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Andersen looking for QB at Wisconsin

March 4, 2013

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gary Andersen begins his first spring as Wisconsin coach looking for a quarterback.

Curt Phillips, Joel Stave and Danny O’Brien all started games during the 2012 season for Wisconsin, which won its third straight Big Ten title and went to a third consecutive Rose Bowl. All return this season, along with redshirt freshman Bart Houston.

Andersen said Monday that quarterback Jon Budmayr, who sat out 2011 and 2012 with nerve problems in his right shoulder and arm, is done playing. He will be a student coach for the team.

Consistency and communication during the Badgers’ 15 spring practices, which begin Tuesday, are what Andersen wants to see from his QBs. He also said he doesn’t anticipate naming a starter until preseason practice in August.

“I want to see someone who’s going to break the huddle and I want to see those five offensive linemen’s eye and say: ‘I know you got it. If you do your job, I know you’re going to take care of business,’” Andersen said. “One that can absorb the scheme, and we can adjust the scheme around the talents of the quarterback that we see is going to take the majority of the snaps in the fall.”

The number of quarterbacks will grow to five when Tanner McEvoy, a 6-foot-6, 215-pound junior college transfer from Arizona Western College, arrives for preseason practice. He has three seasons of eligibility left and will get equal opportunity to contend for the job.

The Badgers lost two key starters on the offensive line in left tackle Ricky Wagner and center Travis Frederick, who decided to forego his senior season to declare for the NFL draft. Senior Ryan Groy could replace either. He played two games at left tackle when Wagner was out with a knee injury, and also has experience at center.

“It takes a very smart young man and a very durable young man (to play center),” Andersen said. “It’s going to take a special kid to come and get into that spot and replace what was a tremendous player.”

Andersen had individual one-on-one meetings with returning players two weeks ago. Despite the fact they’ll have to adapt to a new head coach and assistants, coaching style and schemes on offense and defense, Andersen said expectations remain high.

The Badgers finished 8-6 in 2012, 4-4 in the Big Ten, and won the league title game against Nebraska to get to the Rose Bowl. Wisconsin reached the Big Ten championship game because NCAA sanctions kept Leaders division rivals Ohio State and Penn State ineligible for postseason games.

“It came out time and time again that an 8-6, they didn’t feel like that was a tremendous year for them,” Andersen said of the Badgers. “They feel like they’re a dominant power in college football, which they should feel that way.

“They’re in ... one of the best conferences in the country. Those six losses and some close losses and some close wins — they’d like to see that flip-flop to a few more wins.”

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