Notes: QB system tough on defenses
MADISON, Wis. - With the No. 22 Wisconsin Badgers set to host No. 11 Nebraska this weekend in their biggest home game under Gary Andersen so far, here are a few notes to chew on with less than four days until game day.
QB rotation hard on defenses
The Badgers have used a two-quarterback system in each of their last four games, but they mixed things up last weekend against Purdue. Instead of just handing Joel Stave or Tanner McEvoy the offensive keys for a whole drive, offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig rotated both quarterbacks in and out on a per-play basis.
Stave started the game and still took the majority of the reps, but McEvoy's influence was easy to spot: he sparked a touchdown drive in the second half after Wisconsin's offense stalled on four straight drives. Stave had a good day overall too: he completed 19 of 29 passes for 219 yards and two touchdowns, easily his best game of the season so far.
The Badgers were able to catch the Boilermakers off guard with their new wrinkle, but they won't have the same luxury this week against Nebraska. The Cornhuskers will surely study last week's game tape to see when the Badgers chose to go with Stave or McEvoy and what they did in each situation, and will work that information in to their game plan.
But Stave said that while rotating under center is designed to put the offense in the best situation possible on every play, forcing the Cornhuskers to prepare for multiple versions of the same offense is just as useful.
"They understand when I'm in or when [Tanner] is in what [we might do]," Stave said Tuesday after practice. "But, that being said, throughout this whole week they have to make sure they're preparing for some spread runs and some spread offense and some power run game, play action passing, and then all of our spread third down passing concepts.
"With this system that we have it really forces a defense to prepare for a lot."
Watt working his way back to full health
Fullback Derek Watt revealed after practice that he was battling a calf strain for most of last week, and that he didn't play against Purdue because he couldn't warm up well enough before the game.
"I did everything I could to try and warm up and play and it just wasn't feeling right," Watt said Tuesday. "I just decided I wouldn't try to push it and do anything worse."
And while Watt said that he feels better now than he did last week, it sounds like his status for this week's game is still up in the air.
John Veldhuis covers Wisconsin football, basketball and recruiting for BadgerBlitz.com on the Rivals.com network. Follow him on Twitter at @JohnVeldhuis.