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Will it be Joel Stave or Tanner McEvoy who leads the offense out on the field against LSU?
This is the biggest storyline headed into the season. With the calendar flipping to August, the game against LSU is really right around the corner with no additional clarity at arguably the most important position: the quarterback.
Can Joel Stave become Brooks Bollinger or Scott Tolzien? Maybe, but that's a big jump from where he was last season to where he would need to go. Stave gets a worse rap than his numbers suggest (almost 2,500 yards to go along with 22 touchdowns), but Stave far from excels in other areas.
To compare Stave to Tolzien, let's compare each player's first full season as a starter, which was Stave's sophomore season and Tolzien's junior year.
|Scott Tolzien ('09)
|Joel Stave ('13)
As you can see, their numbers are actually fairly similar, with Stave throwing for more touchdowns but Tolzien holding the edge in every other statistical category. In terms of supporting casts, both had an excellent line in front of them, a great rushing attack and a clear No. 1 wide receiver, making the comparison even clearer.
Now, let's take a look at Tolzien's numbers the following season:
|Scott Tolzien ('10)
While one could argue that the Badgers featured the best rushing attack they've seen in 2010, with the terrific trio of John Clay, James White and Montee Ball, all of whom rushed for at least 996 yards and 14 touchdowns. Beyond that, the Badgers also had a strong cast of wide receivers and tight ends. Stave can certainly aim for the consistency when it comes to completing passes and cutting his turnovers down significantly.
But Stave may never get the chance to show that he is the next Tolzien because Tanner McEvoy is gunning for that starting quarterback spot as well.
McEvoy, originally a South Carolina recruit turned star junior college quarterback out of New Jersey, brings things to the table that Stave just can't. While he has a very unconventional delivery and statistics against Mesa Community College (a team his Arizona Western team dispatched 78-20) don't really serve as a good comparison, McEvoy very well could be a big upgrade over the mistake-prone Stave.
In eight games, McEvoy threw for 24 touchdowns against just five interceptions and compiled a completion percentage of 68.1 while also running for 252 yards on 49 carries (5.1 yards per attempt), according to the NJCAA.
If McEvoy can keep teams honest with his legs while completing 65 or so percent of his passes, he should be the preferred option to be running the Badgers offense.
One clue as to who will be chosen is Gary Andersen's preference for mobile quarterbacks, as seen in who he has recruited in his time with the Badgers. Coming in this season is D.J. Gillins, a dual-threat quarterback, and coming in next year is Austin Kafentzis, another dual-threat quarterback.
Between who he has recruited and his history of utilizing a quarterback's legs as well as their arm, I'd say McEvoy has more than a fair shot at taking the starting job from the incumbent Stave.