Syracuse upsets No. 1 seed South Carolina for first-ever bid to the Elite Eight

first_imgSIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Alexis Peterson ran to half court, bent her knees and brought her palms together. She dropped her back and looked to the top of the Denny Sanford Premier Center. Syracuse’s bench spilled onto the court, too. South Carolina’s players walked off, some with their heads tucked inside their jersey, coming to the realization that their season was over.Peterson jumped into Briana Day’s arms and Brianna Butler stood by their side. 64 percent of Syracuse’s scoring, 43 percent of the Orange’s rebounding and 57 percent of SU’s assists met on the court.Only minutes had passed before Peterson’s aunt, Carla Norris was on her cell phone and yelled, “Huge upset! Huge! Huge!”SU improbably knocked off the one-loss Gamecocks in an 80-72 win to advance to its first-ever Elite Eight. Seven percent of voters in a Twitter poll chose Syracuse to advance out of the Sioux Falls region. 6.1 percent of participants in ESPN’s Bracket Challenge picked the Orange to advance past the Sweet 16. Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on March 25, 2016 at 9:17 pm Contact Paul: pmschwed@syr.edu | @pschwedscenter_img “I feel that our coaching staff and the 15 people dressed in uniform are the only ones that believe that we can pull off an upset of this magnitude at this time of year,” Peterson said. “I was overcome with joy.”After being blown out by South Carolina in the Round of 32 and losing to USC by four during the regular season last year, No. 4 seed Syracuse (28-7, 13-3 Atlantic Coast) got revenge against the No. 1 seed Gamecocks (33-2, 16-0 Southeastern) in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. SU will face No. 7 seed Tennessee on Sunday at 3:30 p.m.Following Syracuse’s loss to second-ranked Notre Dame in the ACC tournament championship — its only loss since Jan. 25 — Orange head coach Quentin Hillsman said his team could win a national title. Nineteen days later, SU got another step closer.“Coach said as long as we keep the game close, we’ll have the opportunity to win,” Butler said. “He gave us confidence and told us to play the game the way we’ve been playing all year. That’s what we did.”The Orange knocked off No. 13 seed Army and No. 12 seed Albany in the first two rounds of the tournament. But SU was seeded significantly higher than those teams and the matchup with the Gamecocks was SU’s biggest challenge yet.With just over five minutes left to play, Butler tied it at 61 with a jump shot. Peterson looked up at the scoreboard and thought back to last season’s matchup with South Carolina in the Bahamas. That game was tied at 60 with just over two minutes to play. But in that time, SU committed two turnovers and USC hit a 3 and a layup to take a four-point lead for good.“I looked up and was like, ‘You got to be solid. At all costs, this is it,’” Peterson said. “If we were solid, I knew we had a chance to finish it out.”Syracuse didn’t commit a single turnover in the final five minutes. Butler, who started the game 4-of-13 from the field, hit two 3s in that period. Hillsman has told her throughout her entire career to shoot the ball even when her shots aren’t falling. Down the stretch, it paid off.The first came in transition from the top of the key. The second came out of an SU timeout and Butler got open curling around a screen.“I just told Butler (at halftime), you got to make some shots or we’re going home,” Hillsman said. “Second half she was amazing. She was amazing.”South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley said that’s what happens when players get into foul trouble. Four of her players had four fouls and couldn’t play as aggressively on defense at the end of the game.With each make, Syracuse’s bench jumped up even more explosively than the last. SU’s players on the court scrambled to get back into its full-court press. And the small Syracuse contingent in the Premier Center repeatedly rose to its feet and let out cheers of “Let’s go Orange!”The Gamecocks turned to its go-to players, Alaina Coates and A’ja Wilson for layups down the stretch. But its 2s couldn’t match Syracuse’s 3s.“We had 7 percent. That’s not a lot, you know,” Hillsman said of the poll. “We just said, We’re just going to go and play basketball. They can give us the 7 percent. We were 100 percent confident if we played our game we had a chance to win the basketball game.”When Syracuse was placed in the Sioux Falls region on Selection Monday, Hillsman said he was looking forward to learning more about the city located in South Dakota. With Friday night’s win, he’ll have an extra two days to do just that. Commentslast_img read more


