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MADISON - After a bad break ended his run as a starting quarterback last season, sophomore quarterback Joel Stave has won his job back.
Although listed as a co-starter with sixth-year senior Curt Phillips on the team’s official depth chart prior to Saturday’s season opener, BadgerNation has learned that Stave has been named the team’s starting quarterback.
The news was confirmed by sources with knowledge of the meeting between offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig and Phillips informing him of the decision.
Stave started a season-high six games for Wisconsin after being inserted the starter in week three of last year. He recorded a season-high pass efficiency rating of 208.8, going 9-of-11 for 127 yards and one touchdown against Michigan State, before breaking his left collarbone early in the second half. He was 5-1 in the games he started or finished (excluding the Michigan State game).
Stave completed 58.8 percent of his passes last season, throwing for 1,104 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions in eight games.
“He does a nice job in the meeting room and the film room, invested a lot of time over the summer,” Ludwig said of Stave last week. “I think he looks comfortable. He’s got a good football intellect about him. He looks good.”
Ludwig said Wisconsin was looking for a quarterback who consistently moves the football team, who has repetitive accuracy and who can get the team out of tough situations. According to the source, the race between the two was basically a coin flip with Ludwig slightly favoring Phillips and Andersen favoring Stave.
Phillips is back after getting a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA, not quitting after three ACL surgeries on the same knee and finally getting the reins of the starting quarterback job in November. Phillips led UW to a 2-3 record in his first five career starts, throwing for 540 yards, five touchdowns (two of which came in the final minute of regulation to force overtime) and two interceptions.
Phillips appeared to be the more consistent quarterback throughout fall from practice to practice, but Stave was given more reps in both scrimmages arguably performed the best in both opportunities. Another source indicated the Badgers likely won’t split reps during the first two games against Massachusetts and Tennessee Tech, going with Stave throughout most of the game.
During his Monday press conference, Andersen maintained that he won’t make a public announcement about the quarterback, just like he won’t make any big announcement with any other position on his team, but said he was proud of how the quarterback group handled the amount of pressure put on the position during camp.
“It's not easy,” Andersen said. “It's tough. Everybody wants to talk about it. It's right there. Bright lights big city talking about the quarterback spot. But all three kids have been in the middle of it … As we move through it, the kids have all just been good with it. Probably not happy with some of the things but they've accepted it.”