Taken from our move from MadTown Badgers:
Recruiting is the lifeblood of any college football program, and few understand the importance of player fit to program than the Wisconsin Badgers. How else do you explain Wisconsin ranking so low on the recruiting services year-in and year-out and continuously being a conference title contender?
So, over the next few weeks we’re going to look back over the last decade some of the biggest hits on the recruiting trail for the Badgers.
Why not start it out with the position everyone looks at first on the recruiting trail — quarterback. At UW that hasn’t always meant landing the big, flashy names, but in some cases it has meant grabbing some of the best potential-laden prospects in the country and letting them shine with some quality coaching.
Having a decade of quarterbacks to look through, who stood out of the crowd on the recruiting trail and in their careers?
*all recruiting stats from 247Sports composite rankings
5. Curt Phillips (2008)
Recruiting Info: 3-star, No. 367 nationally, No. 14 Pro-Style QB, No. 6 in Tennessee
Career QB Stats: 60-107 (56.1%), 642 yards, 5 touchdowns 5 interceptions
Just how bad has Wisconsin’s recruiting been at the quarterback position in the past decade? Bad enough that a part-time starter with not much to show for time at UW lands on this list. Phillips came in to the program as the second-highest rated member of the 2008 class, but never really took control of the starting quarterback position.
Some of that was due to guys like Scott Tolzien being ahead of him for the majority of his career. However, Phillips had a golden opportunity to be the man in both 2012 and 2013 with wide open quarterback battles taking place both years.
Instead, he was a stop-gap measure thanks to Joel Stave getting injured in 2012 and played in just 15 games throughout his career. In his most extensive action in 2012, Phillips completed just 46 of 81 passes in seven games (averaging a whopping 11.6 pass attempts per game) and was more a figure head handing the ball off than anything else.
Having a career completion rate of just 56.1 percent and throwing for five touchdowns to five interceptions sums up the sorry state of quarterback recruits signed to national letters of intent this past decade.
4. Bart Houston (2012)
Recruiting Info: 4-star, No. 211 Nationally; No. 6 Pro-style QB; No. 25 Overall in CA
Career QB Stats: 125-192 (65.1%), 1,540 yards, 9 touchdowns, 5 interceptions
Few quarterbacks have come in to the University of Wisconsin with as much anticipation as Bart Houston did. He was an Elite 11 finals competitor, which means a lot in quarterback recruiting circles, and played at California powerhouse De La Salle high school.
Unfortunately, that potential didn’t lead to a whole lot of production in his days in Madison. He constantly was passed up for the starting job, with the likes of Joel Stave and Tanner McEvoy edging him out over and over again in open competition.
Houston did finally earn the starting gig this past season, however part-way through the third game of the season he gave way to redshirt freshman Alex Hornibrook. The two eventually would split time and Houston would start the final few games after Hornibrook suffered a concussion against Minnesota.
This past season was by far the most productive of Houston’s career, completing 68.1 percent of his passes for 1,245 yards and five touchdowns to three interceptions. The best thing Houston was able to do was make sure to take care of the ball more often than not. He wasn’t going to make the incredible throw, opting to take whatever the defense gave him.
Moves like that certainly helped that completion rate look real good. However, he would finish with a 8.0 yards per attempt average on his career. Not exactly eye-popping numbers for one of the supposed best quarterbacks in the country coming out of high school.
3. Tanner McEvoy (2013)
Recruiting Info: 3-star, No. 41 nationally, No. 1 Dual-Threat QB, No. 3 in Arizona (all JUCO rankings)
Career QB Stats: 65-112 (58%), 709 yards, 5 touchdowns, 6 interceptions
What the heck is this guy doing on the list? Well, let’s remember that McEvoy came in to help transition Wisconsin’s offense under then head coach Gary Andersen. McEvoy wasn’t much of a quarterback, but he did manage to become a dangerous part of Wisconsin’s secondary and is now plying his trade in the NFL as a wide receiver for the Seattle Seahawks.
In terms of athletic ability, no quarterback coming in to Wisconsin had it better than McEvoy. That helped him become a weapon on both sides of the ball, just not at quarterback.
He was sort of forced down the throat of a team not ready for the full transition to the spread-option look. That’s not totally his fault. But, he didn’t help himself as a pure quarterback with accuracy issues and an inability to avoid turnovers.