Syracuse football recruiting: Running back Otto Zaccardo joins Class of 2016 as preferred walk-on

first_img Related Stories 3 observations from the Syracuse football spring gameSyracuse football recruiting: Track the Class of 2016Adam Dulka discusses why he committed to SyracuseClass of 2016 Ohio linebacker Zack Lesko commits to Syracuse as preferred walk-on Published on April 9, 2016 at 6:50 pm Contact Sam: sjfortie@syr.edu | @Sam4TR Syracuse picked up its second preferred walk-on this week with Worcester (Massachusetts) Academy, Class of 2016 running back Otto Zaccardo.Zaccardo, who announced his commitment via Twitter on Friday night, said he was recruited primarily by new defensive quality control coach, John Pike. Commentscenter_img AdvertisementThis is placeholder textZaccardo graduated from Lincoln-Sudbury Regional (Massachusetts) High School in 2014 as the school’s top rusher on the football team and a leader on the undefeated track and field team. He spent his post-graduate year at Worcester Academy.The running back, who was listed at 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds on Hudl.com in 2015, joins a new Orange offense that plans to be much more up-tempo than in years past and ran 155 plays in the spring game. Zaccardo’s Hudl bio also lists his 40-yard dash time at 4.56 seconds.He is the third walk-on to commit to Syracuse since new head coach Dino Babers’ hiring and the fifth player to join the Orange since National Signing Day. Track the Class of 2016 here.He joins a roster that has six running backs already, but none that are freshmen. Syracuse has four sophomores (Jacob Hill, Dontae Strickland, Jordan Fredericks and Tyrone Perkins), one junior (Ervin Philips) and one senior (George Morris).Strickland led the ground attack in Syracuse’s spring game on April 2, followed by freshman Moe Neal, who is listed as a wide receiver, and Fredericks. Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more


Dino Babers: ‘It’s a blessing both of these young men are still with us’

first_imgOn Wednesday morning, Dino Babers spoke publicly for the first time since two of his players were allegedly stabbed by former teammate Naesean Howard on Saturday evening. The first-year SU head coach said defensive back Chauncey Scissum is still in the hospital and he hopes that Scissum will be released later this week, while defensive back Corey Winfield was released on Monday.In response to an article posted on Syracuse.com Wednesday morning that cited a source saying Babers told the team to not wear any Syracuse gear in public since Howard’s “people” may still be lurking around campus, Babers heavily refuted that.“The thing about the meeting was correct. Everything else written in the article was incorrect and inaccurate,” Babers said. “I actually told them to put their Syracuse ‘S’ on and wear it proudly around campus.”Babers confirmed that earlier in the year, Howard approached him in the parking lot adjacent to Manley Field House and started a conversation. The head coach said Howard said, “’Hey, I would like to join the football team,’” to which Babers responded, “’Who are you?’”Babers then told Howard he had to go through a standard background check for walk-ons in order to be given a shot, but eventually that background check wasn’t satisfactory enough for the new staff to offer Howard a chance to walk on.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“Everybody has a right to change … but patterns are something that you try to stay away from and we just decided as a staff the pattern was too strong,” Babers said. “It’s not a right to be on a football team … it’s a privilege.”MORE COVERAGE:Witness details alleged stabbing, South Campus partyDefensive back Corey Winfield out of hospital 2 days after stabbing incidentCourt documents: Naesean Howard stabbed SU football players multiple times The Tuesday morning meeting with the team wasn’t prompted by the stabbing, Babers said, and that he holds a meeting at 8 a.m. every Tuesday in the offseason. This one just happened to be the first after Winfield and Scissum were allegedly stabbed and there were no specific safety instructions given based on Saturday evening’s events.“You can’t live life looking over your shoulder,” Babers said. “I think these young men will be just fine.”Howard is due back in court at 10 a.m. on Friday. Both players he allegedly stabbed are doing well, Babers said, and when asked about Howard, Babers never mentioned him by name.“It’s a blessing both of these young men are still with us,” Babers said. Comments Published on April 20, 2016 at 12:03 pm Contact Matt: mcschnei@syr.edu | @matt_schneidman Facebook Twitter Google+ Related Stories Witness details alleged stabbing, South Campus partySyracuse DB Corey Winfield out of the hospital 2 days after allegedly being stabbed by former teammateCourt documents: Naesean Howard stabbed SU football players multiple timesSyracuse football DBs Corey Winfield and Chauncey Scissum allegedly stabbed by former teammate Naesean Howardlast_img read more


