McEvoy Ready for Fresh Start

After losing his starting quarterback job early last season, and being relegated to a specialty player, senior Tanner McEvoy is excited for his role this season in Wisconsin's secondary and, perhaps, as a wide receiver in the offense.

BadgerNation: Can you talk a little bit how the conversation went with Paul Chryst when he came here. He said you guys were going to sit down and hammer things out for this spring. Can you share with what you guys talked about?

Tanner McEvoy: I knew I didn’t want to keep going with the quarterbacks. I knew with (Chryst) coming in he had a previous relationship with Joel (Stave). I was just ready to move to another position, trying to get ready to hopefully play at the next level. I talked to Coach about that and just tried to think of myself and as a team to make the best decision to what position to play. We landed on playing safety with a little bit of a role on offense, but will see how that plays out.

BN: Did you feel like playing quarterback here would be an uphill battle because of that relationship or just better suited somewhere else?

TM: Just better suited. There’s a bunch of variables that go into it.

BN: How do you evaluate a year ago, kind of up and down, but it seems like you found a niche later in the year? You had a great bowl game. Barry Alvarez said you made a lot of big saving tackles to help Wisconsin win the game. So how do you weigh last year?

TM: Every year is a learning year. Last year was just like any other … actually it wasn’t like any other. I started the season at quarterback. Obviously everyone wants to keep their starting position and have a great season, but obviously that didn’t work out. I had the role as a wildcat quarterback, and I tried to make the best of it and make the most of my opportunities. Bowl game they needed a safety and I saw an opportunity again to see the field more, and it worked out.

BN: One could argue that when you did make the switch last season you did make the most of your opportunity. Is that something you hang your hat on as the wildcat quarterback? It seems like when you were put into a situation, you were able to achieve what you wanted to or what the offense was designed to achieve in those situations.

TM: Yeah, I guess so. I’m going to do the best I can when I’m out there. Obviously I had a few good runs in the backfield playing that wildcat spot. That’s what they wanted me to do. We had a good scheme to get me open on a few of them but teams started to catch on towards the end of the year. It worked for a while, so I was happy with it.

BN: You’ve been doing a lot of stuff with safety during practice but after you are doing routes with Stave as a wide receiver. How important is it for you to have a spring like this where you can focus on the two positions to build up a knowledge on both positions for the fall?

TM: That’s what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to get a feel for both positions. Obviously safety I’ve been doing that more these first few practices, but I’m sure as spring ball goes on there will be more and more switching up, at least that’s what I think. I just have to learn as much as I can. I have a lot of time before anything actually counts, so I’m looking forward to it.

BN: Is there a good carry over from Coach Busch to Coach Jones in terms of what he’s trying to teach you at the safety spot? If so what is he trying to hammer home with you this spring?

TM: My role usually before this year was going in on passing downs and playing the middle of the field and playing the ball. There not much technique to that, honestly, it’s just back pedaling and reading the play. It’s good to have Coach Jones here who’s teaching a lot more technique, and I’m learning a lot more about the position and the ins and outs. They’re both great coaches but there’s not too much carry over. Football is football. You just have to adjust to the new terminology and to the new coach.

BN: You have to be pretty excited about the secondary room you’re stepping into, especially returning both corners, Michael Caputo returns and Lubern Figaro having had a nice freshman season?

TM: Ever since I got here people have said that’s our weak spot for whatever reason in the defensive backfield. But this year we have a lot coming back and we have a lot of confidence. It’s the same defense so that’s fun to carry it over and not have to learn something new. I think we have a great group and we’re going to make the most of it.

BN: How much wide receiver do you think are you going to play this year?

TM: I have no idea really. That’s a Coach Chryst question.

BN: Do you feel wherever you are suited, whether its safety or wide receiver, that you feel comfortable at both spots? TM: I’m use to wide receiver. I’m comfortable at it. I played it in high school. It was kind of my first position that I ever played that I really enjoyed, so I’m comfortable with it. Running routes now, I’m just trying to get my feet back, getting the routes down and catching the ball.

BN: How important is it for this team to come into this year off of a bowl win and can you see a difference in the team?

TM: It has been an interesting off season with Coach (Gary) Andersen leaving before the game then having such a great bowl game getting a win. We needed to send the seniors off in the right way. It was good to get that win and I think it carried over into winter workouts with (Strength) Coach Kolodziej. It’s always different getting to know people. You feel them out and stuff, but Coach Kolodziej is a good coach. He’s getting us right. We’re going to be more powerful and explosive this year.

BN: Coach Alvarez said he wanted to get you guys back into more of a power phase instead of that finesse/conditioning phase. Has that been the biggest difference?

TM: I think so. That is starting to carry over, and we’re starting to see it. It’s still early in the year to figure it out, but we’re working hard in the spring to get our weight up and stay explosive.

BN: What’s the big goal for you between now and the end of spring? Where do you want to be at with on the field and off the field stuff so you can go into summer feeling like you had a really good spring?

TM: Just learning both sides. I want to play both wide receiver and safety, learning the offense and defense, creating chemistry and stuff and creating turnovers. That’s kind of our main idea this whole spring to get turnovers, force fumbles and interceptions. I’m looking forward to getting after that.

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