Badgers' Joel Stave back in QB mix

MADISON, Wis. -- Joel Stave is back in the mix at quarterback for No. 17 Wisconsin after struggling mentally with throwing issues.

Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen said Thursday that Stave will serve as backup to starter Tanner McEvoy when the Badgers (3-1) open Big Ten play at Northwestern (2-2, 1-0) on Saturday.

"If there's an opportunity to get Joel in the game in the right setting, it will be a possibility," Andersen said. "I think he's continued to progress, handled some more team activities in a solid way this week.

"He's been throwing the ball like the old Joel out there. I think it's important to remember he's working; he's doing a great job. He's a great quarterback and we're excited to have him back. To have him be part of the program on game day is good for us."

Stave, a 19-game starter for the Badgers, lost the starting job in training camp to McEvoy, a redshirt junior transfer who played 10 games at safety last season.

Stave's performance declined in mid-August after Wisconsin's second scrimmage, when McEvoy received the starting nod, largely based on his mobility. At that time, Stave said nothing was physically wrong, he just wasn't happy with the way he was throwing the ball.

Stave, a redshirt junior who spoke to reporters earlier this week about gaining back his confidence, threw 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in leading Wisconsin to a 9-4 record in 2013. He set a program record with 336 pass attempts and threw for 2,494 yards. Stave injured his shoulder in the Capital One Bowl in January and missed time in spring practice, but his throwing problems were not related to that injury.

Redshirt freshman Bart Houston has been the No. 2 quarterback on the depth chart for four games. Freshman D.J. Gillins is working with the scout team.