It's another off-season, so that means its time for another spring quarterback race for the Wisconsin Badgers. Seemingly becoming an annual event, head coach Gary Anderson and his offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig spoke to reporters earlier this month, raising speculation that they were open to contenders for what was Joel Stave's starting position in 2013. Ludwig told a press conference on March fourth that he was looking forward to a competitive upcoming camp in terms of the quarterback position. He maintained that, as of now, Stave remains the returning starter, though he admitted the junior's season-ending broken collarbone in 2012 and two injuries this year were a concern.
Ludwig's talk of starting quarterback alternatives came as a surprise to many Wisconsin fans and analysts, who generally assumed that Stave would have all-but clinched the position with his dominating advantage of experience. A fourth-year junior, the Greenfield native holds a 13-6 record as the Badgers starter, the position he maintained all of last season and six games in 2012. His numbers as a full-time starter in 2013 were notable, including 22 touchdowns on a 62 percent completion rate. 13 interceptions were a black mark on his stat-sheet, though his performance was enough to garner a berth into the 2014 Capital One Bowl.
In his second year at the helm of the program, Anderson would probably like a starter with at least 500 pass attempts as a Badger. Unfortunately, the former Utah State head coach inherited a team that has seen instability at the position for the better half of a decade. Between his two seasons, Stave leads the four-some competing in this year's race by an impressive 454 throws. Sophomore Bart Houston claims the only other in-game experience on the Wisconsin roster, playing in two games last season with one pass attempted.
Stave and Houston are joined by converted junior safety Tanner McEvoy and incoming freshman D.J. Gillins in the corps’s spring camp this year. McEvoy also competed for the starting quarterback position in 2013's camp, and impressed with his ability to run and throw, but ultimately was moved back to safety after falling behind. At six-and-a-half feet and 223-pounds, McEvoy told reporters that he felt much more confident going into this year's competition with more muscle and a solid year in the program. Ludwig and Anderson reflected that confidence, both acknowledging that they are excited about the prospects advances over a year ago.
Ludwig's thoughts on the young Gillins were a bit more blunt. The Jacksonville native was an early enrollee at Wisconsin just a month ago when he signed with the team on national signing day. Though one of the most touted prospects in the country, Ludwig told reports that Gillins should not worry about becoming the starter his freshman season.