Colleges roundup: Joel Stave in control at Wisconsin
Madison, Wis. — Perhaps the best way to measure how firmly Joel Stave has taken control of the quarterback reins at Wisconsin is to underscore how little he needed to display at Saturday's spring game.
The fifth-year senior led the Badgers' starting offense to a touchdown on his only series of the day before ceding the field to a host of underclassmen vying for the backup role.
Stave completed both passes he attempted — a 38-yard, double-clutch sideline heave to his favorite target Alex Erickson and a 17-yard back-shoulder strike to emerging threat Rob Wheelwright on third down for the first score of the day.
It was a banner day for the starters in a 35-7 victory for first-year coach Paul Chryst, before an announced crowd of 9,630.
"Joel has played a lot of football," Chryst said of Stave, who has a 21-7 career record as starter but entered spring as the top gun for the first time in his career. "He still needs to continue to learn this offense. There's a trust factor, trusting himself within the offense."
That task has been made more difficult this spring by a lack of continuity and proven threats at receiver. And it's been compounded by a series of injuries to an already rebuilding offensive line, which graduated three starters — including first-team All-American's Rob Havenstein and Kyle Costigan — from the 2014 unit that paved the way for standout running back Melvin Gordon to rush for a Big Ten-record 2,587 yards.
Additionally, Wisconsin was without two projected starters on the offensive line Saturday in center Dan Voltz (ankle) and Ray Ball (unspecified).
Chryst indicated both will be healthy for training camp. And he's confident the Badgers will again boast a steady running game behind top returnee Corey Clement, junior Dare Ogunbowale and redshirt freshman Taiwan Deal.
The onus remains on Stave and the receivers to improve a passing game that ranked 112th in yardage among FBS schools last season at 2,082.
"I think we can be pretty good throwing the ball, but we've got a lot of work to do," Chryst said. "I do think we can be a team that can be two-dimensional."
Iowa's defense shines
Akrum Wadley scored the lone touchdown of Iowa's spring game on Saturday as the defense shined.
The lack of offensive fireworks didn't concern Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, saying it's par for the course during spring practice.
"At this point after 15 days, our defense might know our offense better than the offense does, quite frankly," Ferentz said. "It happens in camp, too, just when you work against each other pretty expansively. That's nothing to be alarmed about."
Protest at UAB
Derek Slaughter, a linebacker at Alabama-Birmingham, protested the school's decision to shut down the football program at Saturday's graduation ceremonies.
Slaughter wore his helmet during the ceremony. And when he walked across the stage to receive his diploma, he refused to shake the hand of university president Ray Watts.
Slaughter explained his decision on Twitter: No i did not shake his hand. I told him I wanted it back and what it ment to me and all he said was I know I know… #freeUAB