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Sunday, July 03, 2022

Football

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FOOTBALL

Football: Badgers talk youth and position battles at Big Ten Media Days

With just over a month until Wisconsin takes on Louisiana State to open its 2014 season, head coach Gary Andersen met with press at Big Ten Media Days in Chicago to discuss his team's future. Andersen, entering his second season as head coach, will oversee key changes throughout the Badgers’ roster. He emphasized that his team’s success rests on the younger players’ ability to gel with the veterans and push one another. “There’s a lot of new faces that our seniors are challenging to get involved in the offense, the defense and the special teams and be involved in our team,” Andersen said. “And as those young guys go, in certain positions, our season will definitely follow.” Andersen designed Wisconsin’s first few practices to change up the roster and place the younger players among, but also against, the veterans. “They’ll get reps, they’ll put it out there, and it will allow the youth to be able to mix in a very competitive situation with the veterans on the team,” Andersen said. “And hopefully that will allow the cream to rise to the top quicker.” Redshirt junior running back Melvin Gordon, the undisputed leader of Wisconsin’s offense, told reporter Mike Lucas that he has enjoyed working with the new players in a more vocal way than he is used to.  “To break out of that role and be more vocal has made me a better player,” Gordon said. While Gordon has a stronghold on the carries at running back, Andersen will pay close attention to the developments at wide receiver, where Wisconsin must fill the void left by graduated wideout Jared Abbrederis.  Senior wide receiver Kenzel Doe and redshirt junior Jordan Fredrick will anchor the revamped receiving corps, but the depth chart is muddled after them. Andersen listed redshirt sophomore Alex Erickson, redshirt freshman Jazz Peavy and sophomore Robert Wheelwright as candidates that will vie for playing time. “We’re not going to have Jared out there at this point,” Andersen said. “Somebody’s going to have to catch a lot of balls and do a lot of special things to be put (on) that pedestal.” Andersen did not set a definite time for when he will choose a starting quarterback, a spot that redshirt juniors Tanner McEvoy and Joel Stave have been vying for all offseason. McEvoy and Stave will split snaps during the first few practices, while freshman D.J. Gillins will also be given reps, according to Andersen “The kids on the team will understand it, the coaches will understand it and at that time we’ll make a statement and have a starting quarterback,” Andersen said of the competition. “It may not be until we jog off the sidelines for the first snap at the LSU game, though.”



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