With an up and down season in 2014 to say the least, fifth-year senior quarterback Joel Stave will have the success of the passing game and the offense in his hands, literally and figuratively. After battling through a mental block at the beginning of last season, Stave showed some bright spots in helping lead the Badgers to a Big Ten West division championship.
With a promising, but unproven, receiving corps at his disposal, first-year head coach Paul Chryst will have to rely on the veteran quarterback to be able to hit the receivers consistently. With no other experienced quarterback on the roster, the Badgers will likely sink or swim under Stave.
Strengths: Stave has solid size (6-5, 220 pounds) for the quarterback position, able to use his frame to see over big defensive lineman, which is key in the Big Ten. Most importantly, Stave is a winner. Having started games over the last each of the last three seasons, Stave is 21-7 for the Badgers and has a chance to leave school as the program’s winningest quarterback.
Weaknesses: Stave is pretty much the same quarterback he was his redshirt freshman season, which isn’t necessarily a great thing. Of course, former offensive coordinators Matt Canada and Andy Ludwig aren’t the greatest developers of QB talent either, but Stave has never taken the big leap forward one would expect from year to year. A QB whose arm strength is OK, Stave’s decision making needs to improve, as he’s thrown 23 interceptions the last two seasons.
Why he is #2: The quarterback should rank near the top on any team and Stave is no exception. With young wide receivers around him and a young offensive line in front of him, Stave’s play will be critical, as poor play will jeopardize Wisconsin’s chances at remaining successful. He has the ability to be a solid quarterback, but we have only seen a few glimpses at his true potential.
Overall: Stave is such a crucial part of this Wisconsin, whether it’s from a leadership or playing standpoint. Recruited initially by Chryst, Stave is heading into fall camp confident in the offense, his new head coach’s playbook and that he’s the starter, meaning he has enough confidence where he doesn’t have to look over his shoulder throughout camp.The Badgers need Stave to be a consistent, steady influence on the field and complete passes to all three levels of the defenses. The easy passes have been Stave’s bugaboo at times throughout his career, missing the wide-open receivers that could move the chains. Yes the Badgers have always had impressive seasons running the ball, but Stave will need to step up and be a playmaker in the air.