Beat writers predict winner in Syracuse-Florida State matchup

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on November 17, 2016 at 10:59 pm Syracuse (4-6, 2-4 Atlantic Coast) takes on No. 17 Florida State (7-3, 4-3) on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. The Orange faces Dalvin Cook, who is regarded as one of the best running backs in the country. Check out how our beat writers think the matchup will unfold.Tomer Langer (4-3)GutterballFlorida State 35, Syracuse 17A month ago, this seemed like an interesting game that Syracuse, although still an underdog, would have a chance in. Florida State was coming off an incredibly unconvincing 17-6 win to Wake Forest (after a one-point victory against Miami and a stretch where it lost two of its four games), and Syracuse was coming off its best regular season win in program history with a team flying high. That all came crashing down to earth with Eric Dungey’s injury against Clemson. With him unlikely to play, it’ll be hard for SU to compete in this game that pushes them almost completely out of bowl contention.Chris Libonati (8-2)Dalvin Cook-edFlorida State 34, Syracuse 13The last time I predicted the No. 17 team in the country to beat Syracuse, the Orange upset Virginia Tech. What do I know? I do think this is a bit different, though. Zaire Franklin called Dalvin Cook the best running back in the country and I agree. Deondre Francois has been solid. I just don’t think the SU defense will suppress the Florida State offense.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textJon Mettus (8-2)Early FeastFlorida State 43, Syracuse 13The No. 17 team in the country is coming to the Carrier Dome, but don’t expect fans to stream onto the field after the game like when SU topped Virginia Tech earlier this year. Syracuse is undersized, undermanned and overmatched. Dino Babers said he “hope(s)” SU can win. And that’s all it’ll be: a hope. Cook and company are just too good for a Zack Mahoney-led squad to knock off. Commentslast_img read more


Tyler Lydon’s solo act not enough to rescue Syracuse at No. 9 North Carolina

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — With Syracuse’s comeback on life support in the second half, Tyler Lydon provided the same jolt he’d been delivering all game. The sophomore positioned himself near the top of the key and buried a long jumper, cutting SU’s deficit to 10 with about 11 minutes to go.On his way back down the court, Lydon placed one finger over his mouth, shushing a sellout crowd counting down the minutes to Roy Williams’ 800th head coaching win. It was about the only moment all night from Syracuse that warranted posturing. Because even during Lydon’s last-ditch, 18-point second half effort, the Tar Heels convincingly shut down the Orange.“I don’t really care how I played,” Lydon said. “My shot was falling, that was great. But we didn’t win, so it doesn’t matter.”The dynamic, 6-foot-9 sophomore was a one-man show for the Orange on both ends of the floor. Lydon led his team with 26 points, and his seven rebounds was second most for the visitors. But given what SU has shown in this strenuous season, one-man shows often don’t translate to wins, and it didn’t on Monday evening in North Carolina. No. 9 UNC (17-3, 5-1 Atlantic Coast) easily dispatched Syracuse (11-8, 3-3), 85-68, leaving SU winless in its six games played outside of the Carrier Dome.“It can’t just be one guy,” senior forward Tyler Roberson said. “In order for us to win against great teams like North Carolina, we have to all play well.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textOnly once did the Orange seriously tease an upset, charging into the second half with a 12-0 run that cut the Tar Heels’ lead to three. Lydon was the catalyst, corralling a rebound and sinking a 3 to kick-start the run. When North Carolina regained its lead and stretched it back to eight, Lydon answered with consecutive jumpers to slice the lead back to six.He seemed to have answers for anything UNC threw at him: Successfully hoisting shots over UNC’s guards when Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks sealed off the paint, and finding space underneath the hoop when they didn’t.“It was kind of a mismatch problem with him,” senior guard Andrew White said. “(North Carolina) was really big inside, so he was able to get his perimeter game going a little bit.“That was something we expect of him …  He showed a lot of offensive ability.”But the problem about this Syracuse team is that it consistently needs so much more from Lydon than his marquee offensive nights. Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim has been in a season-long bind defensively, and once again he called on Lydon, officially listed as a forward, to play significant minutes as SU’s center.Taurean Thompson played 12 minutes, and Dajuan Coleman never left his seat on the bench, just like he has in all of conference play (with the exception of one minute against Miami). Left to fend for himself down low, Lydon played all but one minute and performed as well as any of SU’s defenders on a night when they were outrebounded by 20. He and Roberson collected more than 60 percent of Syracuse’s rebounds, highlighting more voids in a Syracuse team with plenty of them.“He was just on,” Roberson said of Lydon. “… He just wasn’t missing. He was playing defense, and he played a really good game. We just fell a little short.”Boeheim agreed with Roberson’s sentiment about falling a “little short,” despite the final 17-point deficit. The veteran head coach thought it was SU’s best road game of the year. Yet, at least on the scoresheet, Lydon’s outing was the only overwhelmingly positive item.White scored 15 points off five 3s, but struggled to create his own shot against a rotating group of North Carolina player. Tyus Battle also pitched in 13 points, but didn’t do much outside of SU’s second-half 12-0 run when he had a pair of steals and two baskets. Lydon was largely all Syracuse had on Monday.When it’s just Lydon, it’s just not enough. Comments Published on January 16, 2017 at 11:15 pm Contact Connor: cgrossma@syr.edu | @connorgrossmanlast_img read more


