MADISON - If Tanner McEvoy was nervous going into his first “start” at quarterback for the University of Wisconsin this Saturday, the junior is showing no lack of confidence three days before the Badgers’ highly anticipated season opener.
"I know what I signed up for, so I just have to go out there and play,” said McEvoy. “IF I get out there, I have to go out there and execute, do what the coaches say. I’ve been playing football all my life, so I don’t think it will be overwhelming or anything. Big crowds, that’s fun. That’s what I signed up for.”
Sources, and a supposed slip of the tongue by tailback Melvin Gordon, have said McEvoy will start on Saturday against No.13 LSU at NRG Stadium in Houston, but most have been mum on the topic. Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen sidestepped the issue in his addresses to the media earlier this week, and McEvoy referred the question to offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig.
“We’re not sure who is playing this weekend,” said McEvoy. “I hope I’m in.”
Although junior quarterback Joel Stave has starting experience (13-6 record as a starter), the Badgers’ coaching staff has said their ideal quarterback is an athlete who hits passes to all three levels of the defense (short, intermediate and long) and is mobile and explosive enough to create big plays with his feet.
And while the 6-6, 222-pound McEvoy has yet to attempt a pass in a FBS game, he passed for 1,943 yards and 25 touchdowns and rushed for 414 yards and six touchdowns in his lone season as the starter at Arizona Western. Before the season at Arizona Western, he redshirted in 2011 at South Carolina.
“Sometimes people throw things at you, you have to change or make an adjustment,” said McEvoy. “That’s what I’ve been doing for that past few years. There’s only so much I can handle. I just have to go out there and do what I can do.”
McEvoy admitted the obvious; that last year was a lot different for him than this fall camp. Last year he came in late, struggled with the offense in camp, injured his wrist and played three different positions before finally latching on as one of UW’s top safeties down the stretch.
He admitted it was a fun year, which included playing his first college team in the Capital One Bowl, but was adamant that he was a quarterback and that’s what he came to Wisconsin to be. Once spring practices began and he started getting the majority of the reps because of Stave’s shoulder injury, things started to click, especially since it was the first time since his freshmen year of high school that he hadn’t been in a new offense.
“I’m getting used to switching offenses but it’s really nice to have a second year in the same offense,” said McEvoy. “I think each year you learn a lot playing this position … With the team we’ve got, we’ve got a lot of great players around me. We’ve got a lot of parts. That’s going to make it easier.”
It’s apparently so easy to the point where McEvoy isn’t worried about playing a SEC power opponent to open Wisconsin’s college football season.
“I think people come to this school to play in big games,” he said. “We’ve got LSU the first game. That’s about as big as it gets, in a big NFL stadium. It’s going to be awesome to get out there. I think we have a great team, so I am excited to see where we go.”