Wisconsin doesn’t plan to name a starting quarterback until game day, but the decision has apparently been made and word has leaked.
Citing three anonymous sources, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting redshirt junior Tanner McEvoy will start against LSU in the season opener Aug. 30 from Houston’s NRG Stadium.
The more run-centric McEvoy and incumbent starter Joel Stave, a pocket passer, battled for the starting job through spring practice and fall camp. Coach Gary Andersen last week said he would not name a starter until game day.
McEvoy, a transfer last year from Arizona Western College, was moved from quarterback to safety last year. He played 10 games at safety, with three starts. He returned to quarterback in the spring and closed drills with the No. 1 offense after Stave was sidelined with right shoulder pain.
McEvoy, a 6-foot-6, 222-pounder from New Jersey, passed for 1,943 yards and 25 touchdowns and rushed for 414 yards and six touchdowns in his lone season as the starter at Arizona Western.
Stave started all 13 games last season. He passed for 2,494 yards and 22 touchdowns and threw 13 interceptions.
LSU is in the midst of a similar quarterback battle. Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris are competing to be the starter.
Coach Les Miles has suggested that he won’t announce a starter.
Miles and LSU are well aware of Wisconsin’s quarterback battle. The Tigers have been studying tape for the last few months.
Miles said coaches watched McEvoy’s spring game.
“He’s got some abilities to move his feet,” the coach said. “We would expect the same route tree would be used and the same offense but maybe a little bit more mobile quarterback.”
The coach said his defense during practice is competing against a similar quarterback. Jennings and Harris are both athletic QBs who can move.
“Good news is we’re preparing for a mobile quarterback with our defense when we line up against our team,” Miles said.
LSU kicker Colby Delahoussaye will not kick off, Miles said. Delahoussaye is listed as the Tigers’ kickoff specialist in the preseason depth chart.
Walk-on sophomore Trent Domingue or true freshman Cameron Gamble will handle those duties, the coach said. James Hairston transferred to Rice over the summer. He had served as LSU’s kickoff man for the previous three seasons.
Delahoussaye, a sophomore, will be restricted to kicking field goals and extra-points. He was 13-of-14 on field goals last season.
Pocic at center
Miles gave even stronger comments Friday that Ethan Pocic will start at center against Wisconsin. Incumbent starter Elliott Porter, a senior, is not injured, Miles said.
The coach suggested that Pocic’s size is a reason for the switch. Pocic is 6-foot-7, 300 pounds.
“It’s just the height and size. Maybe just a little more range,” Miles said of Pocic.
Miles has mentioned throughout camp that Pocic could see substantial playing time at center, though he was listed as the backup. On Wednesday night during his radio show, Miles said Pocic would play a lot in the opener “if not start.”
Pocic said Thursday that he’s been working with the starting group at center.
Miles did not have an update on defensive tackle signee Travonte Valentine, a four-star kid out of Florida who has not been ruled eligible through the Southeastern Conference. Valentine has been cleared by the NCAA and has been admitted to school. He told The Advocate on Thursday he plans to arrive in Baton Rouge on Saturday to start school Monday.
Valentine suggested that another SEC school was involved in his delay.
“I think it’s a natural administrative piece the conference requires for guys who qualify late,” Miles said Friday. “They ask a bunch of academic questions that have to be answered. Certainly, takes some time to put it together. … Wish he could be here.”
Pocic isn’t the only reserve player working with the starters. Cornerback Jalen Collins confirmed on Thursday he’s also working with the starting group. Rashard Robinson has been practicing and scrimmaging with the second group. … Miles said Terrence Magee will be returning kickoffs for LSU. He stopped short of revealing the other kick returner. Running back Leonard Fournette, receivers Avery Peterson, Trey Quinn, a freshman, and Travin Dural, and freshman safety Jamal Adams are working at the spot.