Beat writers predict winner of Syracuse-Notre Dame men’s basketball

first_img Published on January 20, 2017 at 2:49 pm Facebook Twitter Google+ Syracuse (11-8, 3-3 Atlantic Coast) travels to South Bend, Indiana, to take on No. 15 Notre Dame (16-3, 5-1) on Saturday at noon. The Orange has yet to win a game away from the Carrier Dome and is still in search of a marquee win. A victory against the Fighting Irish would satisfy both holes in SU’s NCAA Tournament resume. Syracuse has won four straight against Notre Dame including last year’s 15-point upset at home.Here’s how our beat writers predict the game will unfold.Connor Grossman (11-8)HomesickNotre Dame 83, Syracuse 71There’s not much use in predicting a “signature” win for Syracuse’s resume until one actually comes to fruition. SU will have chances against Florida State, Duke and Louisville, just to name a few of the ACC obstacles that still lie ahead. But the Orange has looked inept on the road this season, and going up against a Notre Dame team with one loss in conference play, there’s little hope for the visitors on Saturday afternoon. Notre Dame is one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the conference, and they’re just as good at defending the 3. That’s how UND tabs Syracuse with its fourth conference loss.Matt Schneidman (10-9)Luck of the OrangeSyracuse 73, Notre Dame 71AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSyracuse has won four straight against Notre Dame, including last year’s tilt in the Carrier Dome when the Orange scored 44 first-half points. Jim Boeheim is 16-5 against Mike Brey, and the Fighting Irish is coming off its first conference loss to Florida State earlier this week. You won’t find any numbers on paper that give the Orange a sliver of hope to win this one; ND is the best foul-shooting team in the country and a top-10 offensive team, among other areas of strength. Just trust me, or call me crazy. Syracuse gets its first signature win.Paul Schwedelson (12-7)Taking a south bendNotre Dame 77, Syracuse 65If you judge individual talent, Notre Dame may not stack up with some of the other top teams in the conference, but the Fighting Irish is one of the best all-around teams in the nation. UND is 8-3 in games decided by 10 points or less, a testament to its ability to win ugly. Bonzie Colson leads the ACC with 12 10-rebound games and 11 double-doubles. Syracuse can’t afford to get beat on the boards in a second straight game, but don’t expect that to happen. Commentslast_img read more