Eventually, Andersen was forced to admit the Badgers weren’t ready for the full switch in 2014 and in came Joel Stave.
Still, his senior season wasn’t a waste in 2015 as new head coach Paul Chryst and Co. made him in to a dangerous free safety. He put up 74 career tackles to go along with seven interceptions and 10 passes defended. Offensively, he was a rushing and receiving weapon that had 82 carries for 706 yards and eight touchdowns rushing. McEvoy also put up eight receptions for 10 yards in this three years at UW.
While he may not have panned out at quarterback, he was far from a bust for the Badgers as a pure football player.
2. Joel Stave (2011)
Recruiting Info: Walk-On
Career QB Stats: 613-1,031 (59.5%), 7,635 yards, 48 touchdowns, 37 interceptions
Few players in Wisconsin history have the crazy story that Joel Stave had for his career. After all, he went from walk-on forgotten early-enrollee in the spring of 2011 to a potential-laden “star” of the spring game to a player that started parts or all of his next four years in a Bader uniform.
Stave was beaten out in 2012 originally by Maryland transfer Danny O’Brien, but that lasted all of two-and-a-half games. With the Badgers trailing against Utah State (which would only become more ironic after the season), Stave entered and engineered a comeback victory over the Aggies at Camp Randall Stadium.
He would then enter the 2013 season as part of a completely open competition thanks to Bret Bielema taking off for Arkansas and Utah State’s Gary Andersen coming on board. Stave won competition No. 2 for his job and finished that season completing 61.9 percent of his passes for 2,494 yards and 22 touchdowns to 13 interceptions. It was an up and down season to say the least, and with Andersen not wanting a pure drop-back passer at QB, it set up the perfect opportunity to open a third competition at the QB spot.
Stave would initially drop his second of three open competition to Tanner McEvoy to start the 2014 season. However, Stave would be called upon again as McEvoy struggled in the passing game and UW needed a spark. Stave nearly completed a crazy comeback win over the Wildcats in Evanston, but the hole was just a bit too deep. He would stay as the starter for the rest of the season and guid UW to an appearance in the Outback Bowl against Auburn.
After three years of open competitions, another head coaching change (the third since Stave arrived on campus in 2011) saw the end of that cycle. He would be named the starter from the moment Paul Chyrst arrived on campus and never looked back.
In the end, Stave had one of the strangest but also longest careers in Wisconsin history. He ended his career in the Cardinal and White second in passing yards, attempts, completions and touchdowns. While he may never have set the world on fire nationally, he goes down as one of the best quarterbacks in UW history according to the record books.
Longevity as a starter certainly helped, but Stave also had himself moments of pure brilliance. He is now in the NFL as a backup quarterback with the Minnesota Vikings.
1. Russell Wilson (2011)
Recruiting Info: Graduate Transfer
Stats at Wisconsin: 206-234 (72%), 2,879 yards, 31 touchdowns, 3 interceptions; 73 carries, 320 yards, 5 touchdowns rushing
This may be a little bit of a cheat, but the reality is that graduate transfers are every bit as much a recruit as a junior in high school is. Schools all over the country were looking at the talent that Wilson had and after visiting late in the spring, Wilson chose the Badgers over all other suitors.
As the saying goes, the rest, my friends, is history.
Wilson went on to make what was a mess of a quarterback situation (it was so bad that a little-known walk-on named Joel Stave was the best of the bunch during the annual spring game) in to one of the most magical seasons in Badger history at the position.
He took what Scott Tolzien had just done and went to another level, leading UW back to the Rose Bowl after winning the first-ever Big Ten championship game over Michigan State. Although the Badgers lost that game, Wilson balled out like usual and propelled him to a third-round draft pick of the Seattle Seahawks because of it.
Without Wilson coming to Wisconsin in 2011 who knows where his professional career would’ve taken him or where the Badgers football program would be right now. Simply put, Wilson was a one-of-a-kind talent in a one-of-a-kind season.
Just watch and enjoy:
What the Badgers need to work on in the bye week
Two games, two victories, two shutouts and two record-setting performance. It would be easy to think the 2-0 Wisconsin Badgers football team is riding high in to its early bye week.
