“You can kind of stay more into it when you’re running off the field one play, right back on the field,” said Stave. “It’s almost like you’re a running back or something.”
After four games of No.25 Wisconsin splitting series between Stave and McEvoy, the Badgers took it a step further by interchanging quarterbacks during drives in their 34-16 victory over Purdue at Ross-Ade Stadium Saturday.
Wisconsin (7-2, 4-1 Big Ten) put in the mid-series quarterback switch on Thursday, a decision by offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig to try to take the offense’s execution up a notch.
“When you do things like that or you play two quarterbacks, you want to do all you can to be prepared for the moment,” said Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen. “They have been the last few weeks handling the series, but now we’ve taken another step in that area. We can mix and match, which causes some problems for a defense to adjust within a series.”
That plan made the Boilermaker’s scramble since McEvoy would appear in middle of drives and Stave would typically come in on passing downs.
Getting his first action in the second quarter, McEvoy threw just once the whole game (a 6-yard pass to Melvin Gordon), but he carried four times for 42 yards, including a 13-yard touchdown on a quarterback keeper that gave Wisconsin a 31-16 lead late in the third quarter.
That pushed McEvoy’s season rushing total to 442 yards, 24 shy of Brooks Bollinger’s 2002 record for season rushing yards by a quarterback.
Correlated or not, Stave had his best game of the season by completing 19 of 29 passes for a season-high 219 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
“I thought we did a good job from my standpoint, from his standpoint, throwing the ball, running the ball, being effective as a balanced offense,” said Stave. “We weren’t so heavily reliant on the run this game, even with not necessarily the greatest conditions. We were able to stay balanced and really move the ball.”
Tindal Being Eased In
Traveling with the team four days after the death of his mother, freshman cornerback Derrick Tindal didn’t return as the team’s nickel cornerback but played him in certain situations.
“I was a little bit worried about him,” said Andersen, who said junior Devin Gaulden rotated in with Tindal in third-and-long situations and safety Lubern Figaro became more involved in the run game. “I wanted to be smart. He said he was fine. He looked fine. He appeared to play OK when he was in there at the end, but it was probably good for him to get out there and move around a little bit.”
Tindal, who will travel home early next week for the funeral, didn’t finish with a tackle.
From the Infirmary
Wisconsin’s running game had benefited from the return of Derek Watt the last three weeks, but the junior fullback struggled through warmups as he battled through a tight quadriceps injury and was eventually deemed unavailable prior to the game. Backup Derek Straus worked at fullback in Watt’s place.
Having missed five games this season after breaking a bone in his foot, Andersen wanted to be cautious with Watt considering the Badgers’ tough finishing stretch to the regular season.
“Just being protective,” said Andersen, adding outside linebacker Jesse Hayes was in the same situation and didn’t play the whole game. “They would have played if they absolutely had to.”
Andersen did not have an update on senior defensive end Konrad Zagzebski, who appeared to injure his left ankle in the first quarter. Zagzebski went to the locker room on crutches but was only in a walking boot after the game.
Andersen on how long he’ll enjoy the victory before switching to Nebraska
“We’ll enjoy it tonight, and we’ll get after it bright and early tomorrow morning. I’d imagine as the night trickles away at some point we’ll throw on some film and starting watching them. That’s usually how it takes place, but we’ll enjoy this on the way home. You need to. You’ve got to enjoy the victories.”
Extra Points: Wisconsin has worn red helmets seven times over the past two seasons. UW has won all seven games by a combined score of 298-78 … Melvin Gordon average 8.9 yards per touch against Purdue … Stave has thrown 33 career touchdown passes, tied with Russell Wilson and Jim Sorgi for fifth on Wisconsin’s all-time list. Today was his 11th career game with multiple touchdown passes and second this season … senior receiver Jordan Fredrick hauled in a career high five passes for a personal-best 64 yards.