Lamar Jackson and Louisville drain what’s left of Syracuse’s bowl hopes in 56-10 Orange loss

first_img Published on November 18, 2017 at 8:07 pm Contact: jtbloss@syr.edu | @jtbloss LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A week ago, Dino Babers asked a room full of reporters when they had last seen a quarterback perform as well as Wake Forest’s John Wolford had in his 500-yard game against Syracuse. Then Babers realized the answer was obvious and supplied it himself.“Well, it’s probably the guy we’re about to play this week, isn’t it?” he said.SU’s second-year head coach was alluding to Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, the reigning Heisman winner who on Saturday at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium led the UofL (7-4, 4-4 Atlantic Coast) in a rainy, 56-10 dissection of Syracuse (4-7, 2-5) a year after posting an SU opponent record of 610 total yards in the Carrier Dome. Jackson’s 381 total yards this time around reminded the country why Louisville ranked No. 16 before the season began. His dominance is the latest reason why, for the fourth straight season, it’s highly unlikely Syracuse will play in a bowl game.“Disappointed we couldn’t stop more things on defense,” Babers said. “Lamar is a first-round draft pick, and someone just asked me if he’s better than (former Baylor quarterback and 2011 Heisman winner Robert Griffin III). I want to say no, but God dang, he’s special.”While Jackson’s skills acted as the finishing blow to SU’s bowl hopes, Syracuse put itself in this position. Even the most optimistic preseason forecasts likely pegged the Louisville game as a loss. But entering the matchup against Louisville with four wins meant there was no more room to lose. SU needed a win to make next week’s game matter. Instead of having a chance to extend its seniors’ careers by earning a bowl berth, SU will send off its eldest players with yet another season-finale that means essentially nothing, and making this senior class the first to leave without playing in a bowl game since 2009.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“Guys are just hurting, myself included,” senior linebacker Zaire Franklin said. “I think we will feel it all night.”Flashbacks to Louisville’s 62-28 drubbing of SU in the Carrier Dome last season rushed back immediately after the opening kickoff. In 36 seconds, Louisville ran two plays to go 80 yards for a touchdown. In response, SU senior quarterback Zack Mahoney threw an interception on Syracuse’s first offensive possession. Orange quarterbacks will now finish the season having tossed a pick on their first drive of every road game this year.Later, Jackson exited the pocket and took another chunk of SU’s hope with him. He dusted an overcommitted Evan Foster and stiff-armed a hopeless Devin M. Butler to glide into the endzone for a 43-yard score and a 14-3 lead.“Explosive plays kill you,” redshirt junior safety Rodney Williams said.The early explosions served as a notice, albeit an unnecessary one, that SU ought to respect Jackson when he runs in space. So when three Orange defenders corralled him in a similar spot on the field during the next Cardinals possession, Jackson pitched to UofL running back Reggie Bonnafon. He finished the run 33 yards later and gave Louisville a 14-3 lead. All week long, SU knew it would have to defend the same option plays it couldn’t stop last week. When the Orange didn’t, it only got uglier.A first-half weather delay made Syracuse sit on a 21-3 deficit for 43 minutes in the locker room. Redshirt Freshman Rex Culpepper replaced a benched Mahoney at quarterback. The change didn’t help. SU finished the game with 335 yards of total offense, but little to show for it. Jackson himself had more production.The offensive struggles — considering with usual starter Eric Dungey out for the second straight game with an injury — didn’t sting as much as the damage Jackson inflicted.“You can only contain him, you can’t really stop him,” Williams said. “… Even if you have the perfect call, him boxed in a one-on-one tackle, it’s still going to be tough to make that play. You can’t really practice for someone like that.”In the second quarter, Jackson slung a deep ball over the middle to a streaking Jay Smith. Smith had beaten Orange cornerback Juwan Dowels and had only SU safety Rodney Williams to beat. Williams was in decent position, right underneath Smith like he wanted to be, but not a good enough spot to do anything about the incoming ball. As soon as he turned around, Williams said, he knew the pass was perfect. Smith plucked it and cruised for a 72-yard knockout. On Louisville’s next possession, Jackson one-upped his passing precision and dropped a dime of a score into the hands of Bonnafon, the running back, on a wheel route. Syracuse’s Brandon Berry, a defensive end, attempted to cover Bonnafon on the play — the sign of a defense both depleted and defeated.After halftime, the list of Jackson highlights got too long. He juked SU senior linebacker Jonathan Thomas on a touchdown run that resembled his infamous hurdle from last year. The lead eventually grew so large that Jackson was rewarded with the warmth of a sideline poncho for the remainder of the game.It kept raining. The seats that went largely unfilled to start the game became increasingly empty. Syracuse watched as backups battled backups. A garbage-time Orange touchdown drew little reaction.That is the kind of lifeless condition one would expect when a team had its goal of earning a bowl invitation officially stamped as a failure. SU had its best start through seven games since 2011 and almost certainly won’t have a postseason game to show for it.“We wanted to compete for an ACC championship,” Williams said. “We had the opportunity and we let it slip away.”Tonight, credit Jackson. But blame Syracuse for letting his reckoning have the power to kill its season. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more


