August 26, 2008

Resiliency leads Evridge to starting role

MADISON, Wis.- Senior, and newly appointed starting quarterback Allan Evridge is no stranger to taking a big hit. From his time as the starter for Kansas State his redshirt freshman year, one can find multiple Youtube videos of defensive players taking out their aggression on the shifty quarterback with a simple search. What develops from that physicality is something that cannot be easily taught, toughness and resiliency. Some have it, others do not.

The Nebraska native started six games and played in nine during that season in Manhattan, Kansas and set a freshman record for KSU throwing for 1,365 yards and six touchdowns, including a game winner against rival Kansas. Now, after sitting out a full year due to transfer rules and losing a quarterback battle to Tyler Donovan last year, Evridge will once again try to prove his resiliency when he takes the field against Akron.

"I'm a pretty calm guy," Evridge said Sunday after practice when asked if any nerves were setting in. "Right now I'm just trying to learn the offense and the schemes and get as best prepared for Akron."

Nobody expects Evridge to come in and become the next great in Badger lore, but what they can expect is a determination to play as effectively as he can. After going through a heated quarterback battle last season, Evridge plans to use what he has learned heading into his third season in the program.

"The biggest thing is just go out there and play hard everyday," Evridge said. "You got to take each down at a time and just try to stick to the plan and continue to improve everyday. That's just the most important thing and it's kind of been a philosophy that I've always kind of stuck to my whole career."

Of course, with the likes of P.J. Hill, Zach Brown and newcomer John Clay in the Badger backfield, all Evridge must do is manage the game. If he keeps his interceptions down, makes smart decision in regards to pulling the ball in and run or throwing the ball away, and proves his accuracy, the Badgers will have a decent chance to have success this season.

Naturally, the offensive line would need to continue its run of playing at a high level and protect his backside and open holes for the running backs as well. With the advent of the 40-second clock this season, UW is primed to be in a position where time of possession and ball control will once again lean in Wisconsin's favor. They just have to make sure they convert their drives into touchdowns or field goals, otherwise their long drives will obviously go for naught.

"It will be interesting, you won't know until the end of the season, to see how much it really affects the game and how many series will be one or lost by it," Evridge said about the new play clock as an advantage. "It definitely could impact the game, especially if you have a heavy run type offense and it's definitely a big change."

Passing wise, returning All-American tight end Travis Beckum will lead a talented but relatively youthful receiving core. Outside of Beckum, tight end Garrett Graham and sophomore wide receiver Kyle Jefferson are returning with the most experience.

That lack of cohesion and veteran leadership at wide receiver could potentially be a breaking point for the offense, especially during key third down situations. Therefore chemistry is crucial for success, especially to develop it early in the season.

"They spent the whole off-season working together so they've been throwing to each other since spring ball ended," wide receiver coach DelVaughn Alexander said referring to quarterback-receiver cohesiveness. "Those guys have a good report with each other, they talk, (and) they communicate. They talk about things that they see, so it's been really positive."

Obviously no one can predict exactly how the season will play out with Evridge leading this team. But head coach Bret Bielema summed it up very well earlier in camp.

"We want him to make good decisions," he said. "We don't need him to be an all-star, we just need him to make the plays that are out there (and) make the right throws."

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