MADISON, Wis. - Tanner McEvoy had a rough outing against LSU in his first start at quarterback for the Wisconsin Badgers, and that might be putting things mildly.
McEvoy completed just 8 of 24 passes in the game and threw two interceptions late in the game, but Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen said at his weekly press conference that McEvoy will still start against Western Illinois this week, even though the Badgers as a whole need to perform better in the passing game.
"We had a couple chances in the throw game. [McEvoy] missed some throws he'd like to have back," Andersen said Monday. "Nobody is going to sit here and debate that that we need better play out of the quarterback. We need better play in the throw game, period."
Andersen said that in the week leading up to the game he thought McEvoy gave them a better chance to beat LSU than Joel Stave did at the time, and that McEvoy will continue to start as long as he continues to do that. And while Stave didn't get on to the field against LSU, Andersen reiterated that Stave is far from locked in to a back up role for the rest of the season.
"I'm not saying it's an open competition, but both quarterbacks are going to have an opportunity," Andersen said.
"I still think there's opportunities for both guys to play. When we went through last week's practice it was obvious that it was a situation that Tanner needed to be involved. Joel is going to be involved [as well]- it's just [about finding] the right time and situation."
"We need two quarterbacks, and sooner or later you're going to have to have them both. Tanner's the starter today, but Joel is going to fight like crazy to get some reps."
Badgers held out Gordon as a precaution
Running back Melvin Gordon was limited to just a few carries in the second half in part because Andersen was told by the training staff that Gordon injured his hip flexor during the game. Both Andersen and Thomas Brown decided to take things easy on Gordon after that, even though the junior running back said after the game that he thought he was fine.
Andersen took a lot of flack for saying after the game that he "didn't know" why Gordon didn't get the ball more often in the second half, but at his press conference Andersen said he didn't want to share injury news about one of his players.
"Melvin is going to say he's absolutely fine," Andersen said. "All I can do is go by what the trainer tells me. He's the professional."
News and notes:
The Badgers got a bit of good news on the injury front: both Konrad Zagzebski and Warren Herring are expected to return to the field this year, despite the neck and knee injuries they sustained against LSU, respectively.
Andersen said that Zagzebski could return this week against Western Illinois, and if not then he should be back for their game against Bowling Green after their first bye week of the season.
Herring's return date is a little more nebulous. Andersen said that his starting nose tackle was day-to-day, so they're not exactly sure when he'll be back. With an FCS game and a bye week coming up next, I would be surprised if Herring comes back before Wisconsin's game against Bowling Green. They need him to take a lot of snaps for them this year, so I think they'll play it safe.
Punter Drew Meyer is also expected to be fine for this week's game. Meyer cramped up a bit during their game against LSU and had to go to the locker room for a bit, but it doesn't sound like anything is seriously wrong with him.
Wide receiver Robert Wheelwright is also expected to return to practice this week after he missed most of fall camp with nagging injuries. The Badgers will take any reinforcements they can get in their wide receiver group, which struggled to get off of press coverage against LSU.
John Veldhuis covers Wisconsin football, basketball and recruiting for BadgerBlitz.com on the Rivals.com network. Follow him on Twitter at @JohnVeldhuis.