Most Indispensable Badger - No.5

Leading up to the season opener Aug.30, BadgerNation will announce its list of the 30 most important players to the Badgers' success in the 2014 season. He apparently won't be the starter, but the Badgers will need Joel Stave to be involved in the offense if Wisconsin wants to make the College Football Playoff.

Joel Stave’s experiences the past few seasons have helped him improve as a pocket-passing quarterback, but is that enough for Wisconsin? Reports out of Madison today say that Tanner McEvoy – No.10 on our list – will be the starting quarterback for the season opener against LSU, so where does that leave Stave?

With his injuries the past few seasons, no one can really tell what will happen with Stave. In fall camp, it was evident that Stave put in a lot of off season work that caused head coach Gary Andersen to say he deserves to play. Does that mean Wisconsin will be a two quarterback offense? We’ll find out in eight days.

Stats: Owns 13-6 record in 19 career starts ... ranks No. 10 all-time at UW with 3,598 career passing yards ... also ranks No. 4 all-time in career completion percentage (61.1%) and pass efficiency rating (140.8) ... ranks No. 8 all-time with 28 career TD passes ... his 13 wins are eighth-most by a UW quarterback ... .684 winning percentage as a starter ranks No. 7 all-time at UW … Started all 13 games last season ... threw for UW sophomore record 2,494 yards ... threw 22 touchdown passes, second-most in UW history ... set school record with 336 pass attempts and became just third QB in school history to complete 200 passes in a season (208).

Strengths: Stave knows how to play smart football. His accuracy and arm strength, once considered average to above average, have improved since last fall.

Weaknesses: Stave lacks some athleticism, which is apparent, and the inability to create big plays with his feet, which likely led to Andersen and the offensive staff picking McEvoy as the starter. He isn’t the dual-threat quarterback that the coaching staff has recruited to the last three recruiting cycles.

Why he is where he is: It’s hard to rank an experienced quarterback outside the top five, especially a quarterback that has put himself in position to be the starter. Stave is a tremendous leader from an offensive standpoint and no matter if he starts or not, he will be supportive of Andersen’s winning philosophy.

Overall: Stave has been an average player for the Badgers the past few seasons but average will not cut it if Wisconsin wants to contend for the College Football Playoff. He has had a solid past few weeks and it will be interesting to see how, if at all, the Badgers use him against LSU. One thing is for certain, Stave has shown in the practices open to the media that he’s a better passer than McEvoy, which could open up a big role for him in the offense.

Up Next: He has shown before he can change the momentum of the game on a single play, but number four on our list, just like Stave, needs to be an impact player every game for the Badgers considering his age and position.

Note: This is not a list of the team's 30 best players or a series about past success, but rather a list of which players are the most critical to the team’s success in 2014. The list was created based on a player’s overall importance, impact on the field, the player’s position and expectations. True freshmen were not considered for this season.

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