Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen spoke with reporters Thursday in a Big Ten teleconference and addressed the team’s progress so far this spring.
“Spring ball has gone well. I feel like one of the goals walking in was to be consistent with our effort, care factor and want-to,” Andersen said. “I think the kids have adjusted very well [to the new offensive and defensive schemes], and I believe the coaches have also.”
Throughout the course of spring ball, competition is usually not at a premium, as it is a time for the development of young players and a handling of the new schemes implemented by offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig and defensive coordinator Dave Aranda. However, Andersen has made it a priority to find a time to get the competitive juices flowing.
“There’s going to be no days off,” Andersen said. “I want competitors and I want to try to help them learn how to compete every single day.”
The ongoing quarterback battle entering the conclusion of spring practices got a little bit more clear, as Andersen noted redshirt sophomore Joel Stave and redshirt senior Curt Phillips have stood out from the rest of the pack.
“Joel and Curt have separated themselves,” Andersen said. “Joel and Curt are taking a majority of snaps, and that will remain the same throughout the rest of spring and even into what we’re going to do in the spring game.”
Andersen further noted he will not name a starting quarterback prior to the start of fall camp. A name to keep in mind in addition to Stave and Phillips is junior college transfer and dual-threat quarterback Tanner McEvoy.
On the defensive side of the ball, the loss of redshirt senior defensive end David Gilbert due to lingering foot injuries has left a considerable hole for the Badgers up front, especially since Gilbert would have been a likely starter off the edge in Aranda’s new 3-4 defense. Redshirt senior linebacker Chris Borland suggested redshirt seniors Tyler Dippel and Brendan Kelly and redshirt sophomore Jesse Hayes are viable replacements for Gilbert.
“[Gilbert will] be missed, but we’ve got plenty of guys in that spot,” Borland said.
With the sudden departure of former head coach Bret Bielema and the arrival of Andersen, some might have expected an adjustment process for UW. However, Borland noted the team has handled the turnover pretty well.
“We’ve had a lot to adjust to, but we’ve taken it on the fly and have done well,” Borland said. “Things kind of blew over quickly. Coach [Barry] Alvarez came in and kind of calmed guys’ nerves, and everything was back to normal pretty quickly.”
Wisconsin has three practices remaining and will conclude its spring season April 20 with the annual spring game.