Gary Andersen met with Wisconsin media on Monday to address the Badgers' intriguing quarterback situation, their preparation for LSU, changing recruiting tactics and much more.
MADISON -- Monday afternoon was the first time that Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen addressed his quarterback situation since a report emerged Friday that Tanner McEvoy would be leading the Badgers' offense in Houston against LSU this Saturday. Andersen skirted around answering the question of who would start the season opener, talked about how he will prepare the team for the Tigers and mentioned a new recruiting territory designation for safeties coach Bill Busch.
Andersen wouldn't go as far as to say that the redshirt junior McEvoy was the starter for the game this weekend. He elaborated by saying that the Badgers' Week 1 starting quarterback might not be the quarterback they stick with all year. Andersen did make known that the decision of who will start at quarterback -- either McEvoy or incumbent starter Joel Stave -- come Saturday has already been determined.
"Well, it depends on if you want to follow a fake Twitter account of Tanner's," Andersen said. "People want to believe whatever they want to believe. Just another social media debacle, in my opinion.
"Whoever takes the first snap doesn't necessarily say he's going to be the guy for the whole season," Andersen said. "We've got two kids who want to compete and will continue to compete. That's where we're going to stay with it."
Andersen went on to say that two quarterbacks battling will be the story from the players and the coaching staff all season. He also mentioned that offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig was the main evaluator in the quarterback decision process, and that the decision on the starting quarterback was made Tuesday or Wednesday of last week, after the team's last scrimmage.
"I think it's important to make sure the (quarterbacks) understand where they sit and the direction that we're moving forward as a staff," Andersen said. "Like I said many times, I don't get involved in that. I don't deem that as my job just because it is the quarterback position. It wasn't an announcement to the team"
Cat out of the bag: Gordon confirms McEvoy's role
Melvin Gordon said Monday that LSU would be a tough opponent because the Tigers play hard, physical and are always athletic. He also talked about how the offense changes with McEvoy calling the shots rather than Stave. Then he went on to let everyone else know that McEvoy would be the starter come Saturday.
"[The offense] changes a lot actually. Tanner can run," Gordon said. "I'm glad I'm not a coach because I'm in practice like, ‘I don't know how they're going to do this.'
"Even though Tanner was named the starter, I think Joel will continue to work and wait for his chance," Gordon said. "This is his first collegiate start as a quarterback. I'm excited to see what he does."
With the option being a new wrinkle in the Badgers' offense, especially with McEvoy commanding the line of scrimmage, Gordon said he feels comfortable in that type of scheme. UW's star running back went on to explain that his high school team's (Kenosha Bradford in Wisconsin) base offense relied heavily on it, so he felt right at home. He ended by saying he wasn't good enough to play quarterback, so don't expect to see him under center anytime soon.
"When you go to Wisconsin, that's all you ever hear. I've been hearing it all my life." Gordon said referring to the disrespect from others on athleticism. "If [LSU] wants to think that, that's fine, but we're going to come to play."
Gordon touched on the disappointment felt he and his teammates have felt when it comes to not succeeding in big games. In recent history, the Badgers have lost four consecutive New Year's Day bowl games -- including three Rose Bowls -- and have lost six of their last seven bowl games.
"We're trying to finish. We're trying to win the big games and this is the year to start. Why not?" -Melvin Gordon
"Coach Andersen is trying to change that," Gordon said. "We're trying to finish. We're trying to win the big games and this is the year to start. Why not?"
LSU prep familiar to Andersen from Utah State days
While Andersen may not have directly addressed who his starter was, he did talk about how he would approach the upcoming game against LSU much like he did while at Utah State. He compared the preparation for the game to when his former Aggie teams would go on the road against a power-conference team.
"I'm such a believer in controlling the emotions and I say that from every coach to trainer to player to myself," Andersen explained. "Your team has to be able to take the field, be calm, be collected, be excited, which you know they're going to be the first game.
"Whenever we go on the road in a hostile environment, the key is to do what we do. Don't let other people affect you. Don't listen to everything that's going outside."
While Andersen has prior experience that he is leaning on to prepare for the Tigers, he said that LSU's own quarterback battle would not change how the Badgers prepared. He said although he has heard a lot of different things the opposing offense may throw Wisconsin's way in the first game, the talk may just be a smokescreen. Andersen did say that his staff has been watching all the film they can on LSU to identify areas where its long history of fakes may come into play Saturday
"Every fake that we can possibly find on YouTube or through film study or wherever again, I go back we're pulling up stuff from six, seven, 10 years ago," Andersen said. "I don't know, maybe we're trying to outthink ourselves. Usually the fake that you really try to prepare for is probably the last one that they would ever use. But we are on guard, definitely."
Busch in charge of recruiting Florida, Texas
Wide receivers coach Chris Beatty has alluded to the fact that recruiting Texas would be a new focus for the Badgers. Andersen mentioned on Monday how important Texas can be in the future for recruiting purposes, adding that during his first year, the coaching staff just "ran out of time" in terms of recruiting The Lone Star State. Andersen then stated that safeties coach Bill Busch will be in charge of recruiting the state.
"We've pulled coach Busch from the West Coast basically and put him into Texas and Florida," Andersen said. "He's proven to be a very solid recruiter through the years. That's the reason why we put Bill in Texas. I think we've had a little bit of success there.
"High school football is very important. The kids play at a high level. They go through a lot; they go through some spring balls. There's a lot of reason to recruit Texas, not just because they have tremendous athletes, but the kids understand the importance of the game.
"It helps us in an area we want to recruit in."
- Andersen said Monday was being treated as a Tuesday for the team because of the travel day.
- Andersen mentioned that although the LSU defensive line is very talented, he believes that Wisconsin's experienced offensive line is up for the challenge.
- Rafael Gaglianone will be the starting kicker, but Jack Russell and Andrew Endicott will also make the trip to Houston.
- The injury report for the Badgers was great and Andersen expects everyone to be ready.
- Andersen said that while the amount of freshmen that will travel with the Badgers to Houston (11-14) is abnormal, he sees the landscape of college football changing, giving young players a chance to play earlier because of early enrollees and summer camp.
- The Badgers are expecting to travel with eight receivers to Houston.
- Andersen said playing a team like LSU is not only an opportunity for the team, but for the university and a benchmark to see where the Badgers stack up among the nation's best.
- Andersen met Les Miles this summer in a hotel lobby on a recruiting trip, but knows of Miles well through his former assistant, Corey Raymond, who was his cornerbacks coach at Utah State and is currently the defensive backs coach at LSU.
- Gordon mentioned that although it is hasn't been planned, he and Corey Clement will work on a touchdown celebration.
- Rob Havenstein mentioned that whomever is at quarterback doesn't change the offensive line's feeling of having to be leaders on the team because of their experience.
- Andersen said that having the game in Houston, and the fact that J.J. Watt will be able to see his brothers play, will be a special moment for Derek and T.J.
- Andersen hopes to have Watt, the honorary captain, speak to the team before the game.