Win over Cleveland State game of firsts for Wisconsin

first_imgAfter the Wisconsin football team dropped its lead and the game to Nebraska, the only victory of Saturday night came back in Madison, where the Wisconsin men’s soccer team topped Cleveland State by a score of 2-1. Although it was their 10th game of the season, the Badgers victory unveiled several firsts for the season.Badgers finally grab first home victoryWisconsin entered the match holding an 0-2-1 record at the McClimon Soccer Complex but was finally able to win its first home affair in front of a crowd of 545. Although it was the smallest home crowd of the season, Wisconsin finally settled in to its home stadium and finished the job for what head coach John Trask called the Badgers’ “truest fans.”“Considering that Wisconsin football was playing, it was a pretty impressive crowd,” Trask said. “Obviously we didn’t have the student section like we usually do, but there were a lot of youth and good soccer people from town [that came out].” It took four games to win one at home, but the Badgers have yet to reach the halfway point of their home schedule. Wisconsin still has five games to make it a very successful season within the confines of McClimon. The Badgers have beaten ranked opponents at home in each of the last two seasons – No. 22 Penn State in 2010 and No. 5 Indiana in 2011.Junior captain Chris Prince realized – in his 49 games of experience – if the Badgers are to be successful, it is rather important to win games at home. Following the victory, he said he sees significant room for the Badgers to improve in that aspect.“Playing at home should be like your home turf,” Prince said. “[Before the game] we hadn’t gotten a single win yet, which shouldn’t happen. We need to turn that around and start making this a tough place to play at.”UW gains adjusts to playing with leadOnly twice this season had the Badgers held a first half lead, and only one of those occasions ended in a Wisconsin victory.“I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been down a goal this season,” Prince said following the victory.And while they’ve trailed at some point in almost every game, the Badgers have done a good job of rallying from deficits that, if not to win the game, at least force overtime.Playing with a lead was a situation Wisconsin was certainly not used to, but one the team greeted Saturday night.Senior forward Jerry Maddi opened up the scoring in the first half with his first career goal in the 29th minute, and midfielder Drew Conner tacked on another goal just before halftime.Cleveland State attacked throughout the second half and eventually connected with a late goal in the 86th minute. Given the Vikings’ ability to get close to scoring at the end, John Trask was pleased with the lead the offense was able to build.“You wouldn’t want to be leaving that team in the game at 0-0 in the second half,” Trask said. “It would have been a really tricky game at that point.”Conner gets back on track in new positionConner’s goal in the 43rd minute was his first goal since the season-opener against Memphis and came at a new position for him.The freshman is used to playing center midfielder for the Badgers, but a recent change has moved Prince into that position and Conner to the right midfielder spot. Playing at center-mid for most of the season, Conner noted most of his scoring opportunities came in rebound situations, making the opportunity to score more often something he particularly enjoys about his new position.“Going into this game and the new position, I knew that I wanted to score,” Conner said. “I knew that there would be more opportunities out there for me.”His goal wound up being the difference-maker for the Badgers in the single-goal decision. Prince touched the ball into the box to Blake Succa before Succa crossed it to Conner. The freshman finished off the play, squeaking the ball under the defender’s legs and the goalie’s outstretched arms.Some may figure it to be a luckier goal than most, but given his scoring drought, Conner wouldn’t have it any other way.“I don’t think it was lucky,” Conner said. “I’ll take it. A goal is a goal.”Follow Sean on Twitterlast_img read more


