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September 2, 2014

Stave not hurt, but not ready to play

MADISON, Wis. - It turns out that Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave's throwing shoulder isn't hurt, less than a few hours after head coach Gary Andersen released a statement saying that Stave needed to "shut it down" for an undetermined amount of time.

Andersen held an impromptu group interview after practice on Tuesday, where he said that "shut it down" was a poor choice of words. Stave is still practicing with the team in individual and seven-on-seven drills, but won't participate in team drills until he clears up an issue with his throwing shoulder that neither he nor Andersen seem to understand in its entirety.

"Is [Stave] injured? No. Is he ready to play right now? No," Andersen said Tuesday. "Our mindset is that we want to get him back in a position where he can practice, and at that point we'll be prepared to get ready to go put him in a game."

"I hope that's very soon," Andersen added. "It could be as early as this week if things progress extremely quickly. If not I would surely hope we could get through the bye week for game three or game four."

Andersen deferred questions about Stave's physical condition to the player himself, who met with reporters after the rest of the team finished their normal media availability.

For his part Stave said he doesn't think this situation is related to his previous shoulder injury, which knocked him out of Wisconsin's 34-24 loss to South Carolina in the 2014 Capital One Bowl and forced the Badgers to limit him for the first half of spring camp and eventually shut the junior quarterback down for the last week of camp before the spring game.

"I'm not hurt. Structurally, everything is good with my shoulder," Stave said. "I'm throwing the ball after practice and everything like that just fine."

"Right now my arm is just not working the way I'd like it to. I don't know what it is."

Stave acknowledged that he might be over-thinking his throwing motion, and as a result he's over-correcting when a throw sails to high or skips the ground.

"You never throw a perfect ball every time, but I've noticed in this past week that I haven't really thrown it the way that I'm used to or the way that I like to," Stave said. "That's when you kind of start to think a little bit."

"I'll be throwing it good and then all of a sudden I'll feel like I hang on to it for too long. One will sail, one will slip, and then you start thinking that you need to hang on to it longer and throw it into the ground."

It might not be a clear-cut case of "the yips," but in the absence of any pain it sounds as though Stave is battling through a problem that's as much mental as it is physical.

"I've thrown how many thousands of balls in my life," Stave said. "I know when it hurts and when it doesn't. I don't know what it is. It just isn't right."

A timetable for Stave's return is obviously unclear. In the meantime the Badgers will have to continue starting Tanner McEvoy, who beat out Stave for the starting job in fall camp.

Redshirt sophomore Bart Houston will take over as McEvoy's primary backup until Stave is able to return to practice full time, which could happen anytime between Wisconsin's next practice or a few weeks down the road.

For the time being, it sounds as though your guess is as good as theirs.

John Veldhuis covers Wisconsin football, basketball and recruiting for BadgerBlitz.com on the Rivals.com network. Follow him on Twitter at @JohnVeldhuis.

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