MADISON, Wis. - Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen confirmed that starting quarterback Joel Stave will be limited during the first two weeks of spring practice. Stave will be limited to position drills and other short throwing programs while he rehabs a shoulder injury, and Andersen said he hopes to have his starting quarterback back after spring break.
"We'll see if we can get him full speed [after that]," Andersen said Wednesday after practice. "It's a precautionary deal."
Stave's absence opens the door for Bart Houston, Tanner McEvoy and younger quarterbacks like D.J. Gillins to get extra reps over the next two weeks. Houston and McEvoy split the first team reps for the most part on Wednesday, and Andersen said that rotation would stay the same for their next few practices.
A limited number of offensive linemen has forced the Badgers to alter their normal practice schedule, though: they ran through skeleton passing drills for about 45 minutes on Wednesday, in part to keep the linemen they do have on the field.
Time will tell if those extra reps give any of the other quarterbacks a chance to really compete with Stave for the starting job, after the 6-foot-5 redshirt junior started all 13 of Wisconsin's games last year.
News and notes:
-- Andersen said he liked how A.J. Jordan played at safety on Wednesday. Jordan switched from wide receiver to defensive back just before the 2014 Capital One Bowl, but originally started his career on defense as a cornerback. It was a natural move for the Badgers to make considering the amount of playing time they have up for grabs at both safety spots, and Andersen said he thinks Jordan can compete for a starting job right away.
"That's his mindset, to come in and start," Andersen said. "He looks comfortable. He's worked very hard to get the techniques down."
-- Robert Wheelwright and Leon Jacobs both flashed at times for the Badgers on Wednesday. They looked more comfortable working with the first and second teams than they did during the fall last year, which Andersen attributed to letting them see the field as true freshmen instead of forcing them to redshirt.
"That's why you don't redshirt them," Andersen said. "That's why you let them run down on kickoffs and kickoff return and [let them] travel, and all the stuff that comes with it so they will come back and get comfortable and truly compete for a spot."
-- True freshman offensive lineman Jaden Gault will miss all of spring camp after he had surgery on one of his knees during the offseason. Andersen said the injury is not serious and he expects Gault to be 100 percent when fall camp rolls around.
-- Andersen went into a little more detail about why he and the offensive coached decided to give Derek Watt extra looks as a tight end in the future. Andersen said there wasn't much point in over-working Watt as a blocker during the spring when he could take the time to become a more versatile offensive player instead.
"Derek does not need to block power O 40 times in the spring- Austin Ramesh does," Andersen said. "Derek needs reps at being an H-tight end and as a mover. We're going to ask him to do that next year because he is a good receiver. He's more than just a fullback."
-- Sam Arneson and Austin Traylor both flashed at times during Wisconsin's first practice of the spring, but Andersen thought redshirt freshman Troy Fumagalli made several nice plays as well.
"He was kind of a kid on a mission," Andersen said of Fumagalli. "That's what you need at this level to play as a redshirt freshman."
John Veldhuis covers Wisconsin football, basketball and recruiting for BadgerBlitz.com on the Rivals.com network. Follow him on Twitter at @JohnVeldhuis.