But, with the challenge of the Michigan Wolverines just around the corner things are not exactly going to go as planned.
So, with a week off to prepare what are some of the areas of concentration and concern heading in to the matchup with the Wolverines?
I feel like this is a mantra of any team on a bye week, but after only two games it shouldn’t be that bad. But, guess what, Wisconsin is two games in to the season and the injury gods have not been kind to this team.
On Sunday, we learned that starting safety Scott Nelson will miss the rest of the season with a leg injury.
Late last week we knew that five other players were going to miss the Central Michigan game, with two of those being starters on defense in Bryson Williams and Izayah Green-May.
Now luckily, the depth of this team showed up as true freshman Keeanu Benton (1 TFL) played well in place of Williams and Noah Burks (2 tackles, 1 TFL and 1 pass break up) made it seem like there was nothing missing at outside linebacker.
But, there’s no question that playing with a full group of players against Michigan will be advantageous. Let’s see if the Badgers can get Williams and Green-May healthy and my guess is that they will be able to do just that with nearly three weeks of treatment and testing.
One of the things that has been clear so far about this team is that they have been playing with a lot of emotion and edge to them. It’s almost as if they spent an entire offseason stewing over a less-than-stellar performance in 2018 and are bound and determined to not let that happen again.
Whatever was bottled up in the offseason was certainly unleashed in the first two weeks of the season. Can UW find a way to continue to play with that edge and fire now that they have no game this week?
Sometimes the bye week can mess with a team, especially one that is rolling like the Badgers are. But, I have a distinct feeling that motivation and focus are not going to waver at all with this coaching staff in place.
Wisconsin also has the advantage of being the underdog in the matchup with Michigan (at least on paper it will) and has a ton of hungry young players looking to make a name for themselves.
What better way to do that than against Michigan with the whole college football world watching you?
This idea of staying hungry doesn’t worry me in the least, but it would be something to watch coming out of the gate against Michigan. If the Badgers look flat or out of sorts, I’d be worried. If not, then look for Michigan to be in some serious trouble on Sept. 21.
Early on this season, we’ve already seen a lot of Jonathan Taylor the running back, but we’ve also seen a lot of JT23 the receiving back and it has produced glorious results.
Even better is the fact that the Badgers coaching staff hasn’t had to get exotic with the play calling early on this season either. There’s been few sightings of Aron Cruickshank end arounds or double running back sets or anything crazy.
Wisconsin has lined up, punched the opposing defense in the mouth up front and done the basics needed to put points on the board.
It will be interesting to see what wrinkles will be added with the extra time and the opponent at hand. Will the Badgers break out a few things that Michigan won’t be ready for or will they stick to the tried and true and just see what happens?
If there’s one thing we know about Michigan’s defense is that it is nearly the Badgers equal in aggressiveness. Through two games the Badgers have allowed four sacks on the quarterback.
It may not seem alarming, but last season, UW allowed a total of 24 through 13 games for an average of 1.85 per game and that was a bit of a problem in bigger games. Furthermore, 12 of the 24 sacks came in Wisconsin’s five losses last year.
The good news seems to be that UW is going to get some help for the quarterback spot in avoiding some of those sacks this year. Jack Coan may not be a world-record sprinter, but he has shown to be more comfortable stepping up in the pocket and taking off if needed.
But, the Badgers were not really tested so far in terms of overall talent and did give up three sacks against USF in the opener. On the flip side, the offensive line looked much better against CMU and only one sack happened on the day.
Does that indicate improvement or just how bad the Chippewas were? With an extra week to work on things, lets see how the Badgers offensive line works through any potential issues and any adjustments that may be needed.
Sunday Morning Hangover: What to make of Coan’s confident start
By now, Jack Coan isn’t a total newcomer to the starting quarterback role for the Wisconsin Badgers. But, on Saturday he was making his first career start inside Camp Randall Stadium.
All five of his previous starts would come on the road or in a bowl game.
So, how did Coan handle the home crowd and it being a season opener at Camp Randall nonetheless? Judging by his record-setting numbers it was safe to say it was home, sweet home for the junior quarterback.
After passing for over 200 yards for the first time in his career last week against USF, Coan set personal records for passing attempts, completions, yards and touchdown passes in a single game.
It’s hard to get much better than that.
