With their season-opener four months away, the Wisconsin Badgers took the field for their annual Cardinal vs. White spring game at Camp Randall Stadium.
The game was somewhat of an offensive stalemate as both teams failed again to find the end zone. Team Cardinal trumped team White 6-0 on April 12th thanks to a pair of field goals from junior kicker Jack Russell.
After coach Gary Andersen announced earlier in the week that quarterback Joel Stave would be shut down for the remainder of the spring, all eyes turned towards junior quarterback Tanner McEvoy. The quarterback competition, prior to Stave’s shut down, was already heating up as Andersen said McEvoy was taking great strides with getting acclimated with Wisconsin’s system.
McEvoy only threw the ball 10 times during the game and completed four of those passes for 55 yards. He led an impressive 46-yard scoring drive early in the third quarter which was capped off by a 41-yard field goal from Russell.
All signs are now pointing to the quarterback battle being McEvoy’s to lose after coach Andersen initially decided that Stave would be his starting quarterback come spring. The quarterback position is one of the deepest on the roster and it will be interesting to see how many make the roster and how many get redshirted.
With several injuries on the offensive side of the ball, coach Andersen and his staff made the decision to sit running backs Melvin Gordon and Corey Clement during the full-contact portion of the game. With their absences, the opportunity presented itself for the younger tailbacks on the roster to make their case for the third running back spot.
Most backs who are third on a depth chart usually do not expect to see the field unless there is an injury, but with the way Wisconsin’s offense is run all backs can expect to see some play. Take last season for example, Corey Clement was the third back on the depth chart behind two extremely talented backs and still ran for 555 yards and seven touchdowns.
Redshirt freshman Austin Ramesh made his case for that third position on the depth chart with his impressive performance during the spring game. Ramesh ran for 71 yards on 12 carries and also caught one pass out of the backfield.
The void at the wide receiver position, along with injuries, continues to present itself for this young Badgers team as they continue to look for a replacement for Jared Abbrederis. Senior receiver Kenzel Doe had the most impressive catch of the game after making a fully-extended diving catch for a touchdown from McEvoy during the non-contact portion of the game.
Redshirt freshman receiver Jazz Peavy led all receivers on the Cardinal team with 30 yards while redshirt sophomore Reggie Love led the White team with 24 yards on four receptions. Coach Andersen remains optimistic that sophomore receiver Rob Wheelwright will be ready by the first week of the season as he is coming off a knee injury and he expects him to play a large role in their passing attack this upcoming season
With the defense being limited for half of the game, a full assessment of this defense is just not plausible yet. However, a bright spot came from a position that showed excellent young talent last season and that is in the secondary.
Freshman defensive back Austin Hudson led all Badgers on both teams with five tackles, including one solo tackle. It seems that Hudson, along with other freshmen, are going to get a legit opportunity to have a spot on the first-team defense come August.
Wisconsin begins its 2014 season on August 30th as they head to Houston to take on LSU at NRG Stadium for the AdvoCare Texas Kickoff.