McEvoy back in the mix for quarterback spot

first_imgAfter starting the entire season last fall, it seemed generally accepted that Joel Stave would retain his starting quarterback position next season for the Wisconsin football team. Although that might be the logical expectation, that’s not to say that Stave’s job is anywhere near safe. Among those gunning for the starting job is redshirt junior Tanner McEvoy.McEvoy is one of four quarterbacks seeing decent time so far this spring besides Stave, early enrollee DJ Gillins and junior Bart Houston.Although the four quarterbacks may be showcasing their quarterbacking abilities during spring practice, they are also demonstrating their leadership abilities in controlling the offense and commanding the huddle as senior offensive lineman Rob Havenstein explained.“They all know how to get the offense running. It does start with the quarterback. It is his huddle. I like to chime in there every now and then but at the end of the day what he says goes. If I say something, he might kind of brush it off. But if he says something, the whole offense has got to do something,” Havenstein said.The three other quarterbacks have had fairly direct paths to Wisconsin, but McEvoy has taken the route much less traveled. He started his journey off at South Carolina in 2011 and after spending his freshman season and the subsequent spring with the Gamecocks, he elected to transfer to Arizona Western Community College. McEvoy spent a season at Arizona Western and then last spring decided to transfer again to come to Wisconsin after getting recruited by then-new head coach Gary Andersen.After being unable to make it to Wisconsin until the summer, McEvoy was hampered in his ability to become acclimated to the program before jumping headfirst into the quarterback competition during fall camp.“In the summer, it’s a new school transferring in. Obviously, anyone has that kind of [nervous] feeling, but I wouldn’t blame it on that. I didn’t feel that uncomfortable when I was here when I first got here at all. That’s why I came here. It’s an easy group of guys to get along with,” McEvoy said.When Stave earned the starting spot in fall camp last season, McEvoy continued to practice at quarterback during the beginning weeks of the season. Then misfortune struck when McEvoy injured his wrist, adding another obstacle to his path. Unable to take snaps, McEvoy got bumped to wide receiver and saw time in the first game of the season against Massachusetts at wide out.After the results came back from the x-ray on his wrist, McEvoy underwent surgery to repair it and ended up sitting out for several weeks waiting to heal. In the meantime though, McEvoy path again turned as he was asked if we wanted to try safety. After obliging, just weeks later he found himself playing safety at Ohio Stadium against the Buckeyes, certainly not where anyone expected to see him when he originally committed.McEvoy finished the season off at safety, but the whole time knew that come this spring he would be back in the mix for the quarterback job.In just under a year since Wisconsin, those around McEvoy, including Havenstein, have seen some major growth, which should benefit him in the quarterback race.“He’s got a lot more confidence back there calling the play like he means it like he’s been doing it 15 years calling that same play,” he said.“I think he’s got a great understanding of the playbook, the checks and what not. He’s really commanded it so far and kind of getting little details, ins and outs, the niches of the offense and I think it’s helping him out tremendously. He can walk up, make protection checks, get us in the right spot to be able to get him the better throw and if they’re bringing pressure, if we can pick it up, our guys on the outside, Tanner has the ability to get there on time and on point. That creates big plays.”After playing safety most of last season, McEvoy hasn’t had much time to practice with the quarterbacks and didn’t really get a chance to practice with them until the end of the season. But simply being around the Badger program for almost a year now has allowed McEvoy the opportunity to become increasingly familiar with the subtleties of the program and, more importantly, the play book.The confidence Havenstein discussed plays off being around the program for a longer period of time and has contributed into how McEvoy has performed so far this spring, according to offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig.“When he came to us in June last year everything was new going into the whole program for the first time. He started back at quarterback during the bowl preparation period. He was much more relaxed and comfortable in what he was doing and it’s paying off for all of us right now,” Ludwig said.Plenty of time still stands between now and the start of next season, but having the opportunity to participate in spring practice this season gives McEvoy a head start he didn’t have the luxury of this time last year.That factors, coupled with having a year under his belt with Wisconsin, should give the quarterback heralded for his dual threat potential coming into the program last year a quality shot at the starting position come next fall. Only time will tell what the future holds and what path his football career will take next.“All four guys are putting their best foot forward and that’s only going to make us better as a team. One guy steps up and makes a big throw, the rest of them want to step up and make a bigger throw or two bigger throws. It’s really going to help us out in the end,” Havenstein said.last_img read more