the offensive side.
“I’ll be going both ways,” McEvoy said. “I just love playing. Wherever I can get on the field, that’s what I’m here to do and help this team win. So I’m excited to be able to get more reps out there and just help these guys get a bowl victory and send the seniors off the right way.
“As long as I get on the field and help the team win, that’s my goal.”
McEvoy began practicing again with the defense Tuesday. Thursday, he worked with the first-team defense at both safety and linebacker.
Despite the defensive work, there wil still be opportunities for McEvoy offensively. Even after Joel Stave reclaimed the starting job, McEvoy saw extensive action as the running threat at the quarterback position, finishing the 2014 regular season with 574 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns. His 8.8 yards per carry was tops on the team.
UW will face Auburn in the Jan. 1 Outback Bowl.
Wisconsin (6-2, 3-1 Big Ten) shut down Rutgers () 5-4, 1-4 Big Ten) every way possible in New Jersey this afternoon. With a dominating 37-0 victory, Wisconsin stays in a good spot in the Big Ten’s West Division with the season starting to wind down.
Melvin Gordon was a force for the Badgers with 132 yards and two touchdowns, perhaps something to give some Heisman voters something to think about. It might also give Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah something to shoot for, as the two seem to keep raising the bar during the season for each other. Wisconsin’s running game had another dominant player out of the backfield too, with Corey Clement adding 131 yards and two touchdowns. For Wisconsin, running the football is the best way to cure any issues in the passing game, which struggled to get much going in rainy New Jersey, no matter of Joel Stave or Tanner McEvoy was under center. The two Wisconsin quarterbacks combined to complete just eight of 20 pass attempts for 87 yards in the game. McEvoy was also intercepted once.
Wisconsin’s defense also got the job done against Rutgers. The Badgers held the Scarlet Knights to just 139 yards of total offense, which surely must be frustrating to offensive coordinator Ralph Friedgen. Gary Nova started at quarterback but struggled leading the offense. Rutgers was held to just eight first downs and Nova was picked off once.
With the win, Wisconsin remains in first place in the Big Ten West Division, although it is crowed at the top with Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota all still in the running in the division.
Wisconsin will be back on the road next week at Purdue. The schedule ends with three games against Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota. All three of those games look to be critical in the division.
Rutgers still needs one more win to become bowl eligible. Rutgers will host Indiana after a week off, but ends the road at Michigan State and Maryland.
Rutgers has tended to play tough at home early n their new Big Ten era, but so far in the Garden State the Scarlet Knights have failed to make a dent on the scoreboard. Wisconsin is pitching a shutout so far in New Jersey with a 20-0 lead at halftime.
Wisconsin’s passing game has been a work in progress this season, and that is again the case today. Joel Stave has completed just three of nine attempts for 33 yards. Tanner McEvoy has attempted just three passes and completed one as well. The running game has carried things early on with Melvin Gordon rushing for 56 yards and a touchdown to help the Badgers build its lead. Corey Clement has had his say as well, with a 43-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
Gary Nova got the start at quarterback for Rutgers this afternoon, but he has been unable to solve the Wisconsin defense. He has completed just four of 13 attempts for 33 yards. Rutgers has just 52 yards of total offense.