Despite a shaky start to the game, Stave was able to come into a rhythm in the second quarter, putting together two scoring drives that put Wisconsin ahead 14-13 going into halftime.
"I thought we were rolling pretty good on offense," Stave said. "We were able to put together some really nice drives in the first half being able to convert some third downs in the red zone."
That rhythm was derailed late in the third quarter, one of the many reasons why Wisconsin wasn't able to hold on to a four-point second-half lead in a 34-24 defeat to South Carolina at the Citrus Bowl.
On Wisconsin's third drive in the second half, Stave injured his throwing shoulder after cornerback Victor Hampton hit him hard during a quarterback keeper. Stave only lasted three more plays before having to exit the game.
"I don't think it's my collarbone," Stave said. "I threw that one other ball after it happened and I don't think I could have done that if I had a broken collarbone."
The injury forced Wisconsin to insert sixth-year Curt Phillips, who had only played two games all season and had taken no meaningful reps since last year's Rose Bowl. "Our offense did not change when Curt came into the game," Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen said. "We expect the second team quarterback to be able to come into the game ready and Curt has been in this kind of atmosphere before. He's played in big time games before but I'm sure he wants to play better but he didn't handicap our offense."
The results suggest otherwise. All three of Wisconsin's drive with Phillips in at quarterback ended in turnovers, including two interceptions in South Carolina territory. Phillips completed 7 of 12 passes for 37 yards and, like Stave, couldn't lead a scoring drive in the second half.
"I think I would like to have a couple back," Phillips said. "Obviously there were some opportunities for us and our defense did a great job of getting the ball back for us … We had a chance and we didn't capitalize on a couple of them."
Unsure what his status is for spring practices, Stave knows that he'll be practicing his slide technique this coming offseason.
"I've been telling myself this for a long time that I have to slide and that I can't take hits like that," Stave said. "I have to realize that it happens real fast and when you're playing good players there going to be on you in no time. I have to make sure that I get down so I don't take hits like that."
Stave threw two touchdown passes in the first half, his 21st and 22nd touchdown passes of the season. That moved him into second place on UW's single-season list, trailing only Russell Wilson (33 TD passes in 2011).
With 250 rushing yards today, RBs James White and Melvin Gordon became the FBS single-season all-time leading rushing duo. Gordon finished the season with 1,609 yards while White rushed for 1,444 yards. Their combined total 3,053 yards are better than the FBS record of 3,004 set by Nevada's Cody Fajardo and Stefphon Jefferson in 2012.
White ran for 106 yards, finishing his career with 4,011 rushing yards, good for fourth place in school history, trailing only Ron Dayne (7,125), Montee Ball (5,140) and Anthony Davis (4,676). For White, it was his 18th career 100-yard rushing game, tying him with John Clay for sixth place on Wisconsin's all-time list.
UW ran for 293 yards today, the third-best rushing performance in a bowl game in school history.
Kenzel Doe returned a fourth-quarter kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown. The last Badger to return a kickoff for a touchdown was David Gilreath, who took the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown against No. 1 Ohio State on Oct. 16, 2010. It is the first time a UW player has returned a kickoff for a touchdown in a bowl game. The previous long kickoff return in a bowl game was also by Gilreath, 60 yards vs. Tennessee in the 2008 Outback Bowl.