Wisconsin Football: 3 Lessons We Have Learned About Joel Stave
For just about anyone, what occurred to Joel Stave at the end of Wisconsin's game at Arizona State on Sept. 14 would be difficult to overcome.
Stave knows he took a knee and set the ball on the ground, but there had to have been some second guessing on his part in the following minutes, hours and days regarding the final 18 seconds of that game.
Should he have made the kneel more obvious? Should he have tossed the ball to a nearby official instead? Should the Badgers have even run that play with the risk of not having enough time to spike the ball?
It was an upsetting situation, but character can best be judged by how one responds to adversity. Six days later, Stave was back under center, helping lead his team to a 42-10 stomping of Purdue back at the friendly confines of Camp Randall Stadium.
Right now, there isn't a better option on this roster at quarterback than Joel Stave, but the sophomore has been far from perfect through three weeks of play. With a massive test looming at Ohio State, there are three lessons we've learned about Stave in 2013.
He's Still Making Too Many Mistakes
Many could consider what Stave did at the end of the Arizona State game a mistake, but that's not what we're referring to here. Besides, the officials botched the situation, and that same crew was so bad during the Week 4 game between Utah and BYU that they had garbage hurled their way, according to Deadspin.
It just so happens BYU and Wisconsin play each other this season. Let's hope we don't see the same crew at that game.
In every game this season, Wisconsin's rushing attack has been nearly unstoppable, and you would think this greatly aids Stave. Teams are forced to stack the box in an effort to slow down Melvin Gordon, James White and Corey Clement, which conceivably opens up the secondary.
The only issue is that just like every other team, the Badgers find themselves in certain passing situations every now and then. The Badgers are actually fairly effective on third down (52 percent conversion rate), but over the past two weeks—and at times against UMass and Tennessee Tech—Stave has inexplicably missed his mark.
Stave has three interceptions on the young season, and surprisingly, none of them came against the Sun Devils. Not all of them are his fault, either. Even so, Stave tends to stare down his receivers and just hasn't been as accurate as he needs to be through four games.
A 63.2 completion percent to go along with 761 yards and six touchdowns is a respectable line, but based on what's been laid out in front of Stave, those numbers could be and must get better.
Only Jared Abbrederis Can Be Trusted
Despite returning everyone at wide receiver and tight end from a season ago, including a player on the Mackey Award watch list, the beat goes on—it's Jared Abbrederis, and then everyone else in Wisconsin's receiving corps.
It was as evident as ever in the Badgers' B1G opener against Purdue. James White was actually the team's second leading receiver, and Abbrederis had four more receptions and 45 more yards than the senior tailback.
Jacob Pedersen, considered to be one of the nation's top tight ends, was forced to leave Saturday's game with a leg injury. But White has more receiving yards than Pedersen, who has caught just eight passes for 101 yards and a touchdown this season.
Against a team like Purdue, you would have liked to see Stave try to spread it around a little more, but it's also possible other options just aren't there. Entering a game against one of the best teams in the country, however, someone other than Abbrederis will need to step up.
It could be Pedersen, health pending. It could be walk-on sophomore and redshirt freshman Alex Erickson, who might see his role grow in the offense. White is a nice target, but then again, he's a running back and not much of a downfield threat.
Time will tell.
He's Got the "It Factor"
Say what you will about Stave's accuracy, struggles with the deep ball and interceptions—he's the best the Badgers have at the quarterback position, and he knows how to win ballgames.
Stave has proven to be a great leader and have a positive influence on the offense and his teammates. During a break in the action, the video board showed his fellow Badgers answering who was the most likely to become a movie star.
When the Badgers have needed Stave the most, he's come through, and that includes Wisconsin's final drive against the Sun Devils in which Stave led the Badgers 68 yards in just over a minute with the Badgers trailing by two. What happened after that, obviously, was pure madness.
While Stave has had some accuracy issues, his completion percentage has improved from last season. And even though the offensive line is doing a great job of opening holes in the running game, it hasn't been nearly as good at blocking in pass protection, meaning Stave has been under pressure on dropbacks often.
Sure, there's room for improvement, but there's a reason Stave is the No. 1 quarterback right now—hands down, he won the job during the offseason. Stave just has that "it factor," which helps give the offense a second dimension and makes him the right guy to run this Wisconsin offense.