On the day, Coan would go 26 of 33 for 363 yards and 3 touchdowns. Those numbers were the catalyst to the Badgers 61-0 blanking of the visiting Central Michigan Chippewas.
His 363 yards were the fifth best in a single game by any Badgers quarterback. Coan also became just the 11th Badgers QB to throw for 300 or more yards in a game.
Additionally, his 276 yards in the first half were the most ever by any Badgers quarterback in a single half.
That’s some historic territory for anyone to reach.
However, after sleeping on it, I am still left wondering if this is a sign of things to come or a blip on the radar and we’ll never see this again.
Maybe it’s because I can still remember being there in person to witness Coan fumble and bumble his way to a loss at Northwestern last year.
Maybe that’s the Hornibrook affect in me too? After all, we got totally burned by thinking Hornibrook had turned a corner with his great performance in the bowl win over Miami two years ago.
Instead, Hornibrook reverted right back to the inconsistent and at times terrible version that his more extensive body of work told us was likely who he was.
But, here’s why I think we aren’t seeing a blip on the radar with Coan. It’s his confidence and the fact that we’ve seen him go out and do better each and every week he’s been a starter.
We are seeing progress, which we never really did with Hornibrook under center. If you can’t see that Coan is improving, then you aren’t paying attention.
Last week, despite the first ever 200-yard day for Coan, a lot of attention was paid to the missed wide open receivers on vertical routes. What did Coan do about it? He went out this week and showed he could confidently and accurately hit those deep balls.
“I think it’s important, and certainly we’ve got to be able to — we thought coming into the year we’ve got to do a better job of attacking the whole field, and so when you can do that, it’s good, but I think guys have had confidence in it,” said head coach Paul Chryst after the CMU win.
“I know last week we were 0-2 for those “chunk” plays, but he wouldn’t have cut ’em loose today if he didn’t have confidence in it. So I don’t know that doing it in a game makes you more confident, but it was good to see. It’s nice to be able to hit a couple of those, obviously.”
Additionally, Coan’s relationship early on this season with Quintez Cephus has been something special to watch. With virtually no playing time and no extensive practice time together, the duo has seemed totally in sync to start the season.
Cephus has nine receptions for 169 yards and two touchdowns through two games. He also is averaging 84.5 yards per game, good for fifth in the Big Ten in this early season.
Just to put the difference between Coan and Honribrook in to some perspective for you. Through two games last year, the Badgers had just 26 receptions as a team. This year, UW already has 50.
Wisconsin also has a total of 16 passes for 15 or more yards on the season. That is a quarter of what the Badgers had (64) all of last year and we’re only two games in to the season.
A.J. Taylor (8), Danny Davis (6), Kendric Pryor (6) and Jake Ferguson (6) have all had major impacts in the pass game too.
It means a diverse and talented group is producing quickly this season.
Of course, the challenge of Michigan’s defense awaits the Badgers offense and it certainly will be a step up in competition from the likes of USF and Central Michigan.
However, the Wolverines also won’t be seeing the same old Wisconsin offense they did for the past few years either.
What Coan has brought to the table through two weeks of play should make Michigan think twice about stacking the box against the run all game long.
Wisconsin finally has an outwardly confident quarterback and it feels so very good.
WATCH: Recap of Badgers 61-0 victory over Central Michigan
If you were to draw up a perfect game, well, it would be hard to top what the Wisconsin Badgers put on film on Saturday against the Central Michigan Chippewas.
UW ran, passed and dominated on defense en route to a 61-0 win. What should we take away from this game? What were the highlight moments?
Well of course, Jonathan Taylor scoring four touchdowns in back-to-back games was impressive. But, let our Publisher, Andrew Coppens, get in to the detail in this week’s talkinBadgers recap.
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Wisconsin Badgers vs. Central Michigan Chippewas: Preview, Predictions and Prognostications
We’re back with more in our video work for the Badgers 2019 season. As per usual, our Publisher, Andrew Coppens, is here to give you the lowdown on the matchup between the Wisconsin Badgers and Central Michigan Chippewas.
That means, key players to watch, key stats to keep an eye on and the weekly prediction.
He is 1-0 after nearly nailing the full score last week, so what does this matchup look like?
Let’s get in to the video.
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